I love his work for the unconventional monsters (and general villains) that developed into their own mythos, his choices of adjectives, and how he writes a first-person narrative and epistolary stories.
Start perhaps with Pickman's Model, it's one of his shortest pieces that can be considered GREAT, it was the one that hooked me. From there do what others suggest and read Mountains of Madness, Call of Cthulhu, Dunwich Horror, and the Colour out of Space. And don't listen to the people saying he's an over rated racist, the racism part maybe true but don't let that influence your feelings toward his work.
Thanks you for the suggestion. And don't worry. I don't normally avoid things that people say are overrated. That's normally an incentive if anything because I normally find that 9 times out of 10 there's a damn good reason why. XD The racist stuff is surprising but sometimes I think you just have to accept something as a product of its time. Dickens is a good example of that...
I despise H.P. Lovecraft, as I do with all white supremacists. His Cthulhu Mythos is nothing but a metaphor of his xenophobia and blatant racism. In all my life, I have never read more racist and derogatory literature then that of H.P. Lovecraft.
Lovecraft's narrative voice is well versed and has this odd blend of Poe or Chambers with Lewis Carrol to build tension and give the atmosphere this wonderland or mundane gone wrong feel.
The Outsider' "Rats in the Walls' and 'The Colour Out of Space' are my favorites, 'The Mountains of Madness', is a mind boggling read, Nyralathotep is one of those stories and characters that play, nay, f*** with your mind and will not leave.
His dialogue is his weak point in writing (he knew this and does very little dialogue in any of his writing) it's very choppy, unnatural and just awkward no matter how you look at it.
It's probably not that hard/expensive to find some sort of collection of his works. My personal favourite stories are The Music of Erich Zann and The Colour out of Space. I didn't enjoy The Call of Cthulhu as much as I expected (kind of hard to live up to the hype though).
I myself enjoy his work because the man who wrote them fascinates me. I might enjoy a collection of his letters and essays more than I enjoy his fiction.
Funny you mention that, I just picked up a collection of his stories about a week ago I'd heard so much about him & like some things based on his stories, so I figured I should give him a read. His stuff's not bad on the whole. Of the stories I've read, my favourite so far was Call of Cthulhu. Haunter of the Dark and The Dunwich Horror were pretty good, and the Music of Erich Zann was interesting but slightly anticlimactic in the end. What I like about it is that he's good at building tension & atmosphere, and he's got a pretty good, fairly unique mythology going too.
That said, some of his stories are crap; it's like, everyone is so overwhelmed with oppressive, indescribably horrifying things all the time. It's like having the horror amplifier set to 11 for the whole story And I saw a few very anticlimactic and predictable endings as well. Also, this is more a personal preference, but I find his writing style a little annoying at times in its wordiness; sometimes I feel like he could write more concisely & it'd come across a bit better. But on the whole, it's been fairly good reading.
Thanks for that. It's interesting getting some info from someone who's fairly new to his writing. I haven't read any yet so I'm not really one to judge so the idea of having the horror amplified to 11 the whole story sound both really awesome and that it would get really old, really fast. Guess I'll have to wait and read for myself.
Haha, yeah, I heard a little about those Oddly enough I could identify with him to some degree on his depression at the thought of having to grow up... but I think I handled that a little better than he did.
Then again, I'm not the one considered an influential figure in modern horror writing....
Lovecraft is a cult author, basically. In life, he published his stories in magazines. He never got a widespread readership, but his small following (which included some big names like Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith and Robert Bloch) was fairly devoted. After he died, his friends decided to finally publish his stuff in book form. A bigger following spiraled from there. Lots of people working on film, literature, music, videogames and what have you have been influenced by Lovecraft. Big name writers like Stephen King, Clive Barker, Jorge Luis Borges, Neil Gaiman and countless others have written Lovecraftian fiction (or fan fiction, if you will).
His stories, namely his "mythos" stories, did revolve about indescribable things of horror, but the horror at the core of Lovecraft is easy to describe. As he put it himself in a letter: All my tales are based on the fundamental premise that common human laws and interests and emotions have no validity or significance in the vast cosmos-at-large. In Lovecraft's fiction, life on earth is a cosmic fluke. Our planet and everything in it, all our achievements and history are meaningless because we're just a little blue dot in space that could disappear tonight and the universe wouldn't even notice. The horror for Lovecraft's characters is not so much that they saw some creature they can't describe, or that said creature is evil (they're not, btw—morality does not apply because we have no idea what an alien lifeform would think or feel like; anything we assume is just us projecting our anthropocentric concerns onto them) but the realization they're powerless against it, and that they actually don't give a hoot about us. We're like ants to them. Sure, sometimes we crush ants, but generally we don't even think about them.
There's a number of collections out there. He wrote short stories and novellas, so typically the books have more than one story in them. This one [link] has a big and very good selection of stuff, and shouldn't be hard to find in bookstores if you don't want to order it online.
Thanks for the information. In all honesty, that doesn't sound too terrifying because that's...pretty much my belief system in a nut shell. You know they whole we're really very insignificant in the grand scheme of thing. But I'm guessing that actually reading it is more hitting than having someone describe it to you, yes?
Thank for the reference. I'll see if I can get a copy.
Well, that was really just the, let's say, philosophical framework of his work. His stories are horror or weird fiction, and I think he does a great job at instilling an atmosphere of doom and dread. Virtually all his stories are written in the first person in past tense, after the fact (the protagonists live through something, then write about it), and though he doesn't really do twist endings, most of his stories lead up to one moment of final terror. Sometimes to one last, single sentence that reveals the horror of what the narrator endured. So yeah, as far as horror goes, he's very effective even when he's not actually telling you what's going on because it's simply indescribable. For example, here's the opening of "The Call of Cthulthu", one of his most celebrated stories:
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, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, 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.