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The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories (Penguin Modern Classics) [Paperback]

H P Lovecraft , S T Joshi
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
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Book Description

25 July 2002 Penguin Modern Classics

Collecting uniquely uncanny tales from the master of American horror, H.P. Lovecraft's The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories is edited with an introduction and notes by S.T. Joshi in Penguin Modern Classics.

Credited with inventing the modern horror tradition, H.P. Lovecraft remade the genre in the early twentieth century. Discarding ghosts and witches, and instead envisaging mankind at the mercy of a chaotic and malevolent universe, Lovecraft's unique works would prove to be a huge influence on modern horror writers such as Stephen King. This selection of short stories ranges from early tales of nightmares and insanity such as 'The Outsider' and 'The Rats in the Walls' through the grotesquely comic 'Herbert West - Reanimator' and 'The Hound', to the extraterrestrial terror of 'The Call of Cthulhu', which fuses traditional supernaturalism with science fiction. Including the definitive corrected texts, this collection reveals the development of Lovecraft's mesmerising narrative style and establishes him as a hugely influential - and visionary - American writer.

Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890-1937), born in Providence, Rhode Island was self-educated and lived in his birthplace all his life, working as a freelance writer, journalist, and ghostwriter. Using many pen names, he contributed his supernatural/horror and science fiction/fantasy stories to various pulp magazines but his reputation as a writer rests mainly on the 60 or so stories he published in the pulp magazine Weird Tales starting in 1923.

If you enjoyed The Call of Cthulhu, you might also like Arthur Machen's The White People and Other Weird Stories, available in Penguin Classics.

'The twentieth century horror story's dark and baroque prince'

Stephen King

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The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories (Penguin Modern Classics) + The Thing on the Doorstep and Other Weird Stories (Penguin Modern Classics) + The King in Yellow (Tales of Mystery & the Supernatural)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (25 July 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141187069
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141187068
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 12.5 x 19 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 12,554 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


I think it is beyond doubt that H. P. Lovecraft has yet to be surpassed as the twentieth century's greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale (Stephen King ) --Stephen King

Reading Lovecraft is challenge enough, but listening to his work can be fraught with peril unless William Roberts is at the mike. Readers and listeners either love or hate Lovecraft, most commonly because of his complex language and near overwhelming sentence structure. Roberts takes on this challenge and delivers these short stories beautifully. He seems to have wrangled the leviathan that is Lovecraft s style and bullied it into submission. His delivery is engaging and dramatic. It shows that he has spent time with the text and understands the author s sometimes dizzying style. Best of all, he is able to communicate that understanding to the listener. Roberts s narration provides a perfect introduction for newcomers who are interested in Lovecraft s work but who are intimidated by his reputation. --A.H.A., AudioFile --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

About the Author

Born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1890, Lovecraft was self-educated and lived in his birthplace all his life, working as a freelance writer, journalist, and ghostwriter. Using many pen names, he contributed his supernatural/horror and science fiction/fantasy stories to various pulp magazines but his reputation as a writer rests mainly on the 60 or so stories he published in Weird Tales starting in 1923. He died in 1937.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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I am writing this under an appreciable mental strain, since by tonight I shall be no more. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
63 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent collection assembled by ST Joshi 29 April 2005
This volume contains the stories: Dagon, Randolph Carter, Arthur Jermyn, Celephais, Nyarlathotep, Picture in the House, Outsider, Herbert West, 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, as well as a fourteen page Introduction by Joshi (the foremost scholar on Lovecraft), a suggestion for further reading, a note on the text, and an extra sixty pages of explanatory notes.
This is an excellent collection of Lovecraft stories with a lot of interesting notation and material on his background, his childhood, his inspirations for each story, and various other pieces of fascinating information. It is also, in my opinion, the strongest of the three current Penguin collections of his work, containing as it does the superb Colour out of Space, Shadow over Innsmouth, and Call of Cthulhu (my favourite). Each story is annotated with numbered reference points which can be a bit distracting at first but doesn't really get in the way of your enjoyment of the stories, and provides fascinating insight into the use of certain words, the origins of characters' names, towns and events that influenced the plot, etc. In addition, each of these stories are the definitive editions compiled by Joshi himself, making this currently one of the best Lovecraft collections in the UK. Highly recommended.
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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovecraft achieves classic status at last 13 Aug 2000
By A Customer
This volume, in its own small, quiet way, is a momentous book. Momentous not for being necessarily the best collection of Lovecraft's stories (there are plenty of others to choose from) but because it marks the passage of Lovecraft's reputation from the genre ghetto to the broader realms of literature.
Consider this: Lovecraft's career ran parallel with that of Jon Dos Passos (Lovecraft was six years older). Dos Passos' first novel, 'Manhattan Transfer' was published in 1926, the same year as 'The Call of Cthulhu' made its debut appearance in the pulp magazine 'Weird Tales'. Yet while Dos Passos went on to achieve great acclaim for his subsequent novels, Lovecraft's writing remained ignored during his life outside a small group of enthusiastic magazine writers and readers. 'Cthulhu' when first published didn't even rate cover status in the magazine, that honour being granted to Elliot O'Donnell and some ridiculous piece of his called 'The Ghost Table'. At Lovecraft's early death in 1937 he was recognised as a modern master of the horror story by his friends but to the world outside he was invisible; no collections of his stories had been published, his work languished in the crumbling pages of the pulps.
Sixty years on, after the heroic efforts of August Derleth at Arkham House, who put his own money into publishing the first Lovecraft collections, Howard Phillips Lovecraft finally has his place in the sun (probably an inapt metaphor, he used to spend all day with the curtains drawn). The stories are in print all over the world, there's a growing body of critical writing about his work and spin-off items in the form of comics, games, films, music, etc. show how far his reputation has travelled.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic introduction to Lovecraft 9 Mar 2011
This selection of H.P. Lovecraft's shorter and longer stories is greatly benefitted by the choice of 'Dagon' as the opening story. I can still remember reading this astonishing piece of writing which compresses the very essence of Lovecraft's genius into just 6 glorious pages. Everything is there; the adjective-soaked prose which delightfully borders on the verbose, the horrific images of aquatic inter-stellar monsters and that indescribable sense of despair and madness.

