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The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories

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A definitive collection of stories from the unrivaled master of twentieth-century horror.

"I think it is beyond doubt that H. P. Lovecraft has yet to be surpassed as the twentieth century's greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale." - Stephen King.

Frequently imitated and widely influential, Howard Philips Lovecraft reinvented the horror genre in the 1920s, discarding ghosts and witches and instead envisioning mankind as a tiny outpost of dwindling sanity in a chaotic and malevolent universe. S. T. Joshi, Lovecraft's preeminent interpreter, presents a selection of the master's fiction, from the early tales of nightmares and madness such as "The Outsider" to the overpowering cosmic terror of "The Call of Cthulhu." More than just a collection of terrifying tales, this volume reveals the development of Lovecraft's mesmerizing narrative style and establishes him as a canonical- and visionary-American writer.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

H. P. Lovecraft was born in 1890 in Providence, Rhode Island, where he lived most of his life. Frequent illnesses in his youth disrupted his schooling, but Lovecraft gained a wide knowledge of many subjects through independent reading and study. He wrote many essays and poems early in his career, but gradually focused on the writing of horror stories, after the advent in 1923 of the pulp magazine Weird Tales, to which he contributed most of his fiction. His relatively small corpus of fiction—three short novels and about sixty short stories—has nevertheless exercised a wide influence on subsequent work in the field, and he is regarded as the leading twentieth-century American author of supernatural fiction. H. P. Lovecraft died in Providence in 1937.

S. T. Joshi is a freelance writer and editor. He has edited Penguin Classics editions of H. P. Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories (1999), and The Thing on the Doorstep and Other Weird Stories (2001), as well as Algernon Blackwood’s Ancient Sorceries and Other Strange Stories (2002). Among his critical and biographical studies are The Weird Tale (1990), Lord Dunsany: Master of the Anglo-Irish Imagination (1995), H. P. Lovecraft: A Life (1996), and The Modern Weird Tale (2001). He has also edited works by Ambrose Bierce, Arthur Machen, and H. L. Mencken, and is compiling a three-volume Encyclopedia of Supernatural Literature. He lives with his wife in Seattle, Washington.

420 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1926

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About the author

H.P. Lovecraft

4,258 books16.6k followers
Howard Phillips Lovecraft, of Providence, Rhode Island, was an American author of horror, fantasy and science fiction.

Lovecraft's major inspiration and invention was cosmic horror: life is incomprehensible to human minds and the universe is fundamentally alien. Those who genuinely reason, like his protagonists, gamble with sanity. Lovecraft has developed a cult following for his Cthulhu Mythos, a series of loosely interconnected fictions featuring a pantheon of human-nullifying entities, as well as the Necronomicon, a fictional grimoire of magical rites and forbidden lore. His works were deeply pessimistic and cynical, challenging the values of the Enlightenment, Romanticism and Christianity. Lovecraft's protagonists usually achieve the mirror-opposite of traditional gnosis and mysticism by momentarily glimpsing the horror of ultimate reality.

Although Lovecraft's readership was limited during his life, his reputation has grown over the decades. He is now commonly regarded as one of the most influential horror writers of the 20th Century, exerting widespread and indirect influence, and frequently compared to Edgar Allan Poe.


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Displaying 1 - 29 of 1,911 reviews
Profile Image for Josh.
184 reviews33 followers
March 2, 2013

I am largely underwhelmed by this “master of horror.” I find the writing simply dull, repetitive, anti-climactic, and that it uses the same tricks over and over and over again. I am not horrified by the stories, or at least not by any intended reasons. The narration, pacing, and lazy writing wreck whatever interest I had in the premises of the stories had, such as the twist to Arthur Jermyn and The Color Out of Space. (Such potential, OH WHY?!)

I admit my strong reaction to these stories is due to the huge hype I’ve heard around them and the high expectations I had starting them. After reading some of his most famous works (Call of Cthulhu, Call of Cthulhu, and don’t forget, Call of Cthulhu) I am completely lost to why they’ve achieved the memetic status they’re at now. Before actually reading anything, I was always delighted to see the occasional “CTHULHU”-fish emblem on the back of a car or a creative homage to the famed monster on DeviantArt, and I was eager to become a loyal member of the fanbase, but it just wasn’t for me.

Here are some notes I jotted down while reading:

- Lovecraft makes random misspellings in an attempt to sound archaic. “Shewn”, “coördinated”, “reëmbarked”, etc. Admittedly this only happens once every couple pages, but it’s still distracting.

- Every protagonist is exactly the same. “It was very horrible but my own scientific curiosity for the horrible made me very curious as to what lay forward.” Sometimes the narrators are completely unnecessary, with an obvious case of this being in The Call of Cthulhu, where the narrator summarizes other people’s actions or journal entries, when it would have been much more effective to just show the journal entries or articles themselves.

- There are lazy attempts at shewing horrific things. He will write what is basically a wordy version of “And it was so horrible and I could never describe it without going crazy/dead and I really don’t want to bring those memories back in my mind so yeah just trust me it was horrible.”

- When he does describe actual horror, it’s not very horrific. “And I looked out the window and saw a bunch of weird people chanting and dancing to this big black pyramid and I screamed loudly for what seemed to be an hour in sheer horrible terror.”

- Lovecraft uses description of people that human beings do not (and should not) use. The narrator of Cool Air describes Dr. Muñoz as being “high-bred”. In He, the narrator describes the titular pronoun as bearing “the marks of a lineage and refinement.” The Call of Cthulhu describes tribal peoples as being “mix-blooded.” This is just creepy, as most humans do not describe others the same way you would describe a dog. This technique would be effective if it was coming out of the mouth of a character who was meant to be portrayed as inhuman or emotionless, but no, it’s coming out of the narrator we’re supposed to identify with.

- Physical improbabilities are rampant. In The Rats in the Walls, there’s an enormous lair complete with bottomless ravines underneath an old manor. Uh, why? Enormous mile-high structures will be completely unnoticed in the wild by the world around them, which I find highly unlikely for the 1920’s setting.

- The pacing is distractingly inconsistent. While Lovecraft will never miss an opportunity to describe the scenery and archaic architecture at length, long voyages and passages of time will be handwaved with a few words mid-sentence.

However, I would recommend this edition of the book for someone who wants to start with Lovecraft (even after reading all of this review). It has every story of his I’ve heard anyone talk about, the painting on the cover is cool, and Penguin crams all 420 pages into a surprisingly thin width. The “Explanatory Notes” at the end are in-depth, and well-researched. They don’t always add to one’s understanding of the story (Cool Air has a note about a fold-out couch Lovecraft kept in his study). While definitely not necessary for getting the full-effect of the stories, they’re interesting to read and I’m glad they’re included.

Please leave comments! I want to see if I'm not alone in my opinion, or if I just "don't get it". :P

– – –

Super-exaggeration time:

“I drove around the old toun while calling my well-bred Negro acquaintance with my iPhewn when I heard a sound that struck me as being from an ancient cosmic terror of terrible horrors buried deep within the crevice of time and the darkest corners of the recurring nightmares of humankind undernaeth the horrors of Old New Yoark. Although I can’t pinpoint exactly why I came to this conclusiön but it was of such disturbance to my psyche that I am to leap out of this window in 5 4 3 2-”

- - -

2012 UPDATE: No, I still haven't read any more Lovecraft since writing this review. But here are some extra thoughts for clarification: I am completely familiar with the kind of horror Lovecraft aims for, and that his fans love him for. I do love this style of horror (unspeakable, unseen, ancient, and cosmic), and I love it when it's envoked—but Lovecraft was unable to envoke it for me. My main problem with Lovecraft (and most horror out there) is that his stories feel more like stories about his narrators getting scared, without myself feeling an iota of involvement. I find that literature is an extremely difficult medium for horror, as it takes an extreme, almost poetic ability to be able to write the perfect description, atmosphere, or even single sentence that begins to spook the reader—not just the author's characters. It's not impossible, it's just hard. I can get myself into an intense horrified scizophrenic state before I begin reading, and enjoy the stories much more, but why should I? I went into this author with an open mind, and I wasn't convinced. I shouldn't have to perform "well what if this was happening to me" exercises or stay awake until four in the morning and convince myself there's a murderer behind me to get myself in the mood to properly enjoy horror.
Profile Image for Bill Kerwin.
Author 1 book81.5k followers
September 2, 2019

This, the first of three volumes of Lovecraft tales edited by S.T. Joshi, is--as are the other two--chronological, featuring a selection of tales from the earliest to the very last. (An odd organizational principle for a complete tales, but I suppose Joshi did this so most of the best tales wouldn't be found in the last two volumes.)

