This is a brief note on an interesting piece of information I found while conducting my studies on Lovecraft and mathematics. In the paper in Mathematics I previously mentioned – H.P. Lovecraft: A Horror in Higher Dimensions (written by Thomas Hull of Merrimack College, North Andover, MA) – the author noted that John Dee translated Euclid’s The Elements into English.
John Dee by an unknown artist (from Wikipedia.org)
John Dee (1527 – 1609) was a mathematician, astronomer, astrologer and consultant to Queen Elizabeth I who had many other titles and varied interests. Dee was one of those individuals who was born and lived through the Renaissance and worked equally in science / mathematics as well as magic / alchemy. However, Lovecraft fans may recognize the name of the man who translated Olaus Wormius’s Latin version of the Necronomicon into English. This idea was first cited in a story by Frank Belknap Long called The Space Eaters.
Illustration from Frank Belknap Long’s story The Space Eaters (Weird Tales, July 1928)
It is mentioned in Joshi’s I am Providence: The Life and Times of H.P. Lovecraft (2013), that HPL cited this Dee translation of the Necronomicon in later stories. This would not be surprising since HPL would frequently incorporate the ideas or concepts other writers had into his stories to expand on the growing myth. However, I can not find any Dee citations in either his own stories or revised tales. If anyone can provide specific passages where HPL cited the Dee text it would be most appreciated. My guess is that these references originate from letters, essays or other correspondences of HPL’s. Mr. Long did provide a fragment of the Dee-translated Necronomicon and this has been published in Robert M. Price’s The Necronomicon (Chaosium, 1996).
In any event, it is interesting that John Dee translated both Euclid’s The Elements and Abdul Alhazred’s Necronomicon. I wonder which one he translated first? I am assuming Euclid’s was translated first because where to you go after you translate the Necronomicon? Also, I’m sure he would have been laughing at all of the strict rules of Euclidean geometry after translating the Necronomicon. Next time the discussion will be back on the Witch House and higher dimensions. Thank you – Fred
The Necronomicon by Marc Simonetti (from The Art of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos)