4.0 out of 5 stars The Call of Cthulhu during World War II
I first read the "Call of Cthulhu" during WW2. The Services distributed "pass-it-along" editions of many classic novels and the "Call" was one. It was so exciting, I kept my copy and took it home. Dog-eared after so may readers, my kids soon found and read it 15 years latter. Now, this yellowed and torn copy has been replaced by this new...
Published on March 18 2003 by Roy Murphy
3.0 out of 5 stars Between Poe and Wells
A fine collection of Lovecraft's short work, especially for those not yet familiar with the mythos. Stylistically Lovecraft is somewhere between Poe and Wells, though thematically a bit beyond both. As some other reviewers here have mentioned, the structure gets a bit repetitive and predictable: fearsome creature is rumored, fearsome creature is investigated, fearsome...
Published on Oct. 1 2000 by Penner
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Call of Cthulhu during World War II,
I first read the "Call of Cthulhu" during WW2. The Services distributed "pass-it-along" editions of many classic novels and the "Call" was one. It was so exciting, I kept my copy and took it home. Dog-eared after so may readers, my kids soon found and read it 15 years latter. Now, this yellowed and torn copy has been replaced by this new Penquin edition. Lovecraft's style is odd and sometimes overdone. He never wrote about romance and very little about science fiction. Modern Cthulhu mythos novels, like "The Riddle of Cthulhu", correct all these faults and are cool next books, after the "Call"!
4.0 out of 5 stars A splendid introduction to Lovecraft.,
This was the first Lovecraft book I ever read. In keeping with Penguin's tradition of scholarly presentations of literary masterpieces, this volume begins with an essay by Joshi on Lovecraft's life and works. The stories themselves are fairly heavily laden with endnotes, which, while initially distracting, eventually lead the reader to discover richness in Lovecraft's work which would not be evident at first blush. Prominent among the annotations are explanations of geographical places and names which appear in the stories, together with allusions to works by other authors (most prominently Poe and Bierce) which echo Lovecraft's.
This book is highly recommended for anyone wishing a good first glimpse of the masterful mind of Lovecraft.
4.0 out of 5 stars Nightmare Fuel,
This was my first exposure to the writings of H. P. Lovecraft, and I enjoyed it so much that half way through, I went out and bought another collection, THE THING ON THE DOORSTEP AND OTHER WEIRD STORIES. Lovecraft's prose is creepy in a way that I really hadn't experienced from other so-called horror writers. A lot of the stories follow the same basic structure, but that didn't distract from the fact that these were some of the wildest and most chilling stories that I have read in a very long time.
I had heard a lot about the types of stories that Lovecraft wrote, but I wasn't really prepared for how creepy they would be. A lot of them really shouldn't be as shocking as they are, but somehow Lovecraft gets away with it. He likes to use a lot of frivolous language and has the tendency to take short cuts by saying that the various creatures and entities are too frightening, too complicated, or too alien for the human mind to comprehend. While I'm usually the first person to roll my eyes at this sort of literary cop-out, I was completely enthralled by its use here. Lovecraft's command of language is precise and effective. The monsters and Gods that he describes truly seem fearsome and unnerving.
The actual plots of these stories seem to be vaguely repetitive. Since this is the first collection of Lovecraft that I have read, I'm not sure if these is indicative of his work in general, but it is certainly apparent that many of these stories follow the same basic structure. I didn't really find this to be a problem though. There are enough major differences in the stories that they don't all seem to blend together, despite their commonalities. This was helped, no doubt, by the fact that I only read a few stories at a time, managing to absorb the book slowly over a longer period of time.
This edition is semi-annotated, though I'd advice against reading them if you've never encountered these stories before. They contain a lot of background detail, but also contain numerous spoilers. I found myself reading a story and then going back and safely reading the notes and references. Each story is also given a short write-up that gives a non-fictional account of the background. Interested readers can see what the circumstances were behind each of the writings, as well as their publishing history.
To be honest, it's difficult to review a short story collection. After all, there are eighteen different tales in this book, and the reviewer simply doesn't have enough space to discuss each one individually. The best that I can do is to state that while there were one or two stories that failed to grab, the vast majority of these were spellbinding and genuinely unsettling.
5.0 out of 5 stars It has its moments...,
But "weird" really does describe most of these stories. I remember liking these a lot more when I was younger. The mental image of the fish god arising from the bog doesn't really hold up over the years.
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best Books Ever!,
This is undoubtedly one of the best books of all time. I've gotten little or no sleep the last few nights (but then I'm a nervous, jumpy person to begin with). The stories, in addition to being scary, are interesting! Some are predictable, but never to the pint of being dull. The descriptions are poetic and envoking, and the stories are emotional. This book is great for anyone who can stand the sophisticated writing style and big words.
4.0 out of 5 stars Influential in all aspects,
Great master pieces of horror and suspense, although they are often predictable. Anyone who enjoys Edgar Allan Poe or modern writers such as stephen king would love every minute of this book. Tales of hybrids and "The Great Old Ones" and the Cthulhu whose name must not be written by mere mortals.