Every Lovecraft fan should purchase all three volumes, but—if you must confine yourself to one only—I would suggest this one as the best to buy, since it contains many of the best and most characteristic tales. Among my favorites are the early “Dagon” (which foreshadows the Cthulhu mythos), “The Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family” (first appearance of the Lovecraft theme of genetic pollution), “Nyarlathotep” (a perfectly realized early prose poem), “The Picture in the House” (a tale of cannibalism narrated by a degenerate old New Englander), “The Outsider” (Lovecraft’s first masterpiece, written in the style of Poe), “The Rats in the Walls” (an English gothic, involving a literal descent into an ancient world of horrors), “The Festival” (an underappreciated dream journey through an old New England town, worthy of Ligotti), “The Call of Cthulhu” (a masterly use of many narrative points of view), “The Colour Out of Space” (the tale of a mysterious meteor, perhaps Lovecraft’s best use of description”), “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” (the secret behind the degenerate denizens of a small New England port, perhaps Lovecraft’s best sustained longer work), and “The Haunter of the Dark” (H.P.’s last story, featuring a haunted description of his native Providence and the best concluding sentence in horror fiction).

Also included: “The Statement of Randolph Carter,” “Celephais,” “Herbert West – Reanimator”, “Cool Air,” “The Hound,” “He”, and “ The Whisperer in Darkness”—all of which are of interest—and the excellent introduction and helpful notes of the great scholar of horror S.T. Joshi (particularly good at revealing the connections between Lovecraft’s life and his fiction.)

All in all, this is a fine collection, certainly the best of the excellent series of three.
Profile Image for فؤاد.
1,056 reviews1,719 followers
May 8, 2019
من و کطولحو

اولین بار که با کطولحو آشنا شدم، توی بازی «شرلوک هلمز: بیدار» بود. دبیرستانی بودم و تازه با شرلوک هلمز آشنا و شدیداً هواخواهش شده بودم. این بازی رو هم به خاطر همین خریدم. بازی فوراً تبدیل شد به یکی از تجربه‌های تکرارنشدنیم. فضاهای تاریک و وهم‌آلود، فرقه‌های مذهبی مخفی که آدم‌های بی خانمان رو که کسی پیگیر زندگی و مرگشون نبود، می‌دزدیدن و قربانی می‌کردن برای خدای وحشت‌آور اختاپوس‌مانندی که معتقد بودن قراره ظهور کنه و باید با قربانی انسانی ظهورش رو تعجیل کرد. بازی به شدت تخیل نوجوان من رو مسحور کرد و تا مدت‌ها با برادرم خودمون رو داخل اون فضای جذاب و ترسناک تصور می‌کردیم و بازی می‌کردیم.

اون موقع نمی‌دونستم که داستان بازی، فضاسازی‌های تاریک و نمناک و وهم‌آلودش، فرقهٔ مخفی و اعتقادات وحشتناکش و خدای اختاپوس‌مانندی که قراره ظهور کنه، همه و همه از داستان‌های لاوکرافت اقتباس شده. من فکر می‌کردم که مسحور شرلوک هلمز شده‌م، در حالی که در حقیقت بدون این که خبر داشته باشم شیفتهٔ لاوکرافت شده بودم.

چند سال گذشت تا پارسال یا پیارسال، نمی‌دونم چرا یادم افتاد که من، وقتی چهار پنج سالم بود، تصورم از خدا یک اختاپوس آسمانی یک چشم بود. بعد یادم افتاد که خدای بازی شرلوک هلمز هم اختاپوس بود و این خیلی به نظرم عجیب اومد. فکر کردم نکنه افراد بیشتری این تصور رو از خدا داشته باشن، و علت این تصور چیه؟ این شد که رفتم خدای اختاپوس‌مانند رو سرچ کردم، و گوگل فهرست بلند بالایی از مطالب راجع به کطولحو جلوم به نمایش گذاشت. اون جا بود که برای اولین بار با لاوکرافت و دنیای «وحشت کیهانی»ش آشنا شدم. فهمیدم این نویسندهٔ عجیب و غریب برای داستان‌هاش اساطیری کامل ساخته از خدایانی وحشت‌انگیز و فرقه‌هایی مذهبی که با مناسکی مخوف قرن‌ها این خدایان رو می‌پرستیدن. جهانی که در اون، عصر خرد در حقیقت چیزی نیست جز عصر فراموشی ذات وحشت‌انگیز جهان که در قرون وسطا و دوران باستان شناخته شده بود، و فقط وقتی این حقیقت وحشت‌انگیز از یادها رفت، عقل و منطق تونستن شکل بگیرن. اما این پوستهٔ عقلانی زیادی سست و شکننده است و حقیقت جهان خواه ناخواه از گوشه و کنارش بیرون می‌زنه و اون وقته که منطقی‌ترین دانشمندها هم سر به جنون می‌ذارن و شروع می‌کنن به هذیان گفتن و پرستیدن تاریکی و آدمخواری و در نهایت، خودکشی.

اون موقع در به در گشتم دنبال ترجمهٔ داستان اصلی لاوکرافت، یعنی «احضار کطولحو»، اما فقط یه ترجمهٔ نازل اینترنتی ازش پیدا کردم. وقتی دیدم نثر داستان انگلیسی خیلی برای من ثقیله، ناچار تن دادم و همون ترجمهٔ نازل رو خوندم. اما در حسرت یه ترجمهٔ خوب منتطر موندم و حتی به چند دانشجوی زبان انگلیسی پیشنهاد دادم که ترجمه‌ش کنن. تا چند روز پیش که خیلی اتفاقی توی توییتر دیدم این داستان به همراه چند داستان دیگه از لاوکرافت بالاخره ترجمه شدن، و کسی هم گفت که مترجم مترجم خوبیه. بی معطلی خریدم و برای اولین بار بعد از دوازده سیزده سال که از آشناییم با لاوکرافت می‌گذشت، داستان‌هاش رو خوندم.

دو اشتباه، دو درس

اشتباهات لاوکرافت که ازش یاد گرفتم تکرار نکنم:

اول، اصرارش برای وحشتناک نشون دادن همه چیز، با آوردن توصیفاتی مثل «وحشتناک، منزجرکننده، نفرین‌زده» و لغتنامه‌ای از انواع و اقسام توصیفات که یه نویسندهٔ وحشت نباید به کار ببره، به این دلیل ساده که گفتن این که فلان چیز «به غایت پلید و دیوانه‌کننده بود و گویی از دروازه‌های دوزخ به روی زمین گریخته بود» باعث می‌شه خواننده دیگه وحشت رو حس نکنه. قدیمی‌ترین قانون داستان‌نویسی اینه که «نگو و نشان بده». و نویسندهٔ وحشت هم باید با زبانی خونسرد فقط واقعهٔ وحشتناک رو نشون بده و ترسیدن رو به عهدهٔ خواننده بذاره.

دوم، حضور، و بدتر از اون، موجودیت فیزیکی عامل ترس، که باعث می‌شه احساس ناشناختگی که باعث ترس می‌شه، از بین بره. انسن دیبل در طرح در داستان توصیه می‌کنه: اگر واقعهٔ نامعمول شما یک هیولا، قاتل روانی یا... است، او را مدام نشان ندهید بلکه غایب نگهش دارید. ندیدن باعث هیجان و ترس می‌شود و به تخیل خواننده اجازهٔ جولان می‌دهد. دیدن یک چیز آن را معمولی و پیش پا افتاده می‌کند.

خود لاوکرافت هم به شهادت مقدمهٔ داستان «موسیقی اریک زان» صراحت رو بزرگ‌ترین نقطه ضعف داستان‌های خودش می‌دونسته، و مع��قد بوده بهترین داستانش «موسیقی اریک زان»ـه، به خاطر این که عامل ترس توی این داستان به کلی غایبه.
Profile Image for Scott.
290 reviews300 followers
April 24, 2017
"Gentle reader - what I saw that night was so horrifyingly horrible, such a cavalcade of horrid, horrific horror, that I cannot describe its horrendousness to you. I pen these words whilst I foam at the mouth in a padded cell."

