The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories - (Penguin Orange Collection)

By H. P. Lovecraft

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Readers` Reviews

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
matthew torpy
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.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
prabhat singh
A very well done compilation of some of Lovecraft's most famous, and not so famous, short stories. These stories are weird, discomforting, and terrifying in a way that only Lovecraft can. This version also has an appendix, which is helpful for the terms and ideas that were more well known in Lovecraft's day but not so common now. On the negative side, if you've heard that Lovecraft had... issues with race, stories like Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family pretty much confirm his more racist thought process. But, I'd say stories like Call of Cthulhu and Herbert West: Reanimator make up for it. You want cosmic horror? Look no further.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
derklbot rosenstrauch
It is known that using too many adjectives or words in writing is frowned upon. I will disagree with those scholars, critics, and literary experts until the day I die.

It is time to release yourself from the mental prisons of the majority rule.

When you see a beautiful painting, do you give it but a cursory glance and then move on to the next one, having your fill in only a moments time? No, because if something is captivating, you linger; you breathe it in and drink it down. So why would the same not apply for artistic writing? Are we supposed to write concisely so that the speed readers of Hermes can gulp our work down without the smallest delay in pace? Hell no. The same DOES apply to writing. If something terrible, ethereal, joyous, or inspirational is being written about, then by the mercy of heaven's amazement, let it be colored with the adjectives and words it needs so that we may linger in the literary canvas of its becoming.

H.P. Lovecraft is the dark artist with the cosmic palette, and he will dazzle your mind. Read his work. Enjoy every single word. If you want to dance within lurid realms, amongst ancient magics, and with gargantuan, clandestine beings, then you will be more than satisfied. If you pay no heed to the "rules" of literature, then you will be enthralled.

Let the hammer of literary wonder fall.

Author of The Dark Verse, Volume I: From the Passages of Revenants (Imitation Leather)
At the Mountains of Madness :: The Complete Works of H. P. Lovecraft Volume 1 - 70 Horror Short Stories :: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre - The Best of H. P. Lovecraft :: A Collection Of Riveting Haunted House Mysteries - Ghostly Secrets Super Boxset :: The Shunned House
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
cara m
Being a long-time Lovecraft fanatic, I am pleased to see that Penquin chose to publish a two volume collection of his works.

Lovecraft's writing is not for those who ingest King, Grisham, Patterson, Dan Brown or other formulaic storytellers. These stories are for those who don't shy away from a good gothic thriller, Dostoevsky, Bram Stoker, Poe or other writers who had lived in a different era from our own. If you need to read 'modern writing', Lovecraft is not for you.

Lovecraft's stories tend to be written in the first person, with the narrator, typically alone, happening upon some sort of forbidden esoteric knowledge or unknown malevolent evil. Because of this, there are relatively few 'confrontations' in his stories. When you read a Lovecraft story you are entering the mind of an intelligent, often times lonely, protagonist who finds himself in a terrifying situation, helpless, alone, scared to death and knowing that if he survives, his mind will never recover.

There are very few female characters, no sex, limited violence and not an overwhelming amount of action sequences. But lots of action and violence are not needed. Lovecraft has true talent and an amazingly far-reaching imagination that allows him to take you into a vivid world full of mysteries, supernatural occurences and unnameable horrors like no writer before or since. In fact, he often uses the words 'thing' and 'unnameable' because the creatures and horrors that he creates are so far beyond the scope of what the human mind can acknowledge that there is simply no other way to describe them. His creatures should have never existed and human beings should never be witness to them or even be aware of their existence.

Deeply psychological and thoroughly paranoid not to mention flat-out 'weird', Lovecraft is a writer like no other. He has created an entire mythology beginning with the creation of the Universe and conjures up lifeforms and gods who existed on earth, and elsewhere, long before human beings ever came into existence. In fact, in Lovecraft's world, human beings are insignificant creatures who are to the Universe what harmless microscopic bacteria are to the earth. This is troubling for some readers and it is certainly troubling to the protagonists who are unfortunate enough to discover the Truth.

Everyone should try Lovecraft and give his unique style of writing a chance. Do not expect outrageous action sequences and gratuitous violence or sex, but expect to be taken to a world where anything, even the most unthinkable horrors are not just possible but commonplace, and learn how a person reacts and copes when he becomes aware of Things that he feels never should have existed and of the knowledge that these Things act as though it is the human beings that never should have existed.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
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 creature is witnessed. End of story. Still, the basic idea, of an ancient earthly or alien intelligence so vast and complex that mankind is utterly irrelevant, is a fascinating one. A bit dated now as are all science fiction writers of the 19th and early 20th centuries, but a good read nonetheless. The editor is a bit intrusive, as has also been mentioned in other reviews here.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
samantha jensen
The readers are particularly effective in this audio book. Both are English (which would doubtless make H.P. happy) and both are very talented actors. Together they create performances that are intelligent, nuanced and expressive. Too many readings of Lovecraft I've heard have been either overwrought or ineffective. This one is more on the level of a really good BBC performance.

