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The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories

by H. P. Lovecraft

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3,272583,782 (4)111
Frequently imitated and widely influential, Howard Phillips Lovecraft reinvented the horror genre in the twentieth century, discarding ghosts and witches and envisioning instead mankind as a tiny outpost of dwindling sanity in a chaotic and malevolent universe. Love craft's preeminent interpreter S.T. Joshi presents a selection of the master's fiction, from the early tales of nightmares and madness such as "The Outsider" and "Rats in the Walls," through the grotesquely comic "Herbert West-Reanimator" and "The Hound," to the overpowering cosmic terror of "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" and "The Call of Cthulhu." The first paperback edition to include the definitive corrected texts, The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories reveals the development of Lovecraft's mesmerizing narrative style and establishes him as a canonical-and visionary-American writer.… (more)

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Mixed bag. ( )
  Nealmaro | Jul 28, 2023 |

‘Lovecraft’s pseudo mythology brutally shows that man is not the center of the universe, that the - gods - care nothing for him, and that the earth and all its inhabitants are but a momentary incident in the unending cyclical chaos of the universe.’ (p.xvii, from the introduction by S.T. Joshi)

Dagon is the testament, or last letter of a tortured man who plans to commit suicide. The narrator thinks he is destined to die because of the knowledge he has gained.
The narrator is a merchant-marine officer, and during a voyage on the Atlantic Ocean his cargo is captured by a German sea-rider. He manages to escape, but he is stranded on what seems to be a volcanic island. He sees a gigantic white stone covered by hieroglyphs, and when he is watching them … a creature emerges from the sea: Dagon …

This short story introduces Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos: Dagon, the fish-god.


‘The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents.’ (from the Call of Cthulhu)

This short story was written December 1919.

Randolph Carter represents the double of Lovecraft telling about his dreams.

Carter has been found wandering through swamps in a state of shock, this story is his statement to the police. Carter has to explain the disappearance of his friend Harley Warren.
Warren has received from India a book where he learns about a door between the surface world and the underworld.
Warren discovers the location of such portal and invites Carter …

No monsters, no blood, just the atmosphere by the master Howard Phillips Lovecraft.

‘I watched amorphous, necrophagous shadows dance beneath an accursed waning moon.’ (p.13)


Short story written in 1920.

In the first part of The Late Arthur Jermyn, Lovecraft describes the ancestors of Sir Arthur Jermyn. They are all explorers and they are fascinated especially by the Congo region.

In the second part Lovecraft tells about Arthur Jermyn and his journey in Congo on a research expedition. Arthur heard stories from his ancestors of a stone city of white apes and the mummified body of a white ape goddess.
Could the mummified white ape be anyone of his ancestors?


Fantasy story written in November 1920.

‘Where the sea meets the sky’

Celephais is the name of a fictional city. Kuranes slowly slips away to the dream-world and creates Celephais.
In Celephais there is no perception of time: time doesn’t influence the life in this city.

‘But some of us awake in the night with strange phantasms of enchanted hills and gardens, of fountains that sing in the sun, of golden cliffs overhanging murmuring seas, … and then we know that we have looked back through the ivory gates into the world of wonder which was ours before we were wise and unhappy.’ (p.24-5)


Nyarlathotep appeared in 1920 (the story).
Nyarlathotep or the Crawling Chaos is a malign deity in the Cthulhu Mythos of H.P. Lovecraft.

Nyarlathotep walks the Earth in the appearance of a human being, although he has thousand other forms. Nyarlathotep as messenger of the outer gods will destroy the human race and the earth as well.

‘A sense of monstrous guilt was upon the land …
There was a daemoniac alteration in the sequence of the seasons …
And it was then that Nyarlathotep came out of Egypt …
He said … that he had heard messages from places not on this planet …’ (p.31)

‘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.
And through this revolting graveyard of the universe …’ (p.33)

Maybe there has been a meeting between Batty (Blade Runner) and Nyarlathotep:
- I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time... like tears in rain... Time to die. -


The Picture in the House was written on December, 1920.

