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The Call of Cthulhu
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Short Story/Novella Collection > The Call of Cthulhu - October 2017

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message 1: by Bob, Short Story Classics (new) - rated it 2 stars

Bob | 4959 comments Mod
Our October 2017 Short Story Read is The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft, published in 1919, 43 pages or less


Rosemarie | 1574 comments I read this story a month ago and was impressed by the atmosphere the author created.


Kayla (kaylavano) This was my first H.P. Lovecraft read. I loved it. I was hooked at:

"The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto
harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of
dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of
reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either
go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace
and safety of a new dark age."


message 4: by Katy, New School Classics (new) - added it

Katy (kathy_h) | 9558 comments Mod
Kayla wrote: "This was my first H.P. Lovecraft read. I loved it. I was hooked at: ..."

Oh that is good!

I have this collection: The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories by H.P. Lovecraft and will read the story from it.


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

I started reading this before going to bed, which probably isn't a brilliant idea on my part. :)

I can totally see why some current & former coworkers read Lovecraft.

Agree with Kayla that opening paragraph was a snatcher for me as well.


Rosemarie | 1574 comments This is not a good bed-time story. I found it fascinating.


message 7: by Loretta (last edited Oct 01, 2017 05:58PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Loretta | 2668 comments It bored me to sleep, so I'd say, go for it! 😜


Emily Dybdahl | 147 comments Loretta, I found it boring too. Maybe I should have read it at night to make it scarier. ...but I don't think it would've worked anyway. ..


Loretta | 2668 comments Emily wrote: "Loretta, I found it boring too. Maybe I should have read it at night to make it scarier. ...but I don't think it would've worked anyway. .."

😜😀😏


message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

Loretta wrote: "It bored me to sleep, so I'd say, go for it! 😜"

I can totally see why. Very academic in tone. Even mentioning actual anthropological works that I recognize. Not exactly scary stuff imho just interesting in an anthropological perspective, especially since that is what my degree is in.


Rosemarie | 1574 comments I am glad it wasn't scary, since I am not a big fan of horror. I am used to reading wordy books, so that didn't bother me. However, he pales in comparison to Edgar Allen Poe, who writes so well.
I said earlier it was fascinating because I found the way the narrator put the pieces of the puzzle together interesting. And Chthulu itself was a creepy being.


message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

Question for any Lovecraftians here:

Is this pretty much indicative of his writing style? I was thinking of reading At the Mountains of Madness but I'm realizing I can only handle this much tediousness (because of an academic tone "The Call of Cthulhu" is a tedious read) in short doses (i.e. short stories). So now it's a decision of crossing Lovecraft off my bucket list of authors to read (if/when I have one) or continue on with the above title.


message 13: by Wreade1872 (last edited Oct 02, 2017 06:53AM) (new)

Wreade1872 | 850 comments Pam wrote: "Question for any Lovecraftians here:

Is this pretty much indicative of his writing style? I was thinking of reading At the Mountains of Madness but I'm realizing I can only handle thi..."


I'm a big Lovecraft fan but i fairly disliked Call of Cthulhu the fist time i read it. I think it was because its mostly past events, i kept waiting for it to get back to the present so we could get to the real action and then it was over... totally wrong expectations so i blame myself rather than Lovecraft.

Mountains of Madness is quite long for a short story, perhaps try the The Colour Out of Space, a personal favourite of mine.

I think Lovecraft vastly superior to Poe by the way.


Loretta | 2668 comments Wreade1872 wrote: "Pam wrote: "Question for any Lovecraftians here:

Is this pretty much indicative of his writing style? I was thinking of reading At the Mountains of Madness but I'm realizing I can onl..."


No way. In my opinion, Poe is far more superior and I'm sure I'm not alone. 😊


message 15: by Wreade1872 (new)

Wreade1872 | 850 comments Loretta wrote: "No way. In my opinion, Poe is far more superior and I'm sure I'm not alone. 😊 ..."

Oh i'm very aware that is the prevailing opinion ;) . I'm just not sure why :) . Lovecraft was an expert on architecture and probably a few other areas, which enabled him to create very detailed and rich descriptions in his stories.
He also went for the existential horror and weirdness as opposed to the visceral and generally mundane horror of Poe.
His writing whether you like it or not at least tends to feel unique.