I've listened to my copy again and again and enjoy it every time. I am hoping that there are--or will be--more by these actors.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
el hunger readeuse
Classic short collection of Lovecraft full of the usual horrors and ghastliness and madness driven by fear and doomed narrators and ancient hieroglyphics and wacky unworldly geometry. Good Halloween reading.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
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"!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
koren zailckas
Readers of HPL are aware of his racial attitudes as expressed in his works and I will not elaborate on them here.
In this day and age, a cat named Nxxxxx-Man renamed Black-Man (Rats in the Walls) in one Audiobook can be expected.
However, should one expect deletion of "Voodoo orgies multiply in Hayti, and African outposts report ominous mutterings. American officers in the Philippines find certain tribes bothersome about this time, and New York policemen are mobbed by hysterical Levantines on the night of March..." (Chapter 1) in virtually all Audiobook versions available on Audible?
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Excellent story. For me, it combines the best elements of The Adventures of Indiana Jones, the experience and lore of Disneyland's Haunted Mansion (and the feeling of being in 'old' New Orleans, and Cloverfield the movie.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
It is the first time I buy a Penguin book and I am extremely disappointed by the quality of the paper and of the paper cut (see picture). The manufacturing looks sloppy and the book looks very cheap. If you care about the touch and the appearance of the book like me avoid this editor.
I haven't read the book yet.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
The only missing piece from this mosaic of horror and alien maddnes is "AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADDNES"- If Penguin Publishing would have added it into this book, than it would be accurate to say that this book had all that you need (unless your'e a hard core fan, but than you wouldne't be reading my review anyway...)
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
michael riley
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.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
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.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
I know Lovecraft is supposed to be the master of horror and all- I first heard his name from reading that Bradbury short story about the dead guy and the furnaces. And I know there is a whole subculture of Cthulhu-ites out there ready to crucify me for saying:
This book wasn't that scary.
Maybe it was because I already knew about the Squid-faced god, but I wasn't really chilled, terrified, or perturbed at all reading these stories. Maybe it's because I grew up on resident evil and jaws, maybe it's because I'm a cretin, but I was very disappointed. For all the time Lovecraft spent building mood and throwing around terms like "non-euclidean" and "cyclopean," it seemed that all of the stories of his I read follow the same pseudo-boring pattern of building mood with big words by an almost insane narrater and then a non-horrifying release when you see the monster.
Don't be offended if you already know and love Lovecraft - then this review is not for you. I merely direct this towards anyone born after 1980.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
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.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jennifer heaton
Well, this book covers just about every Lovecraft story you could want. I bought this book mainly for the story "The Call Of Cthulhu", after hearing about it in the movie "Dagon", and hearing stuff about it in a song or two. I'm not a big fan of reading, but it kept my attention. The only drawback is the damn cliff hangers! Yes, it makes for a dramatic ending, but also after a while kind of gets annoying (hence 4 stars instead of 5). Lovecraft's style of writing is quite different from other authors. But for me, it worked. The title is very accurate when it says "And Other Weird Stories". So be prepared. It's also a nice deviation from most of the other horror books out there today. About 98% of which seem to be about vampires. Each story is unique, in every aspect of the word.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
eesha rashid
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!).
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
hien bui
What do Howard Phillips Lovecraft and Norman Rockwell have in common in 2002?

Both artists are being newly appraised and embraced by the same establishments that officially shunned them for decades, which is interesting, as Lovecraft was the anti-Rockwell, a writer who saw deep shadows, howling monsters, and degenerate humanity in the same New England landscapes where the painter saw loving, if often struggling, families and neighbors living in relative homey comfort.

There was a period in the 1970s when Lovecraft's books were kept in the 'classics' section of chain bookstores across America, an apparent mistake which was roundly corrected in the 1980s, when his fiction was regulated to the fantasy, horror, and science fiction area, presumably for good.

The rapid changes in American life and culture today have scholars and critics taking a second look back at both Lovecraft and Rockwell, and finding something precious where they formerly found only the trite, the obvious, and the artistically dismissible.

With 'The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories,' Lovecraft has been officially canonized with this, and a second, Penguin edition. Lovecraft at last has earned his pedestal.

This compilation is a mish-mash of Lovecraft that includes some of his best work, like 'The Colour Out Of Space' and 'The Outsider' as well as an unhealthy portion of his weakest material, such as 'He' and a famous story Lovecraft himself thought too poor to publish, 'The Shadow Over Innsmouth.'