That is what almost all of The Call of Chthulu and Other Weird Stories felt like to me - a terrified narrator recounts a scarring encounter with an evil force as overwhelmingly powerful as it is vague. And I mean vague- trying to get a feel for the nature and appearance of the evil forces in Lovecraft's stories is a little like wearing dark glasses while trying to spot a green dog in a forest on a foggy night.

I thought I would love Lovecraft. I genuinely dig some of the mythos that has built up around his work. I have (and love) Fantasy Flight's Eldritch Horror boardgame, and have played and enjoyed Arkham Horror. Furthermore, I was keen to explore the early years of the horror genre and experience writing that has influenced later authors such as Richard Matheson and Stephen King.

I went into this book knowing that some of these stories may not have aged well, but I expected to enjoy them far more than I did. In all truth several of the stories in this collection were downright hard going, and it was only respect for Lovecraft's influence that kept me slogging forward on the months-long journey between other books that it took for me to knock this one off.

These days writers are told to show, not tell, but Lovecraft is the king of telling, resisting every temptation to show the reader anything much at all, in favour of repeated extended circumlocutions around the awfulness or terror induced by seeing something that is so awful that it cannot be described. Monsters are so horrifying as to be beyond description. Horrifying artifacts are so horrifying as to beyond description. Ancient rituals are... you get the gist. As a storytelling technique this might work once, but it is a common feature in many of the stories in this collection and I grew very, very tired of the paucity of description.

I don't need to see a knife slowly cutting through someone's carotid artery in all its bloody detail, but for goodness sake, at least show me what sort of knife it is, and the approximate appearance of the person it is going to be used on.

In saying all of that I did enjoy visiting some of the locations I've seen in Lovecraft-based games, such as Arkham and the Miskatonic university. I enjoyed some of the stories, such as The Colour From Space, and really liked The Shadow over Innsmouth- a story with a bit more description and action than many of Lovecraft's other works.

I can't recommend this collection as a whole but if you're interested in tackling it I strongly recommend reading each story separately over a longer period of time. Read too closely together their similar tone and style can become grating, and Lovecraft's writing tics can quickly become dull.
Profile Image for Keith.
Author 15 books226 followers
October 28, 2018
My life sort of changed a little bit this year when, for no reason at all, I decided to give Lovecraft a go. I picked up the three Penguin editions of his work that (I believe) gather almost all the stories he published in his lifetime, and have not been disappointed. Which probably deserves a qualifier -- I went into his ouvre with a certain expectation of what I would find, and found exactly that and more so. His faults as a writer (and, okay, as a human being) are unavoidable, but seriously? The was a grown man who couldn't keep a job and lived with his mom, and these stories still drip like an oil over the soul. No fiction you have ever read will leave you as inexplicably raw as this stuff will (I say 'inexplicably' so as not to discount the many books that offend in more obvious ways).

It's partly because of their sheer paranoia and despair, and partly -- and this is why it's worth it -- because there is something secret and true here. Not necessarily true in the people-are-really-taken-over-by-evil-mermen way, or the ghost-dog-actually-chasing-you-beneath-the-desert-tombs way, but true in that Lovecraft's stories essentially discuss humanity the way I dissected cats in twelfth grade science -- from a distance, with vague moral discomfort made worse when lain parallel with a guilty need to poke around in foreign guts.
Profile Image for Karl.
3,258 reviews264 followers
Want to read
February 16, 2018
Lovecraft Illustrated volume 7


ix - Introduction by S. T. Joshi (2015)
003 - "The Call of Cthulhu" by H. P. Lovecraft
051 - "Making Some Calls" by Pete Von Sholly (2015)
057 - "On the Emergence of "Cthulhu" "by Steven J. Mariconda (2015)
067 - "The Other Name of Azathoth" by Robert M. Price (2015)
079 - "Cthulhu Elsewhere in Lovecraft" by Robert M. Price (1982)
085 - "Heeding "The Call of Cthulhu" " by W. H. Pugmire (2015)
091 - "On Making "The Call of Cthulhu" " by Sean Branney (2015)
097 - "Adapting "The Call of Cthulhu" as a Silent Movie" by Andrew Leman (2015)
107 - "The Dreamer in the House" by Pete Von Sholly (2015)

Cover and Interior Illustrations - by Pete Von Sholly (2015)
Profile Image for Timothy Urgest.
503 reviews263 followers
October 17, 2019
They had come from the stars, and had brought Their images with Them.

Despite Lovecraft's social and xenophobic failings, his intellectual imagination is deserving of merit. You cannot help but be inspired and desire to crawl into the void of his seething mindscapes. I want to believe in the eldritch manifestations he brings into light.

My favorites in this collection: "Dagon," "The Festival," "The Call of Cthulhu," "The Colour Out of Space," and "The Whisperer in Darkness."

"I choose weird stories because they suit my inclination best—one of my strongest and most persistent wishes being to achieve, momentarily, the illusion of some strange suspension or violation of the galling limitations of time, space, and natural law which forever imprison us and frustrate our curiosity about the infinite cosmic spaces beyond the radius of our sight and analysis."
-H. P. Lovecraft
Profile Image for Dream.M.
453 reviews90 followers
April 12, 2020
این کتاب ترسناک نیست!
این کتاب ترسناک نیست!
این کتاب ترسناک نیست!
با داستانهای این جلد بیشتر حال کردم، فکر میکنم بخاطر ترجمه‌ی بهترش بود. مرسی از فرزین سوری و رفقاش :*
اما به تمام ارواح مردگان و خدایان ترسناک تاریخ کائنات قسم، هرکاری کردم ترسم نیومد. حتی خوندنش در نیمه شب، زیر نور رعد و برق درحالیکه پنجره اتاق بازبود و پرده ها با وزش باد سرد شکل ارواح رقصان رو بخودشون گرفته بودن، کمکی نکرد.
آقای لاوکرفت گرلمی، تو سعیت رو کردی، شایدم نکردی، شاید اگر تنبل نبودی و ایده های خلاقانه‌ات رو بیشتر پرورش میدادی بهتر بود. بنظرم اون ایده‌ای توصیف نکردن موجودات ترسناک به بهانه‌ای اینکه کلمه‌ای برای توصیفشون وجود نداره ،یا صداهایی که هیچ بشری نشنیده و اینجور سرکار گذاشتن خواننده اصلا خوب کار نکرده. من میذارم به حساب تنبلی ذهنیت چون خودمم خیلی ازش استفاده میکنم وقتی حوصله توضیح ندارم.
در کل ایده های اولیه داستانها رو دوست دارم، ولی خیلی هول هولکی شروع و تموم میشن. درست مثل تعریف کردن کابوس سر صبحه. یکی اگر باشه فن‌فیکشن این داستانا رو بنویسه خیلی خوب میشه :)) هر کدوم از داستانهای کوتاهش پتانسیل داستان بلند شدن رو دارن بنظرم.
هفت تا داستان کوتاه بود که "موشها در دیوار" و "هیپونوس" رو بیشتر دوست داشتم چون اون فرم ابهام و معماگونه‌شون قویتر بودن از بقیه. از اون جمله های کذایی " در وصف نیاید" و " در این مقال نگنجد" هم خیلی کمتر استفاده کرده :)))))
دیشب که فیلم seven seal رو دیدم بیشتر ترسیدم
Profile Image for Gabrielle.
996 reviews1,129 followers
October 28, 2018
October spooky read #10!

Yup, the good old classic. And like most classics, it has quite a few flaws, mercifully balanced with enough imagination and silliness that one can still enjoy these short stories despite some truly off-putting elements.

I would lie if I pretended this book was easy to review, or to recommend. People usually either love or hate Lovecraft – I can see why, and his work is definitely not for everyone. If you can’t laugh at affected, excessively florid prose, don’t even bother. If you like the idea of sentient oozing green goo, step right up! But seriously: his thing was the ineffable, so you need to use your own imagination to make his stories creepy. All he will do is hint at what could possibly be lurking in shadows, or what those cultists might be summoning, and the rest is up to you. Most of his mysterious stories remain unsolved, and that can both frustrating and very creepy, but people who need their horror spelled out for them will not get into it. This is for those of us who love ideas like books with a mind of their own, geographies that will dive a man mad, strange not-quite-humanoid creatures, secret forgotten cults worshiping strange and ancient gods.