I couldn't pick Poe's writing out from any of his contemporaries. I think the best of his tales i've read was 'Masque of the Red Death', one of the few with a decent atmosphere about it.


message 16: by Sue (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sue K H (sky_bluez) | 3219 comments Wreade1872 wrote: "Loretta wrote: "No way. In my opinion, Poe is far more superior and I'm sure I'm not alone. 😊 ..."

Oh i'm very aware that is the prevailing opinion ;) . I'm just not sure why :) . Lovecraft was an..."


Both of these authors write stories that are out of my wheelhouse of interest but I end up enjoying them both. I gave this story 3 stars (as I have some of Poe's). I really admire both of their writing and expect I'll end up giving 5 stars to at least one story of each. I've given 4 to a couple of Poe's ones but I've only read 2 Lovecraft and both were 3 stars.


message 17: by Sue (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sue K H (sky_bluez) | 3219 comments Pam wrote: "Loretta wrote: "It bored me to sleep, so I'd say, go for it! 😜"

I can totally see why. Very academic in tone. Even mentioning actual anthropological works that I recognize. Not exactly scary stuff..."


I found it interesting from the anthropological perspective as well even though I'm not an anthropologist. What I didn't care for was the supernatural aspect.


Rosemarie | 1574 comments Sue, like you, this genre has not been high on my to-read list. I have only recently started reading these types of stories because I didn't realize that horror stories didn't have to be gory. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Poe's stories. I have always been a fan of his poetry, and it is only thanks to goodreads that I ventured to read his stories.
I am definitely going to read more Lovecraft as well.

As a point of trivia, both The Call of Chthulu and At the Mountains of Madness were bestsellers when they were first published.


message 19: by Wreade1872 (new)

Wreade1872 | 850 comments Rosemarie wrote: "I didn't realize that horror stories didn't have to be gory... As a point of trivia, both The Call of Chthulu and At the Mountains of Madness were bestsellers when they were first published."

If i'm ever recommending Lovecraft to someone i always tell them he writes Weird fiction, i think thats a better decriptor than Horror.

How could his stories be bestsellers, they're short? Also he sold them to crappy pulp magazines.

I just found Lovecrafts own review of 'Call of Cthulhu', he was notoriously critical of his own work.
"rather middling—not as bad as the worst, but full of cheap and cumbrous touches".


message 20: by Sue (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sue K H (sky_bluez) | 3219 comments Rosemarie wrote: "Sue, like you, this genre has not been high on my to-read list. I have only recently started reading these types of stories because I didn't realize that horror stories didn't have to be gory. I wa..."

same here! This group in particular has broadened my horizons.


message 21: by Sue (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sue K H (sky_bluez) | 3219 comments Wreade1872 wrote: "Rosemarie wrote: "I didn't realize that horror stories didn't have to be gory... As a point of trivia, both The Call of Chthulu and At the Mountains of Madness were bestsellers when they were first..."

Interesting


message 22: by Pink (new) - rated it 2 stars

Pink | 6554 comments I read this last month and wasn't a fan. In fact I'd completely forgotten everything about it, until I reminded myself by reading some reviews. I'm not a fan of Poe either, they're just not my sort of stories.

It reminded me quite a bit of The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen. Has anyone else read them both and thought the same thing?


Emily Dybdahl | 147 comments Wreade1872 wrote: "Rosemarie wrote: "I didn't realize that horror stories didn't have to be gory... As a point of trivia, both The Call of Chthulu and At the Mountains of Madness were bestsellers when they were first..."

Interesting because imo I didn't even compare Lovecraft to Poe-I compared him more to H.G. Wells who writes similar sci-fi/horror stories. I like a lot of Wells' stories better than the 2 Lovecraft stories I've read but I'm willing to give Lovecraft more chances to hopefully hit upon one I really like.


message 24: by Bob, Short Story Classics (new) - rated it 2 stars

Bob | 4959 comments Mod
I’m more in line with Sue. Neither of these authors is in my “wheelhouse” and if not for the group I would never have read Lovecraft. That said, prior to joining the group only two or three Poe stories come to mind. Personally I find both authors difficult reading, perhaps that’s why I don’t seek stories and books written by them. Having read considerably more Poe than Lovecraft it would be unjust for me to offer an opinion on which author is better.

