Read The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories by H.P. Lovecraft Online


H.P. Lovecraft remade the horror genre in the early twentieth century, discarding ghosts and witches and instead envisaging mankind at the mercy of a chaotic and malevolent universe.This selection of stories ranges from early tales of nightmares and insanity such as 'The Outsider' and 'The Rats in the Walls', through the grotesquely comic 'Herbert West – Reanimator' and 'TH.P. Lovecraft remade the horror genre in the early twentieth century, discarding ghosts and witches and instead envisaging mankind at the mercy of a chaotic and malevolent universe.This selection of stories ranges from early tales of nightmares and insanity such as 'The Outsider' and 'The Rats in the Walls', through the grotesquely comic 'Herbert West – Reanimator' and 'The Hound', to the extra-terrestrial terror of 'The Call of Cthulhu', which fuses traditional supernaturalism with science fiction. Including the definitive corrected texts, this collection reveals the development of Lovecraft's mesmerizing narrative style and establishes him as a hugely influential – and visionary – American writer....

Title : The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories
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ISBN : 9780141187068
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 420 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories Reviews

  • BillKerwin
    2019-04-01 05:03

    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.

  • Josh
    2019-03-31 06:19

    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.

  • Jacob
    2019-04-17 08:07

    October 2011"Pfft, whatever. You're not so scary, Mr. Lovecraft. You're quaint and silly, is all. It's not like...wait. Wait. What? What's this? This is--it's--oh. Oh, god. Oh, dear god, no. No. NOOAAAAUUUUGGGGGHHHHHH--"I live in a somewhat-old farmhouse in rural Wisconsin, and it's a great place to read Lovecraft now that we've taken care of the bat problem. Couldn't do anything about the coyotes out in the fields, but that was part of the charm. It's been a few months since I read this collection, but I still think about it from time to time. A few nights ago, while trying to fall asleep, my mind wandered a bit to the story "The Rats in the Walls," specifically the part where they open the vault and discover the tunnel--dug from beneath--and I felt the same chill I got when I first read it.And then I heard the scratching, coming from the walls. The mice are coming back.It’s going to be a long winter.

  • Keith
    2019-04-03 01:09

    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 guy was a nancy-boy living in his mother's house one hundred years ago, 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.

  • Scott
    2019-03-28 07:59

    "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.

  • Shivam Chaturvedi
    2019-03-22 03:17

    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

  • Keely
    2019-04-11 01:14

    "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.RECOMMENDED: 8/10DO READ MY REVIEWS AT:

  • Anthony Vacca
    2019-04-16 02:09

    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.

  • Dan Henk
    2019-04-06 05:09

    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.

