HP Lovecraft

Hello, I was wondering if any other readers on here have read anything written by HP Lovecraft. I've been wanting to read some of his work recently, so far I only know of "The Call of Cthulhu" but I'm not sure if that'd be a good place to start out. I know there is no continuity in the books but I'm not sure if it'd be a good starting place for a first time reader.

Anyone else read from these Mythos that can tell me where would be a good book to start?

I think that his Dream Cycle is much better than his Cthulhu Mythos: the two series are very interconnected, but the former is less concerned with straight horror and more surrealistic.

For the Dream Cycle, perhaps you could start with Celephais - it is a very short story, and, in my opinion, one of his better ones - or with The Silver Key, and then read The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath, which - I think - is the best Lovecraft work, hands down.

As for the Cthulhu Mythos, I recommend Nyarlathotep - it is one of the most iconic stories, and it does a great job establishing the mood - and then perhaps The Color Out of Space.

Hope this helps!

Thank you, definately will pick one of those out next time I go to my local library.

Hint: the links I gave lead to the stories themselves - the copyright for Lovecraft's works has expired, so you can legally read or download them through the 'Net.

Also, all the titles I gave except The Dream Quest are short stories, not novels, so you won't find them as stand-alone books in the library.

Hope this helps!

There is an omnibus of collected Lovecraft stories called The Necronomicon which you can buy off ye olde Amazon. You get the majority of his work, my favourites being The Lurking Fear, The Rats in the Wall and At the Mountains of Madness. If you are a horror aficionado you should have a Lovecraft book on your shelf.

Hint: the links I gave lead to the stories themselves - the copyright for Lovecraft's works has expired, so you can legally read or download them through the 'Net.

Also, all the titles I gave except The Dream Quest are short stories, not novels, so you won't find them as stand-alone books in the library.

Hope this helps

Oh really? :confused: Heh considering how many good reviews I've heard of it I figured they were full length novels surrounding these cosmic beings. That isn't to say I think short stories arer bad, just a lot of people's reviews made it sound like long novel sized stories. Well I'm glad to know all the short stories can be read online; I'll be checking into that soon. :thumbsup:

[quote="PrayerShark, post:5, topic:218113"]
There is an omnibus of collected Lovecraft stories called The Necronomicon which you can buy off ye olde Amazon. You get the majority of his work, my favourites being The Lurking Fear, The Rats in the Wall and At the Mountains of Madness. If you are a horror aficionado you should have a Lovecraft book on your shelf.

[/quote]

I once looked up some reviews of H.P. Lovecraft.
"At the Mountains of Madness" was given a great review.
Well that puzzled me.

I have two Lovecraft books. "At the Mountains of Madness" and "The Shuttered Room".
It took me over 20 years to finally force myself to finish reading "At the Mountains of Madness". I tried at least five times and always gave up -- I found the book really tedious and boring. On the other hand, "The Shuttered Room", a collection of related short stories (or a novel?) has been read three or four times through.

I guess I'm the oddball. :shrug:

At the Mountains of Madness isn't an easy read, and even for Lovecraft it is more verbose than his other works. I agree it can make for tedious reading sometimes, especially if you've just had a mentally exhausting day.

Still, the level of detail he goes to in describing the Antarctic expedition is impressive and I quite enjoyed the sense of foreboding dread he builds the story up to which encompasses the remote location, the finite resources of the explorers and the ignorance of what they really face.

Guillermo del Toro has stated he wants to make a film of it. Hope it goes ahead. If anyone can handle Lovecraft on film it is he.

I LOVE H.P. LOVECRAFT!

The suggestions that people have given you are rather "advanced", IMO. If you are a major sci-fi/horror fan and very experienced in reading this genre, then yes, you will enjoy them. As a young teen, my husband loved "Dream Quest of Unknown Kadeth," and also Lovecraft's poems. As an adult, I still find these pieces difficult to settle down and read. They have a lot of atmosphere, but not enough plot.