The author's influnece can be seen beyond other authors. The Metallica instumental "The Call of Ktulu" is named after this book. Another Metallica song, "The Thing That Should Not Be" is simply "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" turned into a song.
4.0 out of 5 stars Imaginative,
These are the strangest stories. They are less strong than Edgar Allan Poe's stories of a similar vein - almost childlike in some ways. Invariably the expose at the end of the story is tame, rather trivial. And I don't think I have ever read the words 'horrible' or 'horror' so often. To be truthful about it, I don't really like being told something is horrible - I need to be shown. Often Lovecraft absolutely declines to do this. Take for example 'The Statement of Randolph Carter'. This is a engaging yarn but we never know what the horror is, we just have cries of anguish reporting it. Is this carelessness or laziness? Or is it like a sound heard in the distance - peripherally - unrecoverable and disturbing, keeping you on the edge of the seat waiting just in case it sounds again?
Despite, for me, the poor structure of the stories and the weakness of their endings, I find it impossible to criticise Lovecraft's imaginativeness. These are very creative stories. It is commonly believed that Poe showed great psychological insight in his stories, but what does Lovecraft use as the trigger for his imagination? Is it a dread of science - an irrational fear? I'm not at all sure that I know and perhaps this adds to the intrigue of these stories.
I also enjoyed the notes to these stories with their historic and critical insights. (Although what this statement means puzzled both my wife and I: 'The seemingly straightforward story of an explorer ....... appears more complex than it seems.')
4.0 out of 5 stars Influential master,
Reading Lovecraft's stories today, it's hard to suppress the feeling that you've heard this one before. You probably have, of course - though in a different form and under a different name. While much of his work is plainly unoriginal (the ghosts of Poe and Lord Dunsany whisper just a little too loudly in places), it's no overstatement to say his comparatively small corpus has informed most of twentieth-century horror. And though many have tried, no one has quite matched the overblown pitch of his macabre, lugubrious little melodramas, nor rivaled the gloriously monstrous adjectival orgy of his prose.
More interesting, though, than his scenarios or style is the world view which inspired them. "Was I tottering on the brink of cosmic horrors beyond man's power to bear?" asks the narrator of 'The Call of Cthulhu' - a sentiment no doubt shared by many tired souls living through the godless pandemonium of the early twentieth century. While more 'serious' writers like T. S. Eliot responded to the apparent end of civilization with a sparse modernism and renewed religiosity, Lovecraft embraced a 'mechanistic materialism' which emphasizes man's ultimate cosmic insignificance. His monsters might not frighten you, but in tale after tale it is this which is most chilling.
Arranged in the order in which they were written - and supplemented by a solid Introduction, suggestions for further reading, and very detailed notes - S. T. Joshi's Penguin edition (like its companion, 'The Thing on the Doorstep') is a useful volume for those wanting to taste Lovecraft's mad genius, witness its development, and learn something about the man and his place in history.
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Introduction To H.P. Lovecraft,
Will become one of your prized Lovecraft's books. As it is published by Penguin you are assured they have taken the time to publish an excellent sampling of the author's material. I read this book and became hooked on Lovecraft - his beautiful prose and thrilling horror. (I'm wearing my HP Lovecraft shirt now!).
5.0 out of 5 stars The Contents of This Book,
Since there are so many different Lovecraft collections out there, it may be useful to prospective buyers to know what's actually in this one:
[First, preliminary material by S. T. Joshi:] Introduction; Suggestions for Further Reading; A Note on the Text; [Hereupon stories by H. P. Lovecraft:] Dagon; The Statement of Randolph Carter; Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family; Celephais; Nyarlathotep; The Picture in the House; The Outsider; Herbert West--Reanimator [a collected magazine serial]; The Hound; The Rats in the Walls; The Festival; He; Cool Air; The Call of Cthulhu; The Colour Out of Space; The Whisperer in Darkness; The Shadow Over Innsmouth; The Haunter of the Dark; [By Joshi again:] Explanatory Notes
Unlike in THE ANNOTATED H. P. LOVECRAFT and MORE ANNOTATED H. P. LOVECRAFT, also edited and annotated (though in the latter case co-edited and co-annotated) by Joshi, the equally copious annotations here are collected at the back of the book (thereby being what are technically known as "endnotes") rather than placed at the bottom of story pages where they're referenced (known as "footnotes"). And also unlike the "ANNOTATED" volumes, THE CALL OF CTHULHU AND OTHER WEIRD STORIES lacks photographs that highlight the relationships between the subjects in the stories and the persons and places of Lovecraft's life; features smaller print, which makes it a bit harder to read but means more stories can be packed into the volume.
THE CALL OF CTHULHU AND OTHER WEIRD STORIES now has out a sequel, THE THING ON THE DOORSTEP AND OTHER WEIRD STORIES, a similarly arranged collection of Lovecraft fiction with an introduction and endnotes by Joshi and put out by the same publisher, Penguin. Each of these Penguin volumes, as well as the two "ANNOTATED" volumes published by Dell, presents its selection of stories in the order they were written, a practical advantage when reading Lovecraft.
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The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) by H. P. Lovecraft (Paperback - Sept. 27 2011)
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