  • Juushika
    2019-04-21 04:01

    As one of the three Penguin Classic Lovecraft anthologies, The Call of Cthulhu collects the stories that lead up to and include the Cthulhu Mythos, arranged in chronological order with introduction and explanatory notes for each story from the anthologizer, S.T. Joshi. Joshi does an exceptional job selecting stories that create a coherent narrative through Lovecraft's early work, developing themes, and final strong stories; his annotations are interesting and useful both to the casual and studious reader. Lovecraft's writing itself is also exceptional: in this wide selection of short stories, he explores issues of miscegenation, scientific exploration, and the discoveries of the great beyond--from the reaches out outer space to the depths of the sea, wherein ancient inhuman forces lurk, threatening those that come too close to the truth. Skill and quality differs from story to story but is universally high, and Lovecraft's tones are delightfully dark and threatening, occasionally humorous, and always otherworldy. This collection is greatly enjoyable and I highly recommend it.The Penguin Classics anthologies divide Lovecraft's work into three collections, all edited by S.T. Joshi, all collecting short stories that address central themes in Lovecraft's work. Obviously, this compilation focuses on the Cthulhu Mythos, beginning with Dagon and moving through stories of life beyond death (Herbert West--Reanimator), miscregation (The Shadow over Innsmouth), life from space (The Whisperer in the Dark), and life from the depths (The Call of Cthulhu). The collection is complete, with a clear focus, and indicates an active development of the theme as Lovecraft's writing matures. Joshi's additions are skillful: each story is given an introduction in the notes, mentioning its place in Lovecraft's career, relevant information, and present themes; the annotations (through numbered footnotes) are removed to the end of the text, maintaining the coherency of the printed stories and giving the reader the option of ignoring them altogether. The annotations run a bit overly-detailed and even off topic at times, but on the whole they are both interesting and useful. In short, Joshi's editing is exceptional, making this an accessible anthology as well as a useful resource.More important than Joshi's editing is of course Lovecraft's writing. Lovecraft is a true artist of the horror genre; his work is considered classic for a reason. And perhaps none of it is more famous than the Cthulhu mythos, making this a true classic of the genre and a wonderful read. But my recommendation does not rest on how famous Lovecraft or these stories happen to be; rather, it rests on the fact that the writing is exceptional, enjoyable, and haunting. Some of the tropes become repetitive, and not all of the stories match others in quality or lasting impact, but on the whole this is an impressive collection of consistently high quality. The forces present in Lovecraft's writing are dark and insidious, hidden on the edges and in the crevices of human consciousness; those that seek them out find more than they bargain for--some are killed, some driven to madness or suicide. Lovecraft's stories move accordingly, building up auras of suspense, slowly revealing more ominous information, and often climaxing in names, entities, and fates that are all the more frightening for our own inability to comprehend them, pronounce, or describe them. Lovecraft uses words to introduce concepts that are beyond words, concepts that escape description. His writing is atmospheric, haunting, and skillful, and a true delight to read.I came upon this text as a curious reader that had heard much about Lovecraft but never read his work and did not know where to begin. I was exceptionally pleased with this book, and believe it was an ideal introduction. The combination of Joshi's superb selections and editing and Lovecraft's exceptional writing make this a wonderful starting place, introducing some of Lovecraft's strongest themes, exploring them through his career, and including all number of classic stories. I was impressed with and greatly enjoyed this text, and I highly recommend it.

  • Lou
    2019-03-28 04:01

    The Call of Cthulhu This novella is a work of sinister genius a writing prose so well done. These works of Lovecraft form a Genisis of Horror writing and supernatural which have inspired many writers Stephen King one of many."Octopus, a dragon, and a human caricature, I shall not be unfaithful to the spirit of the thing. A pulpy, tentacled head surmounted a grotesque and scaly body with rudimentary wings;""There were legends of a hidden lake unglimpsed by mortal sight, in which dwelt a huge, formless white polypous thing with luminous eyes; and squatters whispered that bat-winged devils flew up out of caverns in inner earth to worship it at midnight. They said it had been there before d'Iberville, before La Salle, before the Indians, and before even the wholesome beasts and birds of the woods. It was nightmare itself, and to see it was to die. But it made men dream, and so they knew enough to keep away.""Animal fury and orgiastic license here whipped themselves to daemoniac heights by howls and squawking ecstacies that tore and reverberated through those nighted woods like pestilential tempests from the gulfs of hell."

  • Lisa Dee
    2019-04-15 23:56

    Wow, reading through some of the reviews here, I'm astonished to see so much negative criticism. A lot of that criticism seems to focus on Lovecraft's use of arcane language. Should I be worried that I don't find it arcane at all?What Lovecraft does so brilliantly is to attempt to describe a truly alien horror - not like Star Trek aliens who are only men with knobby foreheads, but forces which do not reference the human at all. That's not a easy task, but Lovecraft, along with Blackwood ("The Willows") tries to do the impossible and does it very well, imo. The freaky geometry and almost obscene language of the world of Cthulhu speak of another dimension. Upon retiring, he had had an unprecedented dream of great Cyclopean cities of titan blocks and sky-flung monoliths, all dripping with green ooze and sinister with latent horror. Hieroglyphics had covered the walls and pillars, and from some undetermined point below had come a voice that was not a voice; a chaotic sensation which only fancy could transmute into sound, but which he attempted to render by the almost unpronounceable jumble of letters, “Cthulhu fhtagn”.As you can probably tell, "The Call of Cthulhu" is one of my favourite stories in this collection. My second favourite is "Rats in the Walls". Lovecraft is dated in that he writes in the style of the "gentleman scholars" of the 1930s - men like James and Blackwood and Onions and Benson. Yes, these do seem like highly repressed individuals, but that was probably more common in those days. I find it charming. "Rats" does not contain the same cosmic horror as the other stories, but a more human, ancient one. I've read this story many, many times and there is something so palpably, gelatinously horrifying about the underground city discovered by the protagonist. Lovecraft was a misanthrope and so perhaps it is fellow misanthropes who can most properly appreciate his message and style. He despaired at any attempt at human enlightenment and believed we were a race destined to be crushed by immensities we were incapable of understanding.