Also, given his incredible influence over horror, weird, fantasy, science-fiction and pop culture (see “In The Mountains of Madness” https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...), this little collection is a must-read if only because it is so seminal. You don’t have to like the guy, but knowing what inspired the greatest minds of genre literature and cinema is very interesting (at least, to nerds like me). It can definitely be a challenging read, both because of the style, repetition of a few tropes, and of course, the occasional unsavory descriptions. But when they are good, Lovecraft’s stories are truly wonderful, atmospheric and spooky. He created a world of dark menace, filled with truly alien entities whose motivations the human mind simply cannot grasp, and that world has spread like a virus into the mind of so many other writers and artists…

This collection, edited by S.T. Joshi, is the perfect place to start for Lovecraft newbies. Joshi carefully selected stories that are loosely connected to each other, provided a great introduction that will inform the reader about Lovecraft’s theories on writing and on horror, and includes notes about each story. But on the first read, my advice is to ignore the academic analysis and just dive in. Have a cocktail and read it aloud to yourself (or to a willing friend), as theatrically as you can.

"The Statement of Randolph Carter" remains a weird stand out for me, as does the title story (obviously), but I also really love "The Whisperer in Darkness" (adapted into a fantastic movie by the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society in 2011) and "The Shadow Over Innsmouth". While this tome includes a few weaker stories, they all introduce important items over the Lovecratian Universe, like the town of Arkham, Massachusetts and it's infamous Miskatonic University, the Necronomicon is mentioned in several tales - and obviously, the Old Ones and their eon old cult, which can be found in isolated areas all over the globe. First-time readers and novices should definitely start here.

A flawed must-read, if only to satisfy your intellectual curiosity about what this whole Cthulhu business is about. I agree that other writers built on his groundwork and wrote better-written and more interesting stories, but the twisted root of one of my favorite genres is well worth the detour. 4 and a half stars.
Profile Image for Apatt.
507 reviews780 followers
March 5, 2021
Back in 2014, I reviewed an HPL anthology called The Best of H.P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre. At the time it was the top HPL title on Goodreads, but I did notice that a few of his more popular stories are not included in that volume. Having just reread some HPL stories I thought now may be a good time to review this book which has supplanted the aforementioned “Best of”.
If you have read or are interested to read HPL you probably enjoy horror fiction, HPL is different from any other horror writers I can think of in that, with rare exceptions, he writes a specific type of horror, called “cosmic horror” set in the “Cthulhu Mythos” that he (sort of*) created. The basic idea is that before the advent of mankind the world was once ruled by the “Great Old Ones”, god-like aliens who went into centuries of hibernation the reason for which is unknown (that is, not made clear by HPL!). During this mega-nap time, mankind came into the world. These vast beings are not evil or malevolent as such, they just think humans are not much cop and to be ignored or carelessly squished upon encounter. This reflects HPL’s philosophy that humanity is too insignificant in the grand scheme of things for the universe to bother about. Not that many readers would read his stories for the philosophy, they are just weirdly entertaining read, he actually popularised the term “weird fiction” and is one of the subgenre’s most influential figures.

This anthology “The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories” of course contains most of his best stories. I will just run through them briefly, some of them I already reviewed in my The Best of H.P. Lovecraft review.

An unnamed protagonist encounters a fishy god-like entity, drives him batty of course. This is a very short and atmospheric story. People who encounter the Lovecraftian creatures do not usually get to keep their marbles.

The Statement of Randolph Carter
For a change, we get a named protagonist, the eponymous character. This is one of HPL’s stories with a “tell, don’t show” climax, entirely reliant on atmosphere.
“I can’t tell you, Carter! It’s too utterly beyond thought—I dare not tell you—no man could know it and live—Great God! I never dreamed of THIS!”
Which is why “THIS” is never described, HPL did not want your death on his hands.

Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family
“The Jermyns never seemed to look quite right—something was amiss,”
A rather long-winded story tracing the history of a weird family with apes ancestors. This cartoon based on this story is hilarious.

A man called Kuranes dreams of Celephaïs, a place in the Valley of Ooth-Nargai, beyond the Tanarian Hills (don’t ask, try Google Maps).
Now, this is very odd because the protagonist dreams of nice things in a nice place, not in our world of course. Wut?

“A land of quaint gardens and cherry trees, and when the sun rose he beheld such beauty of red and white flowers, green foliage and lawns, white paths, diamond brooks, blue lakelets, carven bridges, and red-roofed pagodas.”

The Hound
"Wearied with the commonplaces of a prosaic world, where even the joys of romance and adventure soon grow stale, St. John and I had followed enthusiastically every aesthetic and intellectual movement which promised respite from our devastating ennui."
HPL at his most verbose, I would have gone with “Me and Johnny got bored with the same old crap, so we looked for some weird stuff to do”. Anyway, a couple of tomb raiders steal an amulet from an ancient corpse in a Dutch cemetery. A lot of hounding ensues. Not a bad story, nice brooding atmosphere.

The Festival
Another unnamed protagonist goes to visit his ancestral village, there he is invited to join a bizarre festival at a secret shore. Fun times (for the readers, not so much for him).

This reminds me of the Twilight Zone a bit. Yet another unnamed protagonist is invited by a weird dude to his house and witnesses weird scenes through a window. Soon it is not just the window…

Cool Air
This really is cool. The protagonist befriends a weird doctor who lives in cool temperatures and sustains his poor health in some arcane ways. A little like Mr. Freeze from Batman, but weirder.

Herbert West – Reanimator
Reviewed at length here
One of his best! Nothing to do with the Cthulhu mythos or mad Paula Abdul and the Necronomicon.

And many more!
The following stories are covered in my The Best of H.P. Lovecraft review.

• The Picture in the House
• The Outsider
• The Rats in the Walls
• The Call of Cthulhu
• The Colour Out of Space
• The Whisperer in Darkness
• The Shadow Over Innsmouth
• The Haunter of the Dark

* HPL never intentionally created the “Cthulhu Mythos”, he created Cthulhu himself and the background details for the world he sets most of his stories in. He did not mind other writers taking his ideas and run with them, even if they are inconsistent with his own stories, probably because he was not making much money off these ideas anyway. The poor fellow died almost penniless and only achieved great fame posthumously.

Quite a few of these stories I like more in retrospect than while reading them. This is due to his often verbose writing style which can be a chore to decipher and does a disservice to otherwise good stories.
Profile Image for Ethan.
215 reviews236 followers
October 6, 2020
H.P. Lovecraft lived in poverty most of his life, died a painful death at a young age, and only lived to see one of his novels published during his lifetime (The Shadow Over Innsmouth). His short stories were also only published in pulp fiction magazines (mainly Weird Tales) during his lifetime, and were largely unappreciated. In my opinion it is one of the great tragedies in the history of literature that Lovecraft was not celebrated during his lifetime for his incredible works.

Today, Lovecraft is considered one of the greatest horror authors who ever lived. His fiction created an entire mythos that authors still expand on to this day. This collection contains, in my opinion, many of his best works. Some of these, like The Shadow Over Innsmouth, I consider to be perfect, and among the best novellas or short stories I've ever read. Though mostly helpful, I occasionally found the notes by S.T. Joshi to be a bit excessive, to the point of annoyance, and thought some contained borderline obsessive amounts of detail. His notes and story introductions also occasionally contain spoilers, which I found very irritating. On the whole, however, this book is incredible and a must-read for any fan of horror or supernatural fiction. Highly, highly recommended.
Profile Image for Micah (the distracted librarian).
27 reviews91 followers
April 21, 2021
I wish I could rate this book purely on the merits of literary talent, but to do so would be irresponsible to those who might be swayed by my recommendation. I don't see many references to Lovecraft's personal flaws in this review section, so I feel obligated to at least mention some.

While I was captivated by the profound nuance of the ideas being conveyed in the story, there were a few remarks that caught my attention as potentially harboring significant undertones; so I decided to research Lovecraft's political views and opinions. Turns out he was an outspoken xenophobic and racist, and I'm not invoking these terms in a manner approaching a slandering Machiavellian reporter; I mean, the guy was textbook.