My favourite story is 'The Shadow Over Insmouth' which is like an expanded version of 'Dagon'. I have re-read this one many times. There are many other great works in this selection besides these two including the truly terrifying 'The Colour Out Of Space' and 'Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family' which has a horrible twist at the end.

Not every story is a classic and some strike me as resembling other better Lovecraft stories too much. However, this drawback has a silver lining in that the reader can clearly see Lovecraft's obsession with a relatively small number of themes and, in my opinion, obsession has its own special brand of power that is not all bad.

This book is fantastic in that it gives the reader a substantial taste of Lovecraft's work while still leaving a good portion of his work to be discovered afterwards if desired. It is thoroughly recommended!
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First in an Amazing Series 29 May 2010
In a video interview I conducting with this book's editor, S. T. stated that he thought this was the very best of all of his editions of H. P. Lovecraft's tales, because of its selection. S. T. Joshi has spent the better part of his life bringing us H. P. Lovecraft's texts as Lovecraft wanted them preserved. We remember that, when Lovecraft first submitted his stories to Weird Tales, he wrote to the editor, "Should any miracle impel you to consider the publication of my tales, I have but one condition to offer: and that is that no excisions be made. If a tale cannot be printed as it is written, down to the very last semicolon and comma, it must gracefully accept rejection." This is from Lovecraft before he was selling regularly to a professional market; obviously, he had an artistic vision and wanted it preserved as he created it. S. T. Joshi has worked to correct the blunders and misreadings and (in some audacious instances) the rewriting of Lovecraft's tales, so that we now have his texts as close to his originals as is perhaps possible.

Lovecraft was a cautious writer, and his style is exactly what he wanted it to be. If he is at times extravagant, it is because he so chooses. Some people have moaned at the style of "The Hound," but it seems perfect for the tale being told. I love the story and do not want to believe, as S. T. seems to, that it was written as partial parody of Lovecraft's style. Lovecraft came to dismiss so much of what to me is his really fascinating work, such as "The Outsider" and "The Hound." The wonderful and intriguing thing about what has been called Lovecraft's "lesser" work is that these tales are still extremely interesting and effective.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly entertaining
This was my first taste of anything by H.P. Lovecraft, though I knew roughly of his work by reputation: a master of horror, a very American writer, with more than a hint of racism. Read more
Published 4 months ago by S. Meadows
5.0 out of 5 stars By a water fall I'm calling Cthulhu
For some reason this critter is a H.P. Lovecraft classic. I have ordered the 2005 movie. I kept waiting for the action and somehow it ended before it started. Read more
Published 12 months ago by bernie
5.0 out of 5 stars Well deserved status
An essential colelction for anyone who wants to get in to the Lovecraft mythos -- a unique style of horror that changed the entire genre.
Published 13 months ago by George Stephenson
5.0 out of 5 stars Naxos Audio CD Version
Great stories really brought to life by the gravelly voice of William Roberts - clear and exciting and not quite over the top. Read more
Published 16 months ago by neovia
3.0 out of 5 stars Overrated as a writer, but with some intriguing ideas.
I have read nearly the entire volume and looking back I find Lovecraft horrendously overblown in his writing, so that sometimes he seems on the verge of self-parody. Read more
Published 18 months ago by T. West
3.0 out of 5 stars The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories
H P Lovecraft responded to the increasing scientific knowledge of the universe - so infinitely more alien and hostile to life than previously imagined - by creating a mythology... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Pensato
5.0 out of 5 stars This is just...
Wonderful, If you're an aficionado of HPL's or a newcomer to his works then this will fulfil either in an audiobook form. Read more
Published on 15 Mar 2012 by Mr. G. Lee
5.0 out of 5 stars The Finest Edition You Can Own
There have been dozens if not hundreds of Lovecraft editions since the author's untimely death, and this is the one that I would recommend as definitive to either hardcore HP... Read more
Published on 19 Aug 2011 by David Ford
5.0 out of 5 stars The Call of Cthulhu
Having grown up with a brother into Cthulhu, this was an obvious buy.

If you've read any HP Lovecraft or have been lucky enough to get a copy of the HP Lovecraft... Read more
Published on 22 Dec 2010 by Andy
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely great!
I have been reading this book and I must say it is quite good. I still not finish it, because english is not my mother tongue. Read more
Published on 23 April 2010 by Jose Antonio Alvarez Ruiz
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