  • Daniel Ionson
    2019-04-10 07:56

    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.

  • Tony DiTerlizzi
    2019-04-20 04:02

    I'm never going to Antarctica. Ever.

  • Chris
    2019-04-06 01:58

    As I write this, the hour draws later, every minute, every second casting my life further into the black, frozen abyss of the Past and bringing me one more step closer to the illimitable void that is my inevitable death. I can only pray that the sweet oblivion of sleep is able to scour away the memory of the horrors I have endured, of the horrors that I have perpetrated. And if there is a God, and if He is merciful, he will allow me the privilege of perishing before I wake so that I may not see those horrors in the cold, unflinching light of day....So, yeah, I enjoy reading Lovecraft.Actually, what I realized as I read through these, is that I think I love the idea of Lovecraft more than his actual writings.Don't get me wrong, the man was a genius. He was a master of not only horror, but of the language of horror, and managed to describe things that he himself admitted were indescribable. He took a simple house in the woods and turned it into an abattoir. He created half the architecture of modern horror, and laid the groundwork for everyone who has been fortunate enough to follow in his footsteps.Still.... All I could think was this: when Lovecraft was writing, in the 20s and 30s, he must have scared eight kinds of hell out of his readers. But it was a different age back then. People had never seen Alien or In the Mouth of Madness (do you read Sutter Caine? *grin*) or anything like that. The images and the concepts that Lovecraft presented to them were new and fresh and horrible. For a modern reader, however, raised on Industrial Light and Magic and Pixar, it's not all that difficult to imagine the fungus-aliens of The Whisperer in Darkness or the vast underground ossuary of The Rats in the Walls or even the dread Cthulhu itself.The unimaginable is no longer so, and that is a great disadvantage for modern readers of Lovecraft. I don't think we are able to experience the pants-shitting terror that someone back in the 1930s, living in a little fishing village in New England might have felt when reading The Shadow over Innsmouth for the first time and then having to go out at look at the local fishermen a little more suspiciously.Hell, I can plot sunken R'lyeh on Google Maps (it's right here, if you're interested).So yeah, I think I love the idea of Lovecraft. The philosophy behind his stories and his mythos, his brilliant use of words and his ability to see the incipient horror in the simples of things. But he didn't scare me. Pity.

