The Pnakotic Manuscripts (or Pnakotic Fragments) is a fictional manuscript in the Cthulhu Mythos. The tome was created by H. P. Lovecraft and first appeared in his short story "Polaris" (1918). They are mentioned in many of Lovecraft's stories, including At the Mountains of Madness (1936), The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath (1926), The Other Gods (1933), and The Shadow Out of Time (1936). The manuscripts are also referred to by other mythos authors, such as Lin Carter and Brian Lumley.
The Pnakotic Manuscripts predate the origin of man. The original manuscripts were in scroll form and were passed down through the ages, eventually falling into the hands of secretive cults. The Great Race of Yith is believed to have produced the first five chapters of the Manuscripts, which, among other things, contain a detailed chronicle of the race's history. However, others attribute them to the Elder Things, because of certain similarities to the Eltdown Shards.
The Pnakotic Manuscripts were kept in the Great Race's library city of Pnakotus (hence the name). They cover a variety of subjects, including descriptions of Chaugnar Faugn and Yibb-Tstll, the location of Xiurhn, Rhan-Tegoth's rituals, and others.
The Manuscripts in human history
The Pnakotic Manuscripts were originally held by the people of Lomar, who studied them diligently. Later, they were passed to Hyperborea and translated into the language of that land. Here the manuscripts were added to by the Voormi. Another addition is known to have been made in earlier times by a scribe in Zobna.
The Manuscripts survived into historical times, protected by a secretive cult known as the Pnakotic Brotherhood, and are thought to have been translated into Greek in a version known as the Pnakotica. Rumors say that an English translation was made in the 15th century by an unknown scribe, but the consensus is that they exist only in manuscript form. The original scrolls of the Pnakotic Manuscripts are believed to be lost (nevertheless, a copy may still exist in the Temple of the Elder Ones in Ulthar).
Appearances in other works
The Pnakotic Manuscripts appear in both "The Collect Call of Cathulhu" (an episode from The Real Ghostbusters), and in the computer game Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth as the Pnakotica. It is also featured in the Lovecraftian visual novel (and later anime series) Demonbane as a living tome. In The Illuminatus! Trilogy, the Manuscripts contain information on the ancient Illuminati. They are also referenced in Daniel A. Rabuzzi's novel The Choir Boats.
Author Lin Carter planned two stories based on The Pnakotic Manuscripts - "The Acolyte of the Flame" (scheduled to appear in Crypt of Cthulhu) and "The Dwellers in the Depths" (this latter story exists only in a draft of the beginning).
They are referenced by the narrator in early versions of the short story "The House of the Worm" by Gary Myers published in New Worlds For Old and The House of the Worm, but excised from his updated version in The Country of the Worm.
- Lovecraft referred to the Pnakotic Manuscripts in eleven of his stories—second only to the Necronomicon, which is referred to 18 times. (Loucks, "The Necronomicon and Other Grimoires".)
- Joshi & Schultz, An H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia, p. 187.
- Carter, Lin (1971). New Worlds for Old. New York City, NY: Ballatine. ISBN 0-345-02365-X.
- Cornford, Laurence J. "A Hyperborean Glossary, M-R". The Eldritch Dark. Retrieved July 25, 2005.
- Harms, Daniel. "Lomar" in The Encyclopedia Cthulhiana (2nd ed.), pp. 185–6. Chaosium, Inc., 1998. ISBN 1-56882-119-0.
- —"Pnakotic Manuscripts", pp. 242–3. Ibid.
- Joshi, S. T.; David E. Schultz (2001). An H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-31578-7.
- Loucks, Donovan K. "The Necronomicon and Other Grimoires". The H.P. Lovecraft Archive. Retrieved August 20, 2006.
- Myers, Gary (1975). The House of the Worm. Sauk City, WI: Arkham House. ISBN 0-87054-071-8.
- Myers, Gary (2013). The Country of the Worm: Excursions Beyond the Wall of Sleep. CreateSpace. ISBN 9781484801970.