Pink wrote: "I read this last month and wasn't a fan. In fact I'd completely forgotten everything about it, until I reminded myself by reading some reviews. I'm not a fan of Poe either, they're just not my sort..."

I have read both Cthulhu and Pan. Pan was read weeks prior to reading Cthulhu and I remember Pan much better than Cthulhu. Again for me it's the difference in writing style. Pan, for me was a much smoother read than Cthulhu and that has to be the difference in my memorability of both. Since you mention it I do see that these stories were similar in the method used in uncovering the mystery.

Emily wrote: "Wreade1872 wrote: "Rosemarie wrote: "Interesting because imo I didn't even compare Lovecraft to Poe-I compared him more to H.G. Wells who writes similar sci-fi/horror stories..."

My comparison of Poe and Lovecraft in in response to the above posts. But I do find there writing styles to be overly complex and their language to be exceedingly longwinded. Which is why I avoid both authors unless they become group reads. I personally see no similarities between H.G. Wells and either Poe or Lovecraft.


Emily Dybdahl | 147 comments Bob wrote: "I’m more in line with Sue. Neither of these authors is in my “wheelhouse” and if not for the group I would never have read Lovecraft. That said, prior to joining the group only two or three Poe sto..."

Sounds like I'll have to nominate a Wells short story one of these months! :)


message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

Wreade1872 wrote: "If i'm ever recommending Lovecraft to someone i always tell them he writes Weird fiction, i think thats a better decriptor than Horror."

I would have to agree. At the bookstore where I work, we have no dedicated horror section. We shelve Lovecraft in SciFi/Fantasy. Something like Stephen King goes into fiction. Don't ask me why we make this distinction. It is more fantastical than actual horror.


message 27: by Bob, Short Story Classics (new) - rated it 2 stars

Bob | 4959 comments Mod
Emily wrote: "Bob wrote: "Sounds like I'll have to nominate a Wells short story one of these months! :) ..."

Nominations are open now.


message 28: by [deleted user] (new)

Pink wrote: "It reminded me quite a bit of The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen. Has anyone else read them both and thought the same thing? "

Lovecraft did give a nod to Machen in the story, re: the sculptor creating other works inspired by Machen's stories, etc. I think it was somewhere in part 3.


message 29: by Wreade1872 (last edited Oct 02, 2017 12:23PM) (new)

Wreade1872 | 850 comments There's a free Dr.Seuss version of Call of Cthulhu here :D .
The link to the next image is below the picture and to the left. A little awkward to navigate but fun stuff.
The most merciful thing in the world is, I think,
That the mind is unable to connect and link
all the disparate pieces of things that we know
and thus learn of the horrors that lurk down below.


There's also three very funny parody films of Lovecraft stories here.
Ordeal of Randolph Carter based on The Statement of Randolph Carter.
From Beyond the Beyond based on From Beyond and Pickman's Guest based on Pickman's Model.
They're still funny even if you havn't read the originals though :) .

Also all the episodes of the H.P.Lovecraft Literary Podcast, which cover lovecrafts work are free and available here or on itunes. They also have one free show a month, after they moved on from Lovecraft to other weird fiction authors.
Their website can be a little tricky to navigate so here's their Cthulhu episodes:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Full audio reading mp3.


message 30: by Suki (new) - rated it 5 stars

Suki St Charles (goodreadscomsuki_stcharles) | 76 comments I guess I'm in the minority here, but I really enjoyed rereading Call of Cthulhu. I like all of Lovecraft's works-- I guess it's that creeping sense of dread thing. I'm also a big fan of Poe, Machen, Hodgson, Clark Ashton Smith, and all the other pulp "Golden Age" weird fiction writers.


Calvin Tower (calvintower) | 4 comments Pam wrote: "Question for any Lovecraftians here:

Is this pretty much indicative of his writing style? I was thinking of reading At the Mountains of Madness but I'm realizing I can only handle thi..."


I have read most of his works, and I found this one too be much more drawn out and academic than most. As a general rule I found his shorter ones to be an easier read. I love his imagery and ability to leverage the fear of the unknown without telling on gore, however many of his longer works have a large sections of dry content.


Sarah | 587 comments This was my second Lovecraft (At the Mountains of Madness having been my first).
So far I'm just not understanding the fascination with him.

This was weird, but not particularly creepy or scary or whatever.
It was ok, but nothing spectacular.