  • Kristina
    2019-04-10 07:16

    You may not know it, but the writings of H.P. Lovecraft influenced much of the modern horror and science fiction you enjoy today. In fact, the other day I read a New Yorker review of Netflix’s series Stranger Things (if you have Netflix, or have a friend with Netflix, watch this show. It’s so freaking good) and what author was mentioned as having influenced Stranger Things? Why, H.P. Lovecraft, of course; specifically his story “The Colour Out of Space.” I read The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories cover to cover. I’ve decided that I’d prefer reading a critical analysis of his stories rather than reading any more of his stories. I find Lovecraft’s theories fascinating, but was rather so-so on how he applied those theories to his fiction.I bought the Penguin Classics Deluxe edition and I’m pleased I did. Along with the very cool artwork and attractive look and feel of the book, the editor (S.T. Joshi) is extremely knowledgeable about Lovecraft and thorough in his introduction and story notes. When I read books that have notes, I usually very faithfully flip to the back of the book to read these notes, assuming they will assist me in my understanding and enjoyment of what I’m reading. Joshi’s notes are many and frankly, they are mostly for the most fanatic of Lovecraft fans. After flipping back and forth several times for one ten-paged story just learn things like: “this address is where his aunt used to live” and “Lovecraft loved cats,” I began ignoring the notes unless I came across something extremely puzzling. Also to be avoided are the explanatory introductions to each story before the notes. Sometimes, along with telling the reader when Lovecraft wrote this particular story and how the idea came to him and where it eventually was published, Joshi gave away the endings of the stories. No spoiler warnings at all! So, read those introductions after you read the story. Not that it’s often a surprise at how many (most) of these stories end, but still. I’d rather not have it spoiled by the editor.In the introduction, Joshi quotes Lovecraft at length regarding his theories about fiction. The supernatural, Lovecraft believes, should be super natural, outside the laws of human knowledge and Earthly life: “To achieve the essence of real externality, whether of time or space or dimension, one must forget that such things as organic life, good and evil, love and hate, and all such local attributes of a negligible and temporary race called mankind, have any existence at all” (xviii). Aliens should be alien, and not hold the same values as humans nor care about humans. I’ve had my own thoughts on this, mostly from viewing sci-fi shows in which the “aliens” are very human and have similar values as humans (love, kindness, the importance of life, etc.). Why are they so human? I would often wonder and I usually decided, well, the writers are human and it’s difficult to create creatures who are entirely different from our selves. Of all the sci-fi I’ve ever read and viewed, only the Daleks and Cybermen of Doctor Who seem to have the true “alien” quality that Lovecraft prefers. Also, in Ann Leckie’s Ancillary trilogy, the alien race, the Presger, are nothing like humans and aren’t even sure if humans are a Significant species. So, I really like this idea and Lovecraft’s other thoughts on fiction (as discussed by Joshi) but I found his stories lacking.Sometimes Lovecraft can go a bit overboard in his descriptions, but I love his writing style. I love his formality. He knows the meanings of the words he uses (gasp!) and I appreciate that. I think too many modern writers (particularly genre writers; sorry, but it’s true) are really very loosey-goosey about word choice and often don’t know what the hell the words actually mean, but they use them anyway (see: Mary Kubica’s utter crapfest The Good Girl). Lovecraft’s description are creepy and a little crazy, and I like them. Here’s the narrator of “Nyarlathotep” describing…well, something: “A sickened, sensitive shadow writhing in hands that are not hands, and whirled blindly past ghastly midnights of rotting creation, corpses of dead worlds with sores that were cities, charnel winds that brush the pallid stars and make them flicker low. Beyond the worlds vague ghosts of monstrous things; half-seen columns of unsanctified temples that rest on nameless rocks beneath space and reach up to dizzy vacua above the spheres of light and darkness” (33). I like that. I like that his aliens are kind of alien, at least in their complete disregard for humanity, but too often they’re described as some kind of fish or, as in the case of “The Whisperer in Darkness,” as funky giant crabs that can fly through space (but are unfortunately lumbering and slow on land). Why was Lovecraft so hostile towards sea life? If the alien creatures were not some kind of bastardized fish or crab, they were so awful as to be indescribable. Having the narrator of your stories babble too frequently that what they are seeing or hearing is so awful as to defy description is a total cop-out by the author. I prefer the space crabs, or not seeing the alien at all and just having the narrator describe the effects of the alien life on the surrounding landscape and people (“The Colour Out of Space”). While the setting may be creepy, I never felt the stories were scary. I don’t know if this is because I’m a modern reader and it takes a lot to freak me out, much more than Lovecraft’s weird fish people, or if the stories just aren’t all that scary anyway. But they aren’t scary. Mostly I felt the stories were predictable and sometimes silly. As a man writing in the late 19th to early 20th century, Lovecraft was a reflection of his culture. That is, apparently, a very bigoted culture that considered anyone not of white European descent to be ape-ish, a half-breed, a simpleton and crude. Lovecraft also has issues with country folk as they are often described as “rustic” in a sneering manner which equivocates “rustic” with superstitious, stupid and uncivilized. “The Call of Cthulhu,” a story I looked forward to reading, is incredibly racist. All the “bad” people (who worship Cthulhu) are of a “very low, mixed-blooded, and mentally aberrant type” (153). I didn’t care for this story; it’s boring, silly, and not very interesting. Of the stories in this collection, I primarily enjoyed the longer ones: “The Whisperer in Darkness,” and “The Shadow Over Innsmouth.” The first story of the book, “Dagon,” is also one I enjoyed. It has a certain fuzzy, nightmare-ish aura to it that I liked. The narrator’s surroundings seem to be genuinely alien, even though he is (to his knowledge) still on Earth. This collection was my first foray into Lovecraft and possibly it will be my last. I was distinctly underwhelmed by the stories as a whole. They are too racist and too formulaic for my enjoyment. However, I’m glad I read them as they satisfied my intellectual curiosity about H.P. Lovecraft.