Editor Joshi's introduction and biography are comprehensive and informative, as are the wealth of footnotes that accompany each story. Lovers of the work of Washington Irving, Edgar Allen Poe, Montague Rhodes James, Algernon Blackwood, Arthur Machen or Shirley Jackson who might be oddly unfamiliar with Lovecraft's work, however, can start here.

A lesser writer than all of those listed, Lovecraft, who started his career as a writer in the pulp magazines of the 1920s, has actually benefited posthumously from his status as an ultimately third-rate talent, since his tales and ideas are unchallenging, and thus accessible to even light material-tending readers, many of whom, historically, have taken up and carried on the Cthulhu cudgel.

Lovecraft excelled at creating mood, and in developing his themes to the point of constriction, but, unfortunately, was a poor dramatist.

Most of his stories, like 'The Whisperer In Darkness,' are simply too blatant: 'Whisperer' compromises its mystery from its second page when the author drops a giant, dead crustacean in a New England river after an autumn flood. A better writer could still make something worthwhile from this unsubtle maneuver; Lovecraft cannot.

In many cases, such as in 'The Shadow Over Innsmouth,' the writing is simply too weak to allow the reader to suspend disbelief. 'He' opens brilliantly with several acute, timeless observations about life in New York City, but quickly slides into 10 confused and badly executed pages comprised of Indian curses, time travel, immortality, mysterious mansions, and slithering eye-covered masses of protoplasm.

Lovecraft's "bloated fungoid moons," "mighty beetle civilizations," and "reptile people of fabled Valusia" are hackneyed, coarse, silly, and impossible to take seriously, if still fun for right audience.

A typical Lovecraft piece begins with a narrator hesitantly reporting 'a story too horrible to tell,' ends with the same party found unconscious and semi-amnesiac by well-meaning strangers far from the climatic scene of trauma, and features the appearance, usually towards the middle, of at least one group of degenerate 'natives' babbling in an alien tongue and leaping naked around a fire.

Lovecraft wrote parodies of his own work, but he just as often parodied himself and the genre, even when this was clearly not his intention.

The sexless, reclusive, and xenophobic Lovecraft came, not surprisingly, from the dying line of an old New England family. Since decadence and degeneracy coupled with some element of 'super nature' is the essence of horror, Lovecraft's work and imagination fit his character and history like a glove.

Readers of 'The Call of Cthulhu' will wonder what sort of person could walk through the beautiful hills, valleys, and woods of New England and imagine cosmic monsters and forgotten, tentacled deities hiding beneath the quiet towns, farms, and the autumn foliage of Vermont and New Hampshire, or rocky shorelines of Massachusetts.

Lovecraft's father died of syphilis when Howard was eight years old, and, after a physical and mental breakdown, his domineering mother passed away when he was 21.

Lovecraft himself was sickly as a boy, and left high school early due to an undiagnosed breakdown of his own. Readers will find potent evidence of the bad blood and the actual social and psychological decadence that surrounded Lovecraft, and manifested darkly in all of his work.

Himself a product of repression and decay, readers will not be surprised to find Lovecraft's narrators obsessed with almost laughably phallic "Cyclopean" towers and monoliths, or with the pulpy, regenerate masses, globsters and blobs that comprise his otherworldly hierarchy. This hierarchy is crowned by Cthulhu, an ambiguously-sexed creature who symbolically blends both male and female elements: like Melville's fleshy squid, Cthulhu has a face full of dancing, probing, and semi-erect tentacles resting on a soft, amorphous body.

Cthulhu is Lovecraft's 20th century Gorgon, who freezes all of earthly existence in its stare.

Readers will notice that atavistic and incestuous themes abound: Lovecraft's mankind is continually slipping backward, via inbreeding and alien contamination, into cannibalistic rat and ape ('The Lurking Fear,' 'Arthur Jermyn,' 'Rats In The Walls'), or into gilled and web-limbed fish men ('Dagon,' 'The Call of Cthulhu,' 'Shadow Over Innsmouth').

Lovecraft, who was casually married and casually divorced within a few years, lived a short, grim, childless existence as far from one of Rockwell's homey scenarios as it was possible to get.

After completing 'The Call of Cthulhu,' most readers will not be surprised that Lovecraft died of intestinal cancer at the age of 47; for what were Lovecraft's oozing terrors but masses of uncontrollably reproducing cells, and concrete materializations of a tragic, disturbed, and victimizing unconscious?
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
deborah gowan
All men in the natural world feel the call from the vast infinite universe. What Lovecraft does is show mans insignificance. The creatures that he creates are so unexplainable and horrific that all aspects of mankind are completely overwhelmed. If you like big words and covert culture, this is the book for you.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
mostafa mohaddes
This is rather deceptively listed alongside the book and Audio cd with a similar name. The book and CD have 30 stories in them, this has 3. The stories are well told and I love lovecraft but I'm very upset that the store has this listed here and won't be buying another item because of it.
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