To counter apologists, I will quote his "On the Creation of Ni**ers":
When, long ago, the gods created Earth
In Jove's fair image Man was shaped at birth.
The beasts for lesser parts were next designed;
Yet were they too remote from humankind.
To fill the gap, and join the rest to Man,
Th'Olympian host conceiv'd a clever plan.
A beast they wrought, in semi-human figure,
Filled it with vice, and called the thing a Ni**er.

His politics were similarly disturbing, converging over time toward fascism. Of course, being a prominent figure in the early 20th century with an intellectual caliber diametric to the modern skinhead, we must understand that these were emerging views not contrarian at the time. But still, it is hard to excuse such an influential figure this degree of intolerance.

In a letter to Donald Wandrei, Lovecraft once wrote:
"[Hitler’s] vision is of course romantic & immature, & colored with a fact ignoring emotionalism … There surely is an actual Hitler peril–yet that cannot blind us to the honest rightness of the man’s basic urge … I repeat that there is a great & pressing need behind every one of the major planks of Hitlerism–racial-cultural continuity, conservative cultural ideals, & an escape from the absurdities of Versailles. The crazy thing is not what Adolf wants, but the way he sees it & starts out to get it. I know he’s a clown, but by God, I like the boy!

As in the modern examples of Michael Jackson or Kevin Spacey, we must ask if we should support the work of the artist who overcasts their art with personal failings. Even though Lovecraft died in 1937, I still see the perpetuation of his ideas as being potentially damaging to those who might fail to see the issue as non-sequitur. I have therefore chosen to rate this work 2.5/5 stars, averaging the 5 star art with the 1 star artist.

It's a shame; I was loving this book so much!
Profile Image for Shivam Chaturvedi.
42 reviews97 followers
August 9, 2016
And I'd be very interested to know what it was that Mr Lovecraft was in the habit of smoking while writing these stories. Very, very interested.

Lovecraft while writing this book - Yo, I got the best stuff in town! *Fistbump*

Me while reading this book - Should have never dropped this much acid at one go. Never..

Cthulhu in the meanwhile - Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn....Damn it bro, this stuff is strong; I dont even what I am talkin' about
Profile Image for Ints.
735 reviews72 followers
November 11, 2021
Vai kādreiz veroties Mēnesī tā pilnajā spozmē, tu esi sajutis, cik ļauni tas lūkojas pretī, un kā šī sajūta tevi nelaiž vaļā dienām? Un tad tu nododies šaubām, kurš Senais tas bija, kas pievērsa savu šaušalīgo uzmanību tavai niecīgajai radībai … Kā piemēram, kādēļ Ziemasvētku eglīšu mantiņas reizēm pašas no sevis sāk izdot skaņas, kas skan kā stabulēšana un ieklausoties dzirdi “Tekeli-li! Tekel-li!”? Kādēļ jūras ciema krastā zivis tirgojošās tantiņas vienmēr pat karstākajā vasaras dienā nēsā ap kaklu šalli un jo tālāk no pilsētas tu atrodies, jo mazāk tu saproti viņu valodu? Kādēļ veco mājvietu vietā visilgāk saglabājas ābeļdārzi un aizaugušas akas? Tikai šis Lavkrafta stāstu krājums spēs tev sniegt atbildi uz šo un uz daudziem citiem jautājumiem, ko tu savā prātā nemaz nespēj pats noformulēt un uzdot.

Šajā stāstu krājumā ir apkopoti daži un, iespējams, labākie no Lavkrafta stāstiem – Dagons, Ktulu aicinājums, Krāsa no kosmosa, Danvičas šausmas, Čukstētājs tumsā, Ārprāta kalnos un Ēna pār Insmūtu. Lvakrafta daiļrades pazinējs pamanīs, ka te nav neviena Sapņu cikla stāsta, bet, būsim godīgi, ar tiem var piepildīt atsevišķu stāstu krājumu.

Pats ar Lavkraftu iepazinos deviņdesmito gadu vidū izlasot stāstu “Krāsa no kosmosa” krievu valodā. Neteikšu, ka tas mani baigi pārsteidza, jo viss jau šķita kut kur lasīts un redzēts. Tajos tālajos laikos, kad lasīju visu, kam virsū uzrakstīti burti, es vēl nebiju nonācis līdz atziņai, ka rakstnieki mēdz aizņemties idejas no saviem priekštečiem, un šausmu literatūrā Lavkrafts ir gan pats aizņēmies, bet vēl vairāk ir aizņēmušies no viņa. Pilnībā visus viņa stāstus izlasīju tikai divtūkstošo sākumā un tad jau es spēju ar pirkstu parādīt, kurš autors ko no viņa ir aizlienējis. Lavkrafta stāsti nav zaudējuši ietekmi arī šodien, laiku pa laikam parādās pa antoloģijai, kurās apkopoti mūsdienu autoru stāsti, kuri norit Lavkrafta mitosa pasaulē, tomēr nekas nevar aizstāt arī paša oriģināla lasīšanu. Un nu par dažiem krājuma stāstiem:

Šajā krājumā mans favorīts ir “Ārprāta kalni”. Šai stāstā autors ir noslēpis visas šausmas vienā no pēdējiem baltajiem plankumiem , kas vēl atlicis uz Zemes Antarktīdā. Zinātnieku ekspedīcija tur atrod ne tikai senu civilizāciju paliekas, bet arī vēl senākus šausmīgus notikumus, kas nav zaudējuši savu spēku un to vien gaida, lai apdraudētu mūsu civilizāciju. Jebkura jauna zinātnes nozare paver durvis atklājumiem un šajā stāstā gods atvērt Pandoras lādi tiek uzticēts arheoloģijai un polārpētniecībai. Neliela, bet labi finansēta ekspedīcija piedzīvo patiesu ārprātu vēl neatklātajā kontinentā, un izdzīvojušie vēlas, lai par viņu atklājumiem neviens nekad neuzzinātu. Episks stāsts, kurš ietekmēs literatūru, kinematogrāfiju un datorspēles vēl ilgi. 10 no 10 ballēm.

“Čukstētājs tumsā” – Karkosa un Hastūrs te ir pieminēti tikai kā vārdi šausmonīgos rituālos, par kuru patieso dabu mēs varam nojaust tikai no trakā arāba Nekronomikona un Pnekotiskajiem manuskriptiem. Bet stāsts ir labs, pa Senajiem, kas mums līdzās dzīvo jau no senseniem laikiem. Par to, kā cilvēces izplešanās ASV mežonīgajos apgabalos ir radījusi sadursmi starp Senajiem un cilvēkiem. Zinātnieki kā vienmēr ir apbrīnojami naivi un lētticīgi, vietējais novadpētnieks izpilda episku last stand pret citdimensiju ordām, viņa liktenis paliek neskaidrs. Viņa līdzinātājs paliek, lai pastāstītu stāstu. Plutona atklāšana ir liela kļūda. 10 no 10 ballēm.

“Ktulu aicinājums”– interesants vecmeistara stāsts, kas radīja Ktulu, un šeit ir par viņa atgriešanos. Kaut kur Jaunzēlandes krastu tuvumā parādās ne vairāk ne mazāk R’ljē pilsēta, tas viss sapīts kopā ar sapņiem un dīvainiem kultiem, stāsts ir pa pirmo. 9 no 10 ballēm. Jābrīdina, ka šis stāsts pēc mūsdienu standartiem ir ļoti rasistisks un autors nudien neslēpj savus uzskatus par kanakiem un citiem jaukteņiem. Neatkarīgi no stāsta novēroju, ka Jaunzēlandes cilvēkiem Kutulu nav svešs un mans t-krekls ar uzrakstu Obey Cthulhu zinātāju vidū tika uzņemts ar atzinību gan lielveikalā, gan vulkānu piekājē. “Ktulu fhtagn”, “Ktulu fhtagn”

Šis nu ir stāstu krājums, kuru es noteikti ieteiktu izlasīt katram šausmu stāstu cienītājam, jā, iespējams viņi ir nedaudz atšālējušies, jo grūti jau stāstam noturēties pretī gandrīz simts atklājumu gadiem. Ja godīgi ir arī nedaudz dīvaini, ka vajadzēja gaidīt tik ilgu laiku, lai kāds tik apjomīgu Lavkrafta darbu krājumu izdotu latviešu valodā.
Profile Image for Kiarash.
109 reviews27 followers
June 9, 2021
"قدیمی ترین و قوی ترین احساس آدمی ترس است، و قدیمی ترین و قوی ترین نوع آن، ترس از ناشناخته هاست."