  • Michelle Curie
    2019-04-08 07:18

    "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.

  • Caro M.
    2019-04-06 06:05

    While I thoroughly enjoyed these scary tales Lovecraft built on the foundation of his own nightmares and neuroses, I couldn’t not notice and not get seriously annoyed with obvious racism, xenophobia and misogyny of his views. It puts his works on a bit lower level among other classics of horror than they could be to me. And 'tis a great pity, because these are extremely powerful and fascinating visions and ideas, fathering too many works of literature and cinema to this day and I am sure future ones as well.

  • Fables&Wren
    2019-04-17 06:24

    WrensReads Review: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. WrensReads | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram---October reads of horror!

  • Cat(cat-thecatlady)
    2019-03-22 23:59

    as a big old timey horror fan, I can appreciate the new things Lovecraft brought to the table. and they're great. the prose-poetry writing is beautiful, the stories are scary and the backstories of the monsters are amazing.but it's 2016 and I can't ignore the racism... and it's too much and literally towards everyone that isn't white... I couldn't tune that, as much as I loved some of the spooky stuff, I can't really appreciate them as much as I want tofull review here:

  • Anna
    2019-04-13 04:06

    Говард Лавкрафт - открытие месяца (дальнейшие чтения покажут, может и года). Вот честно, я довольна предвзято отношусь к жанру "ужасов", ибо кажется, что ничем особым они не отличаются от Кинга или детских подостковых ужастиков. Зря я так думала.Совершенно неожиданно, без предупреждения, мне принесли маленькую книжечку в мягкой обложке уже названного автора. И возвращаясь домой (а ехать долго), решилась хотя бы одну повесть попробовать на вкус. В итоге, подъезжая к дому, дочитывала "Зов Ктулху", судорожно сжимая края обожки в руках и усиленно хмуря брови. Вот уж не думала, что так может зацепить подобная история. В этот же вечер книга была прочитана.Лавкрафт очень напомнил мне Герберта Уэллса. Есть у них схожая способность создать атмосферу реально происходящих событий. "Война миров" в свое время поразила меня, выдуманная история воспринималась как адекватная и реальная возможность, несмотря на то, что разум понимал абсурдность ситуации. Труднопередаваемое чувство, которое автор историй о Ктулху заставил меня вспомнить. Под конец "Хребтов безумия" я окончательно поверила Лавкрафту и наивно не сомневалась в существовании того же "Некрономикона". Стало открытием, что практически вся мифология и литературные источники, упоминающиеся во всех повестях, придуманы и продуманы самим автором.Подводя итог знакомству с новым автором, могу точно сказать, что Лавкрафт удивил, поразил и напугал.