I picked up the Necronomicon on Audible awhile back so I listened to this. Maybe I would have liked it more if I read it myself. I do remember that part of my problem with At the Mountains of Madness was the dry, monotone narrator.


message 33: by Bob, Short Story Classics (new) - rated it 2 stars

Bob | 4959 comments Mod
Sarah wrote: "I picked up the Necronomicon on Audible awhile back so I listened to this. Maybe I would have liked it more if I read it myself. I do remember that part of my problem with At the Mountains of Madness was the dry, monotone narrator. ..."

I read Mountains and I was the dry, monotone narrator. I just don't remember any snap to the story.


message 34: by Pink (new) - rated it 2 stars

Pink | 6554 comments Pam wrote: "Pink wrote: "It reminded me quite a bit of The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen. Has anyone else read them both and thought the same thing? "

Lovecraft did give a nod to Machen in the story, re: the..."


Ah, I didn't notice that. There was definitely a similar feel to both of them. Unfortunately most of it was boredom for me.

Bob, yes they did employ the same storytelling device. Pan is defintely stronger in my memory than this one. Although I'm not a fan of either.


message 35: by Sue (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sue K H (sky_bluez) | 3219 comments Suki wrote: "I guess I'm in the minority here, but I really enjoyed rereading Call of Cthulhu. I like all of Lovecraft's works-- I guess it's that creeping sense of dread thing. I'm also a big fan of Poe, Mache..."

congratulations Suki! I think one of the coolest places to be is in the minority. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would and I'll still try more of his.


message 36: by Leni (last edited Oct 04, 2017 03:12AM) (new)

Leni Iversen (leniverse) | 1231 comments Lovecraft liked Machen's work and gives a nod to him (and to Algernon Blackwood) in a few stories. He borrowed freely from others, but also encouraged others to borrow from him. In a letter to August Derleth he wrote that the more Cthulhu and Yog-Sothoth "are mutually written up by different authors, the better they become as general background material! I like to have others use my Azathoths & Nyarlathoteps - & in return I shal use Klarkash-Ton's Tsathoggua, your monk Clithanus, & Howard's Bran."

But his main influences were Poe and Dunsany, to the point where Lovecraft in 1929 despaired that “There are my ‘Poe’ pieces and my ‘Dunsany' pieces — but alas — where are any 'Lovecraft' pieces?”

I find that Lovecraft is at his best where he fuses the lyricism of a Dunsany dreamscape with the gritty despair of Poe. Honestly though, whatever the influences on Lovecraft's style, what he did in contents was a complete break with tradition. Horror would generally be human centric. Humanity vs science, humanity vs supernatural monsters etc. In Lovecraft humanity is insignificant. We can easily get squashed. We are so limited that if the universe takes notice of us, we wither and gibber under its regard. His characters are basically staring into the abyss and go mad when the abyss stares back. This is cosmic horror.

There is, for the most part, nothing really supernatural in Lovecraft's stories. He has strange degenerated mutants and uses mass suggestion, dream travel, rhythms, and mad obsession. He postulates space aliens of vastly superior and incomprehensible abilities, that the human mind can only cope with by calling them gods.

Lovecraft is at his worst when he lets his own fear of the unknown lead him into racism and xenophobia. And when he tries to convince the reader that death is somehow terrible in itself. He has a story where Randolph Carter and another character sit in a graveyard and shiver because the trees that grow there are feeding on the dead, and they consider such food to be unwholesome and unnatural. This is a failed attempt at emulating Algernon Blackwood. To me there is nothing horrific about returning to nature. Quite the contrary. (Trees seeking you out to kill you so they can feed on you? Sure, that's horrifying. Trees getting nourished by your dead remains? Go for it, tree!) On the other hand, he quite refreshingly critiques his own overuse of the concept of the "unnameable" in the story. (And that's actually the title of the story too.)

At any rate, Lovecraft succeeded in creating "general background material" with his Cthulhu Mythos, the Necronomicon, and the city of Arkham, so whatever your stance on horror, cosmic horror, or Lovecraft's writing style, he should be of interest as a matter of literary history. :)

Sorry, when I get started on Lovecraft I do go on. And I haven't even said anything about the story specifically under discussion yet. :-/


message 37: by Pink (new) - rated it 2 stars

Pink | 6554 comments Leni wrote: "Lovecraft liked Machen's work and gives a nod to him (and to Algernon Blackwood) in a few stories. He borrowed freely from others, but also encouraged others to borrow from him. In a letter to Augu..."