Also, there are a couple of ways to approach Lovecraft. Many people take pleasure in getting involved in the whole "Cthulhu Mythos" thing, and devour the entire body of literature. For them, it's like a scary version of Society of Creative Anachronisms," an "alternative world" that they can play around with.

You can certainly do that if you enjoy role-playing and that kind of thing. My husband enjoys Lovecraft in this way.

But another way to approach Lovecraft is to keep the Mythos in the back of your mind, but enjoy the stories as individual tales. Yes, many of Lovecraft's stories are part of the Mythos and contain hints of Cthulhu and the Old Ones and the Deep Ones. But they are still good stories even if you have no clue about the Mythos and all the connections. I personally enjoy reading Lovecraft like this.

Here are my favorites, and I read them several times a year.

  1. The Shadow Over Innsmouth -- this story/short novel has it all! The young hero, the fish people, the isolated small town, the scary mystery cult ("the Esoteric Order of Dagon"--doesn't that sound scary?!), the creepy hotel with shuffling noises, the drunken but over-wise sot, the thrilling chase, the awful revelation, and above all, the super-surprise ending! Get this story and have fun! I've read it a thousand times at least. I love it! I think it's one of the best stories in American literature. I admit that I use the hyperbolic language style in my own fiction writing. My husband and I enjoy picking out people who have "the Innsmouth Look!" And we joke about staying at the "Gilman House." Read it! Love it!

  2. The Dunwich Horror--I like this one because one of the heroes is a senior citizen. Cool.

  3. The Outsider--this one is very sad and highly-underrated. I think teenagers should be required to read it. It says more about being an outsider than many of the popular teen novels say. Very Poe-ish style in this story, quite different than other Lovecraftian tales. Many of Lovecraft's stories seem to be told "with a grin," IMO--he is having fun with with his readers. But The Outsider is sad and soul-filled.

  4. In the Vault--oh, my! This one is sooo much fun!! It's perfect for Halloween, but don't wait until next year to read it. It's the kind of story that kids tell during summer camp or at a slumber party. It's reads like an urban myth. I'm guessing that Lovecraft heard this tale from townies and decided to embellish it into a full-fledged story.

  5. Pickman's Model--this one made it onto Night Gallery in an almost word-for-word re-telling. Great imaginative story, and it will scare you away from subways (not the restaurant) and Boston.

  6. The Thing on the Doorstep--this is one of the creepiest stories that Lovecraft ever wrote. Probably my top favorite and probably the story that scares me the most. It's a morality tale, IMO. This is what can happen to college students who delve into matters best left alone.

  7. The Rats in the Walls--of COURSE I like this story. The hero is a cat! Any story involving "eating" is bound to be good. What the protagoinist eats will be yours to find out when you read the story.

  8. The Colour Out of Space--this is a science-fiction story that was years ahead of its time. You might not want to drink tap water after reading this one (bwoo ha ha!). Extremely well-written. IMO, this one starts simply enough and then builds and builds and it's still building, IMO. Disturbing. It could happen. Maybe it has happened.

A lot of Lovecraftian stories have been made into movies, but IMO, none of them capture the stories. I would LOVE to see someone do Lovecraft's stories for television exactly as they are written. Do you remember the Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes stories that were done by British television back in the 1980s? These were, for the most part, word for word out of the canon by Doyle. I would love to have that kind of re-telling of Lovecraft's stories, including the hyperbole.

The biggest criticism of Lovecraft's stories that I have seen is that they are silly. I don't agree. I think they're fun, definitely. But not silly.

I hope these suggestions are useful to you.

I see.
Different expectations and points of view.
For me the level of detail was irrelevant and distracted from the story line. A lot of the time the only way I knew that something was foreboding with dread was because the author said so. But that’s just me. I’m glad that other’s can enjoy this work. (Likewise, I have no appreciation of art, but I’m glad that other’s do.)

I can probably chalk up my enjoyment of Mountains to my vivid imagination. I also enjoy stories where you have exploration teams visiting remote, alien landscapes/continents/planets. Oh well, each to their own.

I've just read though that Guillermo del Toro will indeed be directing a movie of Mountains and James Cameron is producer (for good or worse).