  • Adam
    2019-04-17 00:14

    While it's not a full collection of all of Lovecraft's best work, this book does provide a career-spanning survey of this master of horror. The footnotes and commentary provide considerable context-- bordering on too much for the casual reader, but valuable for the more scholarly approach. For instance, reading on my own, I would not have recognized the shift in Lovecraft's early writing, where the weird elements are unexplained and pre-pre-historic, to the later stories where they arrive from outer space. Joshi's notes brought this to light.Look, Lovecraft's writing itself is an acquired taste, and has its flaws. He has a wide vocabulary that he loves to deploy at every moment. His dialogue is terrible and elliptical. He has several fall-back plot twists that can become predictable when reading one of his stories after another. But much like Poe (whose prose also has weaknesses), the joy/terror of reading Lovecraft is in following his warped imagination, in plumbing the depths of horrors the human mind can't comprehend. You read Lovecraft for effect, not for technical wizardry. If for no other reason, he must be read as a key American horror writer, a direct link in the lineage between Poe and King.

  • Eric
    2019-04-17 06:01

    This review is solely on 'The Call of Cthulu', the only story I've read in the collection so far.When I saw the South Park Coon and Friends trilogy last year, which heavily featured Cthulu, I knew it was time for me to read the source material behind this cultural phenomenon. I was first shocked that H.P. Lovecraft's masterwork, which has made him such a legend, was so short. And considering it was from 1928, it didn't seem very dated, which was also a surprise. The story is presented as a manuscript of a man who discovered his granduncle George Gammell Angell's notes. The first part of the story is the notes Angell has collected on an artist, Henry Anthony Wilcox, and the second part the notes on a police inspector, John Raymond Legrasse -- both of which had strange, though unrelated, experiences relating to Cthulu. The third part is the narrator's travels to try to better understand Angell's research, taking him around the world to a Norwegian sailor, Gustaf Johansen, for closure. Due to this fragmented storytelling technique, it was a little harder to follow than a straightforward, linear story, but this did not detract from my interest or the tale's suspense.

  • Brad Hodson
    2019-03-27 02:55

    Any horror fan worth his salt should read Lovecraft. "The Call of Cthulhu" is a cornerstone of weird fiction and cosmic horror alike. However, if you're only a casual horror fan, I'd skip Lovecraft. While his ideas were groundbreaking and the horrors presented in his fiction will truly give you nightmares, Lovecraft was not a great writer. His stories are stilted and repetitive, his dialogue is weak and unnatural, and his characters are two-dimensional products of the xenophobia he was renowned for. That being said, one doesn't read Lovecraft for artful prose, but rather for the ideas explored. "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" has remained a perennial favorite despite its drawbacks, as have so many other works by Lovecraft.Again, though, for the casual reader curious about the Lovecraftian Mythos, I'd suggest picking up other writers, like Ramsay Campbell or Robert Bloch, who dabble in the Mythos. If they grab you and you want to delve further (always a dangerous proposition when dealing with the Elder Gods), then I'd move into Lovecraft proper.

  • Jamie
    2019-03-30 03:01

    The worst.Purple prose. Necronomicon. OMG there's is something weird and I don't know what it is but I'm going to write a letter and then die/go insane.Repeat ad infinitum.Maybe if I were a high school kid with an unlimited supply of weed. But I doubt it.

  • Andy
    2019-04-17 00:59

    I picked this up after enjoying Mountains of Madness and feeling there was an H.P shaped hole in my shelves. Hmmm. Maybe not.I enjoyed aspects of the stories collected but it's a pretty long slog if read without a break. I started last year, put it aside for almost as long and recently finished it so I can put it to bed.He certainly has vision, the sheer imagination and depth of his colliding worlds and creatures, the cultures and civilisations, the depictions; it's impressive and unlike most others of the time. Oh the dread, the horror. The overwriting, more to the point. Everything is told in such convoluted, repetitive and slow fashion as to frustrate, especially in the longer stories. There's not much in the way of suspense, purely as it takes so long to get to the denouement or reveal (which was all too frequently quite obvious). He does create a sense of claustrophobia in this fashion though, which works well but doesn't always make for enjoyable reading. Ultimately, they all feel a little too similar.The Colour out of Space was probably the most accomplished and I did enjoy that tale. I had thought to get all 3 books for the complete collection but I'm not so sure now. Maybe dipping in and out would work better.