اچ. پی. لاوکرفت

کتاب حاضر مجموعه ای از ده داستان کوتاه نوشته هاوارد فیلیپس لاوکرفت، یکی از بزرگترین نویسندگان ژانر وحشت می باشد. لاوکرفت به قدری بر روی این ژانر تاثیر گذار بود که زیرژانری به نام وحشت کیهانی را پایه گذاری کرد و به لطف فلسفه ، اساطیر و فضاسازی هایش توانست تاثیر شگرفی بر روی اکثر نویسندگان ژانر وحشت و برخی از نویسندگان ژانر فانتزی بگذارد. داستان های این کتاب در عین مستقل بودن در جهانی مشترک روایت می شوند و هر کدام ارتباط خاصی به نوع جهان بینی عجیب لاوکرفت و روحیات وی دارند. لاوکرفت
در آثارش تاکید بسیاری بر عاجز و بی اهمیت بودن انسان در مقابل جهان هستی و حقایق پنهانش دارد، به گونه ای که نقش اصلی داستان هایش ، پس از پی بردن به حقایق هولناک پشت پرده جهان هستی، خیلی زود دچار سقوط به ورطه جنون و یا مرگ زودهنگام می شوند، که تاکید خاص او به محدود بودن ظرفیت های ذهن انسان را نشان می دهد.

لاوکرفت اعتقاد داشت که انسان نباید پرده از برخی از اسرار دنیا بردارد و عدم آگاهی انسان در مورد کلیت جهان هستی، بزرگترین موهبت بشریت به حساب می آید چرا که در صورت آگاهی هم کاری نمی تواند در قبالش انجام دهد. کتاب پیش رو، با این که با عنوان احضار کطولحو، معروف ترین داستانش نامگذاری شده، اما شامل داستان های کوتاه به مراتب بهتری می باشد که از جمله آن ها می توان به "رنگی از فضا" و "موجودی پشت درگاه" اشاره کرد که مورد اول برخلاف اکثر داستان هایش، نمونه بارزی از وحشت تن می باشد که الهام بخش بسیاری از وحشت نویسان ژاپنی بوده است. آثار لاوکرفت تاکید بسیاری به نوع فلسفه اش دارند و هیچ تلاشی برای ایجاد ترس لحظه ای نمی کنند بلکه مخاطب را به تفکر وامیدارند؛ بنابراین عامه پسند نیستند.

در مجموع این نویسنده با آثارش نشان داد که آثار ژانر وحشت می توانند درون مایه فلسفی هم داشته باشند و نویسندگان این ژانر می توانند در قالب وحشت حرف های زیادی برای گفتن داشته باشند.
Profile Image for lavenderews.
509 reviews730 followers
September 4, 2021
Ależ to było genialnie napisane. Lovecraft potrafi świetnie rozpoczynać kolejne historie, nadając im klimatu przesiąkniętego lękiem i mrokiem.
Profile Image for Frankh.
845 reviews160 followers
May 26, 2020
"Even death may die.."

American author H.P Lovecraft is such a prominent and prolific horror writer that a subgenre of horror was even named after him. Lovecraftian horror involves "the cosmic horror of the unknown and the unknowable more than gore or other elements of shock". With this mind, I was quite excited to read this anthology which collected his finest eighteen short stories throughout the years. This paperback edition I own even includes a great introductory essay to the life and times of Lovecraft, as well as explanatory notes that serve as expansions of ideas taken from his stories; a glossary that also offers more insights to his writing process, influence and conceptualization.

Frankly, I think The Call of Cthulu and Other Weird Stories is a fascinating though difficult read.

I have my reservations both in reviewing and recommending this anthology. I don't believe this is exactly something anyone can just enjoy and appreciate. In fact, upon closer inspection, I found that most tales included in this volume are interrelated, if not indirectly referential of each other. This is probably because Lovecraft, like all great literary masters, has created his own fictional universes where these stories breathe. For example, mentions of the place Arkham happens frequently, as well as the elusive grimoire known as the Necronomicon.

This could mean that for a novice, the collection may get alienating here and there. If this is the very first Lovecraft material you will ever read, then I think this particular anthology might baffle you at times because the degree of difficulty to his prose that might not be accessible to a reader more used to a contemporary and more straightforward style of storytelling, particularly when it comes to horror.

Speaking of which, I rather found Lovecraft's style challenging myself. There are so many adjectives and lengthy phrases; his general tonality can be bizarrely bone-dry in delivery which sometimes dilutes whatever horrific or terrifying plot thread you're supposed to be following. To be perfectly honest, a few of the stories in the volume have rendered me sluggish, mostly because I could predict the ending. In addition to that, there are three of four stories that are mostly repetitive, thematic-wise. I think these are my major criticisms of the anthology in general. However, his style isn't necessarily a bad thing though. When a certain story being told is unbelievably haunting and evocative, Lovecraft's prose can put you under a terrifying trance. What such stories excel in isn't about the gore or the shocking twist, really. It's the slow-burning build-up that leads to the tragedy. The Call of Cthulu and Other Weird Stories is ruthlessly engaging when you least expect it to and that's what made the obstacles along the way worth conquering as a reader.

I think this anthology would be more enjoyable when one's focus is singular. You can consume this in a slower pace if it means developing a richer and deeper understanding of what makes Lovecraft's stories so magnetic. Personally, I would re-read the stories again just so I can spot more connections among them. After all, I think this volume doesn't even cover the wide expanse of the Lovecraft universe, particularly that of the Cthulu mythos which is a rather influential piece of fiction and a tirelessly imaginative lore that has enchanted other writers across generations to contribute their own works to this perplexing creature of the most visceral and unknowable of horrors ever realized in fiction. The story Festival is credited as probably the first time Lovecraft has tried to weave Cthulu mythos for the very first time. I highly suggest that you and I check out more about said mythos in other collections.

I only have five stories that I would consider absolute favorites because they spoke to me in the most unpleasant yet invigorating ways. Understandably, I must include the namesake The Call of Cthulhu which was simply the stuff that makes nightmares real. Elaborate and layered with puzzles within puzzles, this story leaves so much to the reader's interpretation as it slowly crawls its way into your consciousness; right until the moment when you realize that it's irreversibly stuck in the damaged corners of your own mind. Two other stories like Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family and The Picture in the House are astounding because Lovecraft has woven them in a way that makes the discovery at the end so dreadful to comprehend. The suspense in these stories are unforgivably subtle, as if it only managed to graze my skin, but further reflection of these tales would reveal just how much they made me slightly sick to my stomach.

The stories Herbert West -- Reanimator and The Rats in the Walls really got under my skin. The former was definitely the best horror story I ever read about resurrecting dead people that I think rivals even Mary Shelley's classical novel Frankenstein. I could imagine watching the story unfold on screen which was why I want to watch the said film version of this story soon enough. Meanwhile, the latter story almost, sort of, destroyed me. It was an exploration of madness that is so hard to put in words even as I type this review unless one has dabbled in something akin to it (which, unfortunately, I once had back when I was less in control of my mental state as a young girl).

The Rats in the Walls symbolize a rude awakening where there really is no way you can ever go back; where a physical manifestation of your fears become a consuming preoccupation that can deteriorate the rest of your soul. I think there are many levels to this story that will make for a fruitful discussion. It's almost painful for me to read this tale without cringing in revulsion and distress.

Some other noteworthy tales to read are The Whisperer in Darkness, The Colour Out of Space, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, and The Haunter of the Dark. They are deft and daring in concept and execution and would make you question certain comfortable things in life after finishing them.

In a nutshell, H.P Lovecraft's The Call of Cthulu and Other Weird Stories is a worthwhile and challenging reading experience that I can only recommend to people who are prepared for something drastically eye-opening. The very best of the stories included in this anthology are like itches you can only keep scratching if the relief you garner from it also means that you have to bleed.