‘They climb to the moonlit towers of ruined Rhine castles, and falters down black cobwebbed steps beneath the scattered stones of forgotten cities in Asia. …
Most horrible of all sights are the little unpainted wooden houses remote from travelled ways, …
In such houses have dwelt generations of strange people, whose like the world has never seen.’ (p.34)

A traveller in rural New England seeks shelter from a thunderstorm in a house. Although there is nobody in the house, as first impression, the man finds a strange book. The book tells Pigafetta’s account of the Congo region; the volume tends to fall open on a specific page: a butcher’s shop of the cannibal Anziques.
Some noises from the upstairs suggest that the house is occupied.


The Outsider is a short story written between March and August 1921.

‘Unhappy is he to whom the memories of childhood bring only fear and sadness.’ (p. 43)

A man who has been living alone in a castle decides to search human contact. The narrator knows the world outside only from his reading of antique books.
He finds a way out of the castle and tries to join a party, but the people are terrified before him and run away.
The man detects a presence: ‘It was the ghoulish shade of decay, antiquity, and desolation.’ (p. 48)

Conscious of his figure:
‘Now I ride with the mocking and friendly ghouls on the night-wind, and play by day amongst the catacombs of Nephren-Ka in the sealed and unknown valley of Hadoth by the Nile. …
Yet in my new wildness and freedom I almost welcome the bitterness of alienage.’ (p.49)


‘They knew, indeed, that West had been connected with activities beyond the credence of ordinary men.‘ (p.76)

Herbert West - Reanimator contains six short stories narrated by West’s friend from the years of medical school until West’s disappearing.
Lovecraft wrote these short stories between October 1921 and June 1922. He tells for the first time of zombies.

From the Dark
West and his friend / narrator met in medical school, and the last one is fascinated by West’s theories about dead bodies that could be restarted. ‘Holding … that all life is a chemical and physical process, and that the so-called “soul” is a myth …” (p.51)
After several attempts to restart a dead body, they manage with a fresh corpse. Hearing an inhuman scream West and his friend have to flee: ‘vaulting madly into the starred abyss of the rural night.’ (p.54) ‘... burst the most appalling and daemoniac succession of cries that either of us had ever heard. Not more unutterable could have been the chaos of hellish sound if the pit itself had opened to release the agony of the damned’ (p.54)
The Plague-Demon
A typhus epidemic breaks out and although West and the unnamed narrator are not allowed to dissect human cadavers, they are called to help the dying victims. West injects his serum in each body, but without appreciable results. Dean Halsey, chief of the university dissection lab succumbs to typhoid; so West steals his corpse. After the injection, Halsey reanimates but becomes violent.
West: ‘Damn it, it wasn’t quite fresh enough!’ (p.60)
Six Shots by Midnight
West and the narrator purchase a house near the town’s cemetery (of course!). They also buy a corpse of a black boxing champion. West injects the serum but nothing happens, so he and the narrator bury the corpse.
A child is missing and parts of his body reappears at the West’s door house: the courier is the black boxing champion (Ups?).
The Scream of the Dead
The narrator after a visit to his parents, returns to the house who shares with Herbert West. The latter shows to his friend a corpse perfectly preserves. West explains that he has invented an embalming fluid and he has waited the narrator’s return to reanimate the corpse. They manage to reanimate the corpse but before dying again, the corpse screams revealing an horrible truth.
The Horror from the Shadows
Five years after the last reanimation, West has joined the army in the WWI. West means to procure bodies for his experiments. West befriends another medic sharing with him his theories about reanimation. After a while West’s new friend is killed: the body is decapitated. West injects the serum in the trunk and in the head, so the head begins to speak, telling the last moment of his life.
The Tomb-Legions
Herbert West-Reanimator’s last story tells about zombies as we know from movies.
West and his friend return from WWI and move into a house which is directly connected to an ancient system of catacombs. West reads in a newspaper an article telling a series of strange events involving a man with a wax head. This man is West’s friend from WWI, he seeks revenge helped by other zombies.
Zombies come out from the catacombs and take West with them. ‘Detectives have questioned me (the narrator), but what can I say?’ (p. 80)