Haha, I've also started picking out people with 'Innsmouth Look', especially my neighbour. :p

For those of you who have a decent PC or Mac, there is a game that has just come out called Amnesia: The Dark Descent. It's a first-person adventure game that borrows on the Lovecraft lore. You play a fellow who has lost his memory and you must recover notes left by yourself throughout a castle to determine what has happened, while at the same time you have some nameless horror stalking you. You get no weapons and all you can do is hide. I've played the demo, with the lights off and my headphones on and it scared the $h!t out of me. I haven't experienced anything like it since playing the Shalebridge Cradle in Thief 3. Tis $20 on Steam; you can't go wrong.

I personally enjoy "The Outsider" (GREAT twist ending) and both "The Colour Out Of Space" and "Dagon."

Ironically for our Catholic sensibilities, Lovecraft was an Atheist, a Racist and Anti-Semite. He also was full of contradictions, like the fact that he was briefly married to a Jew. :o

"The Call Of Ctulthu" and "The Rats In The Walls" are awesome stories as well. :thumbsup:

Wow, an H.P. Lovecraft thread, and it's current! :D

All the recommendations are good so far, but I'm surprised no one has mentioned "The Shadow Out of Time". It's similar to "At the Mountains of Madness" in that it involves a detailed account of the exploration of ancient, buried ruins, but it's shorter. I just recently read "Whisperer in Darkness", which I enjoyed quite a bit as well.

"Dream-Quest" is very enjoyable, and a bit different from his other works. An interesting point to note is that the creature from the movie "Alien" is essentially a carnivorous, wingless Nightgaunt from "Dream-Quest".:thumbsup:

My all-time favorite story, however, is "At the Mountains of Madness". I swear I actually feel the chill of the Antarctic every time I read that story, and I half expect to see my breath hang in the air.

Another interesting note, H.P. Lovecraft's "The Horror at Red Hook" contains the only reference to Chaldean Catholics I've seen in a work of fiction, though their church is just a front for wicked things. :p

Peace and God bless!

Oh, and one final recommendation:

“The Call of Cthulhu” silent film. (trailer’s at the website).

Brilliant “word for word” (as far as silent films go) adaptation of the short story. The same folks are currently working of “The Whisperer in Darkness”. If it’s half as good and faithful to the source as “Call of Cthulhu”, it’s gonna be brilliant. :thumbsup:

Peace and God bless!

I have enjoyed HPL since early adolescence. I presume his fans here know something of his autobiography, but for those who don't - be warned, HPL was a staunch atheist and materialist who openly declared war on religion. His fantasy-horror literature was based on his philosophy of "Cosmicism", which emphasised humankind's utter insignificance in an eternal, indifferent universe. For data on HPL's atheism, the works by his chief biographer, S.T. Joshi are pertinent and eye-opening. Not trying to spoil anyone's fun, but just mentioning HPL's belief system as a caveat - namely, don't expect his materialist/anti-religious personal views to reflect his supernaturalist fiction. A brief treatment of HPL's unbelief can be found here:

unreasonablefaith.com/2010/04/06/the-nature-of-god-by-h-p-lovecraft/

I would say all of us who have read Lovecraft are well aware of his views on religion. However, regardless of his beliefs, one can still enjoy his stories for what they are; fantastic stories of the macabre. There are many authors who are atheists that I absolutely adore; Ursula K LeGuin, Ken Follet and Ray Bradbury to name a few.

However, I’ve always been suspicious about Lovecraft’s declaration of atheism. Half the time while building a universe where mankind is insignificant, there are unusual deviations from the norm. For instance (spoiler) in The Dreams in the Witch House, Keziah Mason is repulsed from the sight of the crucifix held by the protagonist, which is an interesting plot device to come from a staunch atheist. I believe this is something that still perplexes Lovecraftians even to this day. Anyway, whatever Lovecraft’s beliefs, I don’t think it should get in the way of a good discussion on his wonderful stories.

@Ghosty: Thanks for the link to the Cthulhu movie. That was great.

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