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on 14 December 2014
Amazing. Never read HP until this. Now a total fan. Too enervated to go on. Top stories :)
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on 11 December 2014
love scary stories you will love this
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on 4 July 2017
Love it a lot <3
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on 20 April 2007
Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890-1937) is a name synonomous with most horror fiction fans; and one can easily see why once one reading the first few sentences of his beautiful prose.

Most of the stories contained in this teriffic compilation are of 'short' veriety - with some noticeably lengthier. They deal with all sorts of strange beasts and ideas; from creepy old men in the backwoods of New England, Zombies, unseen ghouls and massive god-like monsters.

Of course, these stories would hold up without the assistance of explanatary notes which occuply the end of this particular volume; however, editor ST Joshi's notes complement these stories brillinatly, providing an interesting backstory on some of the more curious passages, and offer exhaustive information on the inspiration for the fiction.

Joshi's introduction is also excellent, offering a short biography of Lovecraft's brief and tragic life.

Even though Lovecraft's fiction has been collected in various other volumes for dacades, this (along with 'Thing on the Doorstep' and 'Dreams in the Witch House') is the difinative version of the stories collected in this volume, and it will offer hours of reading pleasure.
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on 23 March 2017
The person for whom this was a gift found it very enjoyable.
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on 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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on 21 August 2015
This seemed to be the best place to start when reading Lovecraft. It is the first of three collections of his work issued by Penguin, the later collections being 'The Thing on the Doorstep' and 'The Dreams at the Witch House'. These collections were all prepared by S.T. Joshi, and include useful and extensive notes by him. I had read some of these stories in the distant past; I was glad to read them again in this format, and intend to read some more in this series.
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on 9 March 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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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. They are very unusual and they have a kind of spell (over me, at least) that never fades, I return to them again and again.

I've been entranced with the figure of Nyarlathotep, to the point where I have just completed an entire book of tales concerning ye Crawling Chaos. The original prose poem of Lovecraft's concerning this enigmatic creature is in this book. Nyarlathotep is mentioned in future works, also collected here, such as the amazing and potent "The Rats in the Walls" and the fascinating "The Whisperer in Darkness." (This latter story has recently been filmed by the eldritch folks at The H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society, the same people who gave us the remarkable silent film version of "The Call of Cthulhu." Judging from the trasiler, their cinematic treatment of "The Whisperer in Darkness" will be absolutely faithful to Lovecraft's magnificent story!)

"The Haunter of the Dark" is my all-time favourite story by Lovecraft. I love its sense of Gothic mystery, the evocative church and its nameless history, and the queer fate of its protagonist. It has been said that Lovecraft, had he lived on, would have deserted Gothic horror absolutely and concentrated on writing tales of science fiction, but I find the idea absurd. This was his last completed story, and it is supernatural in the peculiar way that Lovecraft's work treats the supernatural. It is a story that really does haunt one. A superb recent cinematic treatment of the film was shown at last year's H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival -- a film called, strangely, PICKMAN'S MUSE.

This is a fine collection of H. P. Lovecraft's weird fiction, complete with a wonderful Introduction by S. T. Joshi and containing his annotations and notes for each tale. The three editions of Lovecraft's tales from Penguin are, for me, the very best editions of Lovecraft. S. T. Joshi feels that this is his very best single edition of Lovecraft's tales.
The Statement of Randolph Carter
Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family
The Picture in the House
The Outsider
Herbert West--Reanimator
The Hound
The Rats in the Walls
The Festival
Cool Air
The Call of Cthulhu
The Colour out of Space
The Whisperer in Darkness
The Shadow over Innsmouth
The Haunter of the Dark
[Explanatory Notes]
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on 3 March 2014
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. Is that what I found here? Sort of.

Given the various compilations of his work that have been put together, it’s worth noting that this particular collection contains the following stories: Dagon, The Statement of Randolph Carter, Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family, Celepaïs, Nyarlathotep, The Picture in the House, The Outsider, 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 and The Haunter of the Dark.

These are roughly in chronological order, which shows. The earlier stories here are relatively short and punchy while the later ones are better developed. Indeed, the accompanying notes raise a point I noticed in that some of the later stories appear to be revisions and expansions upon the earlier ones. For example, the Call of the Cthulhu is recognisable as an alternative take on Dagon; also, Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family seems to be the seed out which grew the longest story here, The Shadow Over Innsmouth.

Before reading, having heard that it was horror, I was expecting something either like a ghost story, like a James Herbert, or more gruesome, like Stephen King. It was neither. In this respect it was a pleasant surprise. That’s not to say that there isn’t some gruesomeness here, with Cool Air possibly topping the lot in that respect. The frustrating thing early on was that Lovecraft omitted the detail almost entirely, so we get descriptions like ‘[what I witnessed was too horrible to put to paper]’. It ought to be noted that most of the stories are written in the first person, with each central character speaking with roughly the same voice, making it seem as though Lovecraft was a single character going through one disastrous lifetime to another, being reincarnated multiple times.

What did strike me, however, was how alarmingly modern his writing was. Most of the stories here were written in the early 1920s, yet there is little here to indicate them as such; had someone told me they were written in the last 10 years, I would not have instantly thought the notion absurd. Indeed, his timeline is far closer to that of Thomas Hardy than it is to my own lifetime, but one could hardly guess at this. The biggest downside to his writing that I found was his predictability; almost every story had an ending that could be guessed fairly early on. The later stories were less predictably, though I don’t think I was ever particularly surprised. They are, however, very entertaining. Not a single one was a great struggle to read, though Lovecraft does, at times, stumble over his words slightly which makes it a little clunky. But that’s a relatively small criticism.

What about the supposition of racism? Well, there are some attitudes demonstrated here which do make for uncomfortable reading, and not in the good way that a horror writer might hope for. If anything, I would say it is most prevalent in Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family, though on reading the rather extensive notes at the back of the volume, the majority of the thinking about his views on race come out in his extensive letter writing which is not included here, except for small snippets of a few letters.

By some way, The Call of Cthulhu is the best story of the bunch. The other, later stories, are also good, though the grand scale which Lovecraft manages to evoke from fairly a small-scale start is very well done. The general mythology which he develops throughout the stories, with Cthulhu being alluded to later on, along with Nyarlathotep’s appearance in more than just the story bearing his name, make for almost an alternative world. Yet Lovecraft has not delved into the fantasy realms of Tolkein or Lewis. Rather, it’s a world just slightly different from ours, shifted by a tiny amount, where the monsters which be there always may now been heard or their shadows glimpsed.

And if you read The Rats in the Walls, it’s best not to then move to a new home where you can hear the water in the pipes of a night.
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