  • KatHooper
    2019-04-12 04:20

    "In his house at R'lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming."Ask any writer of horror, fantasy, or weird fiction who their influences were and H.P. Lovecraft’s name is almost sure to come up, especially if they’re over the age of 50. For this reason alone, all true fans of these genres must experience H.P. Lovecraft’s work for themselves. Think of it as “required reading.” Even if you don’t read horror or weird tales, Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos pops up regularly in fantasy literature, games, television, music, and art, so it’s a good idea to get a little of it under your belt.If you want to get a good quick culturally-relevant dose of Lovecraft, I recommend The Call of Cthulhu and Other Stories which is available in several editions. I listened to Naxos AudioBooks’ version read by William Roberts, which I downloaded... Read More:

  • [Name Redacted]
    2019-03-29 01:07

    Highlights:Dagon (1919) (Brief, but glorious!)Nyarlathotep (1920) (A wonderful poem, playing with Egyptian themes)The Picture in the House (1924)The Outsider (1921)The Rats in the Walls (1924)The Colour Out of Space (1927)The Whisperer in Darkness (1931)The Shadow over Innsmouth (1936) (My all time favorite!)The Haunter of the Dark (1936)

  • Sarah Zitwer
    2019-03-29 08:13

    Wildly uplifting. Inspirational. Feel-good story of the year

  • Rachel Stevenson
    2019-04-21 08:17

    Lovecraft was both ancient and modern, ahead of his time with his sci-fi horror stories in an era before SF had really begin, yet old-fashioned in his style, which ignored all of the new forms of the interwar years, and kept a heavy Victorian feel to it, insisting on telling not showing. This is the first paragraph of The Call of Cthulhu:"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 infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. 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."This passage takes 107 words to say: “There's some dark shit out there.” I imagine that this dense prose style might have put off nascent sci-fi fans, whereas the non-realist subject matter might have seemed trivial to literary readers.Lovecraftians would probably deny the sci-fi elements and say that his work is horror (although aliens from another planet – newly discovered Pluto is suggested as their home planet – is definitely science fiction). Indeed, all of his work is set in New England, home of witches, folkore, ancient cruelty. Outside of the deep South it must be the most fertile breeding ground for evil, unseen things (c.f. Shirley Jackson, Poe). Whereas most (good) horror is analogous, often riffing off of the holocaust or other atrocities, the horror of Lovecraft's work seems to be that darkest fears, night terrors and so on are actually real. The dark, hidden things, the monster under the bed, the hag sitting on your chest, kelpies, selkies – all those creatures that you rationally tell yourself can't be true – are. There are two pertinent facts in the biographical notes in this book. The first is that Lovecraft's stories were never collected in his lifetime, the other is that his father had a psychotic nervous breakdown and his mother was hospitalised in a mental asylum. Having two parents gone mad must have been a pressing concern for him.There is a lot in Lovecraft's work that is unpleasant to modern eyes, not just the horror, but the idea that evil is worshipped by “lower” races. Cthulhu is a god to the “mongrels” of Louisiana and “half breeds” of New Zealand. The Indians (Amerindians) also seem to worship the old ones, and if Lovecraft hadn't shown himself to be a big ol' white supremacist, I'd think the oozing, crawling things were a metaphor for the wreckage that the Europeans had caused the native population, that the worship of dark things was a critique of the white people's fear of the other, of the non-Christian world. Maybe it was subconscious.Even though these individual stories were never published together, Lovecraft builds his world. Everything starts with the never-seen mad Arab Abdul Alhazred and his Necronomicon, the black magicks book, and each story is set in the Miskatonic valley, near the city of Arkham, MA, where the protags are often professors at the university.Like all writers who die young, it would have been interesting to see how Lovecraft would have evolved, reacted to the horrors of WW2 and the rise of post-war sci-fi (surely the Kraken and Godzilla were influenced by Cthulhu) and technology. Lovecraft used the recently discovered E=MC2, which spoke of other dimensions, in his fearful geometry, of shapes and angles that don't exist in our world. This could also feed into the later idea of the uncanny valley, things that don't look quite right and cause unease.