‘Madness rides the star-wind …
claws and teeth sharpened on centuries of corpses …
dripping death astride a Bacchanale of bats from night-black ruins of buried temples of Belial.’ (p.88)

The Hound was written by H.P. Lovecraft in 1922.
This short story has been influenced by many important books: A Rebours by Joris-Karl Huysmans; Vathek by William Beckford; and Edgar Allan Poe.

The narrator and his friend St.John are interested in robbing graves. They have set up a museum in their basement: headstones, skulls, a portfolio bound in tanned human skin.
One day the narrator and his friend learn about a cemetery in Holland where a former grave robber has been buried, several centuries before.
Reaching the cemetery they notice a barking giant hound. Both start digging finding a coffin, inside the coffin they are surprised to find a corpse still intact. Hanging from the corpse’s neck there is a jade amulet: it is one mentioned in the forbidden book Necronomicon.
‘Necronomicon … the ghastly soul-symbol of the corpse-eating cult of inaccessible Teng, in Central Asia.’ (p.84)
They return home and strange sounds (the hound?) can be heard in their house.
St.John is killed by an unknown creature.
The narrator wants to stop the curse and return to the Holland cemetery, discovering … the amulet is hanging from the neck of the former grave robber.


‘They must know it was the rats.’ (page 108)

A descendant of Delapore’s family is the narrator of The Rats in the Walls (1923). He has recently moved from Massachusetts to England.

The narrator and his cat, named Nigger-man, hear noises of rats scurrying behind the walls.
Looking for the rats he discovers ‘a subterraneous world of limitless mystery and horrible suggestion.’ (page 105) The narrator’s family raised human cattle building an underground city.

Eventually the narrator attacks a friend and eats him. He is locked in a mental institution, claiming his innocence and telling that were the rats in the walls to eat his friend.

A gift from Lovecraft to Edgar Allan Poe.


The Festival (October 1923) is considered to be one of the first of Cthulhu Mythos.
During Yuletide (a winter festival celebrated by Germanic people, and later absorbed into Christian celebration) an unnamed narrator is going to Kingsport, Massachusetts.
The narrator comes at his relatives’ house where he meets an old man. The old man tells the narrator to wait a few moments in a room. The narrator picks up a book from a pile: the Necronomicon.

At the sound of a clock bell the narrator goes outside the house and follows a crowd of cloaked figures.
The people is going to a great white church, where they engage in a Yule-rite.

‘It was the Yule-rite, older than man and fated to survive him; the primal rite of the solstice and of spring’s promise beyond the snow; the rite of fire and evergreen, light and music. … But what frightened me most was the flaming column; … For it all that seething combustion no warmth lay, but only the clamminess of death and corruption.’ (page 115)

Lovecraft suggests the idea of ‘the survival of some clan of pre-Aryan sorcerers who preserved primitive rites those of the witch-cult … that … had its origin in a pre-Aryan race that was driven underground but continued to lurk in the hidden corners of the earth.’ (from the explanatory notes, page 385)


He (August 1925) tells the story of an unnamed narrator who has moved to New York.
One night the narrator meets a man, who is wearing eighteen’s century clothes, and offers to show him the city.

Eventually the narrator follows the man at his home, where he learns about the true face of New York: he sees visions from the past and the future with flying creatures and mutated people.

‘I never sought to return to those tenebrous labyrinth, nor would I direct any sane man thither if I could. Of who or what that ancient creature was, I have no idea; but I repeat that the city is dead and full of unsuspected horrors.’ (page 129)

These were Lovecraft impressions of New York.