Read more of my review in:
Profile Image for Michelle Curie.
739 reviews366 followers
August 18, 2019
"The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of the infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far."

For a long time, Lovecraft himself seemed to be a bit of a myth to me. Until recently, I have never read anything written by him and yet a disconcerting amount of pop culture I've consumed in my life (may that be a TV show such as Stranger Things or even a video game like Bloodborne) would be described as "Lovecraftian" by somebody who knew more about it than me. How could an author, who died as young as he did and who didn't even write a full-length novel influence an entire genre even a hundred years after his lifetime to this extent? It all lead me to believe that it was my fate to meet the so-called father of horror.

This book presents a selection of stories, from early tales to the most famous nightmare of "The Call of Cthulhu". This edition proved to be the perfect introduction to Lovecraft's writing, as each story is introduced and carefully annotated, providing interesting and valuable background-knowledge.

I've spent a fair amount of time thinking about what it is that draws people to horror as a form of entertainment. Why seek out the horrible? Why look for things that may scare us? Why is it gives us the ability to even find pleasure in feelings that are evoked by the dark? I might not have found the answers yet, but what I am sure of is that it is the unknown that is particularly exciting. The potential of something terrible is much scarier than being faced with a monster upfront - things we can't perceive we can't fight and that's when things get unpredictable.

Lovecraft plays with the idea of unsolved mysteries a lot, which is his biggest strength. I love how he created an entire universe and embedded it seamlessly into ours - in his stories, he introduces us to Arkham, a fictional city and location of many of his stories; the Old Ones, a powerful supernatural entity and he is also the inventor of the Necronomicon as well as the Cthulhu myth. His imagination is rich, integral and unlike anyone else's. I can totally see why his writing was a real game-changer for the genre.

Admittedly, I'm still left undecided about what to think of Lovecraft's writing. I had a problem with how the narrators basically all sounded the same and were sometimes even transparent or irrelevant to what was being told. Reading the stories back to back I had to keep reminding myself that what I was reading was not a sequel to the previous story, despite the similarity in tone and narrative voice. It was impossible to relate to the protagonists, as they all expressed their thoughts in a very sober and impersonal, almost scientifically dry manner.

There's a good chance I'll come back to Lovecraft's writing at some point to revisit the dead and waiting Cthulhu and friends.
Profile Image for Anthony Vacca.
423 reviews279 followers
December 15, 2017
This book of Lovecraft’s fiction, the first of three nearly definitive collections published by Penguin, offers a career-spanning selection of short and long stories that wades new readers through the shallow waters of his early weird fiction before abandoning them in the deeps of his later tales of cosmic chaos and flesh turned traitorous. It’s all here: undead entities and invasive alien civilizations with a profound indifference toward the human condition; prissy narrators who fancy themselves erudite men of action until they succumb inevitably to madness and occasional suicide; a total disregard for dialogue that is strikingly uncharacteristic of 20th century fiction; the glaring absence of women weighed with the abundance of subterranean and underwater monstrosities sporting undulating horrors for orifices; both admiration and disgust for American architecture; a xenophobic loathing that is sometimes successfully sublimated into body horror both nightmarish and sophisticated; fictional bibliographies of infernal texts and phonetic transcriptions of evil gibberish; New England reimagined as the long-standing playground of celestial fiends; long passages of atmosphere rendered with a lively, and endearingly consistent, vocabulary; a patient and pseudo-empirical approach to disassembling a reader’s perception of reality; and a pessimistic worldview whose pervasiveness is redeemed by an unchecked sense of wonder. A truly singular artist deserving of his wealth of supplicants and detractors.
Profile Image for Dan Henk.
Author 10 books29 followers
February 18, 2013
I think Lovecraft often gets a bad rap. People read that he influenced the modern greats, everyone from authors like Stephen King and Clive Barker, to movie makers like John Carpenter and Wes Craven, and then dive into his books expecting the same fare. He wrote for a different era. His mind-bending, first person surrealistic approach to a creeping, nameless horror stunned and fascinated huge segments of early century America. The America that read, that is, which wasn't nearly what it is today. I enjoy his approach, even if some of it is a bit florid, but his ideas are dauntless. They broke conventions and rearranged the way a future breed of horror authors would look at the world. Even today, I find them stunningly original, and well worth the read. If any sound familiar, it is only because they have been copied, usually far less efficiently, by later day authors.
Profile Image for Maliha Tabassum Tisha.
127 reviews319 followers
January 27, 2021
Stories I liked most:
- The Call of Cthulhu (4 stars)
- Celephaïs (5 stars)
- The Outsider (5 stars)
- The Rats in the Walls (4 stars)
- The Shadow Over Innsmouth (4 stars)
- The Color out of Space (3.5 stars)
- The Haunter of the Dark (3.5 stars)
Profile Image for soren karimi.
259 reviews77 followers
December 24, 2021
ما منتظریم.
منتظریم حضرت بیدار شود و همه‌مان را تطهیر کند.
Profile Image for Wren (fablesandwren).
675 reviews1,501 followers
September 17, 2020
I love the creeps, gore and the all-around horror in books. I watch American Horror Story religiously, I live by the code of The Slayers that Joss Whedon laid out for us in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I research serial killers and studies of their psychological states and look forward to the month of October all year round. So as someone who would rather watch a scary movie or go through a museum filled to the tip of mass murder and corruption than go on some overly-dramatic, romantic date filled with dozens of roses and walks in the park, why doesn’t Lovecraft and King’s story telling agree with me?

Don’t get me wrong, I love the theatrical adaptions of King so I am assuming that I would love them of H.P. Lovecraft as well, no matter how ironic his last name is. But I can’t seem to stop getting distracted while reading books written by the two dominate horror-writers. Whether it be a pretty butterfly fluttering a foot away or my mind wondering to the never-ending list of books I want and need to read.

I just don’t feel like a story actually happened. I feel like an old man sat down and told me this horrible thing that he saw once or read about in a documentation his uncle left him, but not the how, the when, the where or the why. Just the what.

I feel like a tentacle face is only scary with the story surrounding him. Without that, I am just imagining Davy Jones and Captain Jack Sparrow and then I crave a marathon of Pirates of the Caribbean.


October reads of horror!
Profile Image for Vilis.
593 reviews92 followers
November 6, 2021
Bail kaut ko teikt par grāmatu, jo pats esmu bijis tur iesaistīts un zinu - ja tajā ieslēpto patiesību uzzinās vēl kāds cilvēks, viņa dzīvē nekad vairs nebūs miera un gaismas.
Profile Image for Michael Sorbello.
Author 1 book239 followers
January 9, 2022
Dagon - 4/5

Despite being one of Lovecraft's early stories, it's on par with his later masterpieces such as The Shadow Over Innsmouth and Call of Cthulhu. A very short yet classic tale that touches on one of my greatest fears; the unknown horrors of the sea and the infinite secrets that it holds within itself. Discovering dark secrets and higher beings never meant to be witnessed by human eyes, being driven to madness and suicidal tendencies, hallucinatory encounters with unfathomable horrors, all of the Lovecraftian staples are present here. The writing is phenomenal, rivaling the effectiveness of his greatest works that he would go on to write at the end of his career.


The Outsider - 4/5

This was a hidden gem that I wasn’t expecting to be as good as it was. A very short story that somehow captures the same level of dread and gothic atmosphere of works like The Curse of Yig and the Diary of Alonzo Typer in just a few pages. The gothic aesthetic is very reminiscent to E.F. Benson’s The Room in the Tower and Poe’s House of Usher (only in terms of setting not story.)


The Hound - 4/5

Wow, Lovecraft created a pretty harrowing and dreadful piece without a single mention of the infamous elder gods or Lovecraftian monstrosities. This was pure gothic horror, much more akin to Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu with all of the romantic horrors of the unexplored and marvelous depictions of graveyards and all that jolly stuff. Very underrated Lovecraft story if you ask me, I’m surprised that Lovecraft himself hated it so much.


The Rats in the Walls - 4/5

Feels like a more fleshed out and intense version of The Lurking Fear. Much of the same elements are borrowed such as the family house with a terrible history, deformed, human-like monstrosities and a very subtle reference to a creature from the Cthulhu Mythos.

