“The Call of Cthulhu” by H. P. Lovecraft

“That is not dead which can eternal lie, And with strange aeons even death may die.”

This week I chose to read “The Call of Cthulhu” by H. P. Lovecraft for Short Stories on Wednesdays, hosted by Breadcrumb Reads.

I had been working my way through a collection of Lovecraft’s stories during the R.I.P. Challenge, but hadn’t gotten as far as the Cthulhu mythos yet.  As this is one of his most famous, I decided to skip ahead and read it now.

The story is comprised of the notes of a man named Thurston, who has pieced together papers from his granduncle to tell the story of Cthulhu.  The first segment deals with a bas-relief sculpture of a strange creature.  The sculptor was one of many unrelated individuals who reported having strange dreams of an ancient city with alien geometry and a winged squid monstrosity.

The second segment describes a cult near New Orleans, where a similar statue was found.  Thurston pieces together the beliefs of the cult, which holds that the Great Old Ones dwelled on Earth in the past, but now sleep in a sunken city.  One day they shall awaken and begin a reign of destruction.

In the third segment, a handful of sailors accidentally come upon a newly exposed fragment of a sunken city…

Lovecraft is only a little bit racist in “The Call of Cthulhu,” which is more than I can say about many of his other works.

I can see why people like this story so much.  The existence of the Great Old Ones is just plausible enough to send chills down one’s spine, especially considering the fact that different cultures around the world with no connection to each other often have similar mythologies.  It’s interesting to imagine, especially since I’ve been told that Cthulhu is supposed to be only among the lesser of the Great Old Ones.  I’ve got a great respect for Lovecraft for coming up with such a compelling concept.

I recommend Lovecraft as bedtime reading.  His stories make excellent nightmare fuel.

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Categories: Fiction, Horror/Gothic, Short Stories | Tags: , , , , | 21 Comments

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21 thoughts on ““The Call of Cthulhu” by H. P. Lovecraft

  1. I loved this one. I always find that Lovecraft affects me more on the second read, though. He hits you on the head the first time, but the second time around is a huge THUMP! I love that his writing is so intelligent. Spooky, but intelligently so. I used to read a lot of ghost stories as a kid, and none of them impressed me. Later, my English teacher suggested that I try Lovecraft and…wow.

    • I’m always pleased when a writer manages to give nightmares. Not many can pull that off. I haven’t tried re-reading any of Lovecraft’s stories yet because I still have so many I haven’t read. I may have to give it a shot!

  2. “Call” is easily one of my favorite of Lovecraft’s (and if you like the story, I highly recommend checking out the silent film of the same name, it’s available on Netflix Instant), though as far as I’ve read of his the only one that’s really gone and disturbed/frightened me is “The Rats in the Walls.” Short, sweet, and definite nightmare fuel.

    • “The Rats in the Walls” was soooooo creepy! And of course the poor unfortunately named kitty… lol.

  3. I read this book last year and enjoyed it. I never did review it, but I do know I need to read more Lovecraft!

    • Cool! I’m trying to read more of him; I’ve only recently started reading horror at all, but I like it!

  4. I echo TBM in his applauding the “nightmare fuel.” Very nice. I plan on stealing that for my own use when the copyright runs out… 🙂

    I’ve read some Lovecraft, and recently bought his At The Mountains of Madness but haven’t started it yet. Cthulhu has become quite the icon in horror of the years, hasn’t he/it?

    One short story of his I’ll recommend is “The Doom the Came to Sarnath.” Also good fuel…

    -Jay

    • Feel free to use it, lol. I’ll definitely have to read “The Doom That Came to Sarnath.” I haven’t read “At the Mountains of Madness” yet either!

  5. I got my first taste of Lovecraftian horror last year summer when I read The Mountains of Madness. I only read it because at the back Zafon’s book, The Shadow of the Wind. He was in the list of writers that the author thought was worth reading. By the way, I’m now following your blog. So keep up the great posts!

    • Oooh, nice. There are a lot of authors that I’ve tried because I’ve seen other authors mention them!

  6. I love this book! It was always a great read. I’m glad you enjoyed it, its definitely a classic. Can’t wait to hear what your next book is. 🙂

    • Thank you! I’m still trying to decide what to pick when I’m done with Asimov’s “Foundation”… 😛

      • I just read foundation a couple months ago and have Foundation and Empire in the queue…

        Also, if you’re an Asimov fan and haven’t already rad it, his autobiography “I, Asimov” was wonderful.

        -Jay

        • I haven’t read his autobiography yet, but I do know that I’m going to be participating in a groupread of “Foundation and Empire” when we finish “Foundation.” Feel free to join!

  7. I read several of the stories from Lovecraft, and if you’re going to read anything from him you have to read The Call of Cthulu. I think this was well written and did a lot to set up a mythos around Cthulu, but I don’t think it was his most disturbing short story. For me that most disturbing story of his was “Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family.”

  8. I have always enjoyed Lovecraft! His stories always have a chill factor and are written in superb style. Nice review!

  9. I love it: nightmare fuel…

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