Cool Air (March 1926) is another story written during Lovecraft’s journey to New York.
The narrator is looking for an apartment for rent in New York. He finds one where, upstairs, lives a doctor, Dr. Munoz.
One day the narrator suffers a heart attack and he is rescued by Dr. Munoz.
As the acquaintance goes on, the narrator learns about Dr. Munoz’s obsession: he keeps his apartment at a vey low temperature (13° C) using a refrigeration system.

Problems occur when the refrigerator’s pump breaks down.

Dr. Munoz, after death, has preserved his body for eighteen years helped by the cold. The narrator is witnessing Dr. Munoz’s body decay, caused by the warm.

A technologically (refrigeration system) version of The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar by E.A. Poe.


The Call of Cthulhu (1926) is written in a documentary style, in three parts. The narrator recounts his discovery of notes written by his granduncle George Gammell Angell.

The narrator, among the notes, finds a bas-relief sculpture. It shows an octopus, or a dragon, or a human caricature. Henry Anthony Wilcox, who based his work on dreams of great Cyclopean cities, is the author of the sculpture. Wilcox’s dreams happened in March, April 1925, and during the same time in every angle of the world there were cases of group folly.

‘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 … but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality … that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.’ (page 139)

The second part of The Call of Cthulhu, is The Tale of Inspector Legrasse: Legrasse assists at a meeting of people venerating a statuette, and repeating:
‘In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.’
Legrasse, as police inspector, arrests some people and takes the statuette. The statuette has close resemblances with Wilcox’s bas-relief.

‘Those first men formed the cult around small idols which the Great Ones shewed them; idols bought in dim aeras from dark stars. That cult would never die till the stars came right again, and the secret priests would take great Cthulhu from His tomb to revive His subjects and resume this rule on earth. The time would be easy to know, for then mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild beyond good and evil.’ (page 155)

‘the Great Old Ones who lived ages before there were any man, and who came to the young world out of the sky.’ (page 153)

The Madness from the Sea is the third part of The Call of Cthulhu. The narrator after reading the notes, investigates on Cthulhu Cult. Casually he reads an article about a derelict ship with only one survivor, Gustav Johansen.
The narrator reads in a diary written by Johansen that they have been attacked by another ship; eventually they have defeated the attackers and sailed toward an uncharted island.
‘The thing cannot be described - there is no language for such abysms of shrieking and immemorial lunacy, such eldritch contradictions of all matter, force, and cosmic order.’ (page 167)

About the Joshi’s note regarding an obvious Lovecraft’s reference to Nietzsche, the editor quotes Lovecraft: ‘let me state clearly that I do not swallow him (Nietzsche) whole.’ The note is referred to the Nietzsche’s idea of morality, beyond evil and good. Although I agree with Joshi about morality, I’d like to suggest interesting connections between Lovecraft and Thus Spake Zarathustra by Nietzsche.

‘Some day he would call, when the stars were ready and the secret cult would always be waiting to liberate him.’ (page 154)


“It is not because of anything that can be seen or heard or handled, but because of something that is imagined.” (page 170)

The Colour Out of Space (March 1927) is narrated by an unnamed surveyor from Boston. He is looking for a place where to build a new reservoir.
Surveying a rural area he comes across a patch of land. The surveyor’s feelings are of angst, so he hurries to go on.
Curiosity grows in the surveyor, he asks for information and talks with an hermit, Ammi Pierce.
Ammi tells to the surveyor an horrific story: in June 1882 a farm, run by Nahum Gardner and his family, was hit by a meteorite containing a substance of an indescribable colour.
“It was just a colour out of space …” (page 199)

Lovecraft in The Colour Out of Space quotes two painters: Salvator Rosa and Johann Heinrich Fuessli.
Both painters probably had been source of inspiration for Lovecraft: Salvator Rosa for his landscapes, overgrown wilderness, mountains swept by wind, haunting vistas.
Johann Heinrich Fuessli’s paintings suggesting of the supernatural.