The dread and tension as the protagonist explores the dark corridors of the wretched house’s forbidden depths smothers you with its intensity. The decrepit tragedies lurking within its violent and disturbing history were passed down through the ages, giving the dreadful impression that the very foundation of the world is built upon such horrors.


The Haunter of the Dark - 4/5

In Providence, Rhode Island, Robert Blake, a young writer with an interest in the occult, becomes fascinated by a large disused church on Federal Hill which he can see from his lodgings on the city's Upper East side. His researches reveal that the church has a sinister history involving a cult called the Church of Starry Wisdom and is dreaded by the local migrant inhabitants as being haunted by a primeval evil.

Another of Lovecraft's final tales that emphasizes how much he grew as a writer. It's much more personal and his characters have a lot more depth to them. I wish he could've gone on to write for another 30-50 years. I can only imagine how amazing his stories could've became if he had another lifetime's worth of improvement.


The Shadow over Innsmouth - 4/5

A student on an antiquarian tour of New England takes notice of an exotic piece of jewelry in a museum and learns that its source is the nearby decrepit seaport of Innsmouth. He travels to Innsmouth and observes disturbing events and people. It doesn't take long to notice that something is horrifically wrong about the seaport. A local resident informs the student of a horrifying story of aquatic monsters who can interbreed with humans to produce amphibian hybrids and they've made a residence within the waters of Innsmouth. The student is tricked into staying overnight in the seaport town and he is attacked in his hotel by unfathomable beings.

This is definitely one of Lovecraft's scariest tales. The attack and escape sequence within the hotel is incredibly tense and eerie, it rivals The Shining with its use of a wicked hotel and the supernatural entities within it that drive the protagonist to madness. If there's anything you can learn from reading Lovecraft, it's to stay the hell away from large bodies of water.


The Whisperer in Darkness - 4/5

Folklore professor Albert Wilmarth investigates legends of strange creatures in the most remote hills of Vermont. His enquiry reveals a terrifying glimpse of the truth that lurks behind the legends. The answer to what lies beyond the vast cosmos is a question that may better be left unanswered.

One of Lovecraft's best as it takes full advantage of his direction into science fiction rather than pure abstract horror. The elder gods, outer ones and other extraterrestrial beings feel more like real, living beings with their own unique identities, cultures and histories here than any other story in the mythos. The Colour out of Space and Mountains of Madness are other fantastic examples of Lovecraft's turn to science fiction and the humanization of unknown lifeforms. It really adds to the realism. It's a shame he wasn't able to write more of the genre, I can only imagine what he could've accomplished if he lived for another 30-50 years.

The Colour out of Space - 4/5

Foreboding and mysterious. The plot is extremly simple yet one of the most effective Lovecraft has ever written. A strange meteorite from another realm crashes into Europe and buries itself into the soil, contaminating everything in its circumference. The process of contamination is simple. It poisons the soil, it poisons the water, it kills the animals and it drives people mad. Eventually, the place becomes so corrupt that it transforms into an eldritch nightmarescape. To make things even more unsettling, the strange meteorite appears to have sentience and can move freely as it pleases. Perhaps it was never a meteorite in the first place, but something far more sinister?


The Call of Cthulhu - 4/5

Although not my favorite of the Cthulhu Mythos tales, it certainly does the best job of encompassing all of the primary and lovable elements of weird tales and cosmic horror.

Ancient texts, insane cults, forbidden knowledge, social recluses going mad and blasphemous abominations galore.

This is the story that brought it all together, paving way for incredible tales such as The Dunwich Horror, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, At The Mountains of Madness as well as thousands of other tales by writers that followed in Lovecraft’s macabre and charmingly eldritch footsteps.


Cool Air - 4/5

Afraid of death? No worries, just freeze yourself and gain immortality through artificial preservation. One of Lovecraft’s more down-to-earth tales that relies on traditional horror themes instead of his more dream-like and alien works.


He - 3/5

The prose in this story was phenomenal and dripping with eldritch fascination, but the racial undertones dragged it down quite a bit. He could have pulled off a nice dream cycle story here, but chose to go with this instead. Luckily, this was around the point he began to grow out of his discriminatory attitude and moved on to bigger and better things.


The Festival - 3/5

Nothing like a good old jolly Christmas festival, eh? Wrong! This is Lovecraft we're talking about, so of course strange alien monsters and dark forbidden lore is gonna show up to crash the party. This story makes the horrors of the Necronomicon feel more real as it actually provides a quote from the fictional text of terror. The ending is similar to that of Dagon, which is one of my favorites.


Herbert West Reanimator - 3/5

Has all the essential elements of a good Hammer Film Productions piece. It’s gritty and gross, cheesy yet fun and verbose. Feels like a skeletal frame of Frankenstein, just not nearly as long and emotionally complex. Frankenstein is the better book in my opinion, but I gotta give Lovecraft credit for whipping up something that’s pretty damn morbid.


The Statement of Randolph Carter 3/5

The twist at the end was cool in itself, but the way it was delivered made it feel like something you would see in a cheesy, low budget horror film involving a phone call.


Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family - 3/5

The story overall has an intensely mysterious vibe with an exciting buildup, but what could have been an incredible twist ended up being something that had no merit and was rather degrading.


Celephais - 4/5

The concept of this story is one I can relate to on a very personal level. The more the protagonist grows to loathe the contemporary world, the more he begins to value the world of dreams and imagination, much like a modern person would prefer to lose themselves in the comfort of books and music rather than dealing with a painful and depressing reality.


Nyarlathotep - 3/5

A truly nightmarish vision of a horrifying, gothic landscape induced by the frenzied visions from the one called The Crawling Chaos.


The Picture in the House - 3/5

Has the makings of a great horror setting, but the ending falls incredibly flat. The decrepit house where the protagonist is forced to seek shelter during a horrible storm, the ravings of a crazed old man, the blood dripping from the ceiling. It was all building up to something fantastically scary.

And then the narrator closes his eyes and pretends he didn’t see it to save his own sanity. And... that’s kind of it. The climax was not worth the tension building up to it. But still enjoyed it for the early tension and imagery alone.
Author 4 books118 followers
February 28, 2016
HP Lovecraft's short stories show a masterful skill in setting mood with his dark prose. Unexpectedly, however, Call of C ended up being 'meh' compared to his other stories.
Profile Image for Бранимир Събев.
Author 33 books185 followers
March 17, 2021
"Висшата проява на милосърдие в нашия свят, според мен, представлява неспособността на човешкия разум да свърже в едно цяло всичките му компоненти. Ние живеем на спокойно островче на невежеството, издигащо се сред черния океан на безкрая, и от това следва, че не бива да отплаваме надалеч".

Издадена преди 15 г. книга от отдавна починал автор, преведена от трагично загинал преводач, издадена от вече несъществуващо издателство. Корична цена 10 лв, да се сдобиеш сега с нея само за 50 - късмет. Времена, в които можеш да сложиш за корица на издавана от теб книга албум на Iron Maiden и да ти се размине... Без посочена година на издаване, без коректор, без редакторско каре отзад, указващо кой е художник на учудващо готините илюстрации или брой коли и пр. допълнителна информация - даже няма последна страница, а титулната такава с правата е супер орязана. Отделно - книга, лепена с плюнка.

Книга, сякаш от друга реалност...
Profile Image for Viola.
349 reviews49 followers
November 4, 2021
Vērtējot Lavkrafta stāstus būtu jāņem vērā vairāki faktori - darbi ir sarakstīti teju pirms gadsimta (attiecīga valoda, politiskie uzskati utt.), paša autora mentālais stāvoklis un Lavkrafta daiļrades ietekme uz fantāzijas žanra attīstību. Un tas, man šķiet, ir īstenais Lavkrafta daiļrades bonuss, jā, arī man viņa stāsti liekas piņķerīgi, ar atkārtojušos sižetu utt., tomēr nevar noliegt to iespaidu, ko Lavkrafta idejas ir atstājušas uz atsevišķiem autoriem un žanru kopumā. Galu galā, Lavkrafts viens no pirmajiem pavērsa lasītāju skatu kosmosa virzienā, sapinot kopā senās šausmas ar nākotnes vīzijām. Lavkrafts nav priekš visiem, mans padoms būtu - viņa stāstus nelasīt vienu pēc otra, bet gan ar pauzēm, lai atkārtojumi neliktos tik acīmredzami.
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