Thanks for this, it's all interesting and new information to me! Almost makes me want to read something else by him...almost! ;)


message 38: by Bob, Short Story Classics (new) - rated it 2 stars

Bob | 4959 comments Mod
Thanks Leni, that was interesting.


message 39: by Danada (new)

Danada Leni wrote: "Sorry, when I get started on Lovecraft I do go on. "

by all means keep going on!

BTW, where are the educational, interesting, like, etc. buttons on goodreads!?

:)


Kathleen | 3939 comments I'd never read Lovecraft, and had no plan to take part in this one, but after reading Leni's post I was so curious! Cosmic horror, the abyss staring back--had to check that out. :-)

Still not sure it's for me, but I really enjoyed the idea of it, even if I wasn't crazy about the writing style. Will definitely try more.


message 41: by Michele (new)

Michele | 1010 comments Kathleen wrote: "I really enjoyed the idea of it, even if I wasn't crazy about the writing style. "

It's purple prose for sure lol! And he does too often fall back on "The horror was indescribable!" rather than, y'know, actually trying to describe the horror. But he's great fun, very atmospheric.


Nente | 780 comments I felt very uneasy about the idea that something is horrible and repulsive, only and precisely because that something is not human but different. Now, I'm not going to harp on tolerance and all that, but I do really think that attitude is the essence of xenophobia. No one in Lovecraft would ever try to talk to the aliens. They aren't human! Oh the horror!


message 43: by Leni (new)

Leni Iversen (leniverse) | 1231 comments Well... off the top of my head I can think of at least one story where his characters talk to the aliens and come to an agreement with them. Of course, it's an "infernal pact of evil" kind of agreement, but if we didn't have a bit of malevolence we'd be in a different genre. I do, however, admit that my love for Lovecraft is a case of "my fave is problematic".


message 44: by Michele (new)

Michele | 1010 comments Nente wrote: "No one in Lovecraft would ever try to talk to the aliens. They aren't human! Oh the horror! "

Well they are ancient demons from the Outer Darkness who want to eat people's souls. Not sure you can really talk to things like that ;)


message 45: by Cindy (new)

Cindy  | 58 comments I like Lovecraft's stories. This one was a little too weird for me.


Nente | 780 comments Sorry Leni & Michele! I'm judging from a very limited experience, I admit, having only read this one and At the Mountains of Madness. But they didn't encourage me to go on for more, though it probably was more the writing style :(
In both I found the aliens to be evidently evil from the very way they look, even before anyone finds out that they are interested in eating up souls.


message 47: by Terris (last edited Oct 09, 2017 01:56PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Terris | 2617 comments My copy of The Call of Cthulhu should be coming in at my library tomorrow. And all of your various comments have me anxious to start reading! I have At the Mountains of Madness on my Kindle. I hope to get to it this month also. These will be my first readings by Lovecraft. I'm kind of excited!


Francisca | 368 comments This was the first Lovecraft I've read, and after reading some of the comments I was half-expecting to be disappointed. I actually really enjoyed it: I liked the idea and especially the structure. Someone mentioned how everything is in the past tense - I kept imagining this a bit like found footage horror movies... and I think we're meant to presume that the author died for knowing too much like his uncle before him?

I'm not sure I'd read much more Lovecraft though... the brief 40-odd pages were the right measure!


message 49: by Michele (new)

Michele | 1010 comments Francisca wrote: "I kept imagining this a bit like found footage horror movies..."

Ooh yes, good analogy.


message 50: by Leni (last edited Oct 10, 2017 04:45AM) (new)

Leni Iversen (leniverse) | 1231 comments "The Music of Erich Zann" is among my favourite Lovecraft stories, so I thought I'd tempt you all with this short film adaptation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFnSO...

I have only a few complaints, such as them calling the nameless narrator Charles Dexter Ward (a different Lovecraft character), and that Erich Zann is playing a violin rather than a viol (cello). Also, the music isn't quite otherwordly enough (and they pointlessly bring in a dancing shadow woman), but for music to lose your mind to we can turn to Alexey Voytenko. He channels Erich Zann in multiple stringed instruments, here on the cello:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRpba...


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