( )
  NewLibrary78 | Jul 22, 2023 |
Lovecraft proves to possess really quite a meagre talent for writing, which is a shame because a woman I had once desperately wanted to bed said that he was her favourite writer - so her attractiveness has sadly gone down a peg or two. Had to supplement spooky tunes à la Current 93 to get me in the mood for these tales; however I did still find some enjoyment in those stories involving strange, geometrically impossible spaces and caverns. The Colour Out of Space, the first Lovecraft I ever read, still seems to be his best after finishing this disappointing collection. There has got to be Neo-Lovecraftians (is this what his disciples are called? Seems a bit highfalutin for a genre so trashy) who do justice to his great concept of grand, yet indifferent, cosmic horror. ( )
  theoaustin | May 19, 2023 |
It's hard to decide how to rate this. By modern writing standards, HPL is not particularly good: lots of adjectives and adverbs, weak narrative, too 'pulpy.' On the other hand, he is, of course, a product of his times (pulpy). He always was deliberately trying to show how hard it was to describe the indescribable: his books are about the encounter of normal people with things utterly weird and alien. And he is a universally acknowledged flagbearer of this genre, which ought to count for something.

Pinning down this genre is not so easy either. It's not really horror, though it is frequently horrific. At the time, it was referred to as strange or weird stories. Weird fiction has been undergoing a revival in recent decades as seen in the popularity of works by Jeff Vandermeer, China Mieville, Storm Constantine and others. Mieville in particular is known for his florid prose.

If you like this sort of descriptiveness (I do) or at least aren't turned off by it, and/or want to read some pulp classics, you should take in a few of HPL's stories, and this collection is a great place to do that.
( )
  qaphsiel | Feb 20, 2023 |
I'm not a huge fan of horror genre at all, but once an a while I do get into it. H. P. Lovecraft happens to be someone I enjoy. Never read anything of his before this and love him. Love how he incorporated so much of New England culture into his story. Cthulhu is also a very interesting charter. Possibly one of the most power beings in literature. If you're looking for a fun read, then dig into some Lovecraft. ( )
  Ghost_Boy | Aug 25, 2022 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lovecraft, H. P.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hillier, DanIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Joshi, S. T.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moore, AlanPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
I am writing this under an appreciable mental strain, since by tonight I shall be no more.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This work should include the Penguin edition along with other collections containing the following stories:

Dagon -- Statement of Randolph Carter -- Facts concerning the late Arthur Jermyn and his family -- Celephais -- Nyarlathotep -- Picture in the house -- Outsider -- Herbert West--Reanimator -- Hound -- Rats in the walls -- Festival -- He -- Cool air -- Call of Cthulhu -- Colour out of space -- Whisperer in darkness -- Shadow over Innsmouth -- Haunter of the dark

Please keep separate the individual short story as well as collections with differing contents.
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Frequently imitated and widely influential, Howard Phillips Lovecraft reinvented the horror genre in the twentieth century, discarding ghosts and witches and envisioning instead mankind as a tiny outpost of dwindling sanity in a chaotic and malevolent universe. Love craft's preeminent interpreter S.T. Joshi presents a selection of the master's fiction, from the early tales of nightmares and madness such as "The Outsider" and "Rats in the Walls," through the grotesquely comic "Herbert West-Reanimator" and "The Hound," to the overpowering cosmic terror of "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" and "The Call of Cthulhu." The first paperback edition to include the definitive corrected texts, The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories reveals the development of Lovecraft's mesmerizing narrative style and establishes him as a canonical-and visionary-American writer.

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Book description
Contains the following novellas and short stories.

The Terrible Old Man
Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and his Family
The Picture in The House
Herbert West - Reanimator
The Rats in The Wall
The Call Of Cthulhu
The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward
The Colour Out Of Space
The Dunwich Horror
The Whisperer In Darkness
The Shadow Over Innsmouth
The Dreams In The Witch House
The Haunter Of The Dark
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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141187069, 0143106481


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