Your favorite Lovecraft stories

Discussion in 'H P Lovecraft' started by ravenus, Jun 2, 2004.

  1.  
    ravenus

    ravenus Heretic

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2004
    Messages:
    1,730
    Lovecraft is an author I have very mixed feelings about. He had doubtless a colossal imagination (and probably would have been an utter delight to speak with) but he was also often hampered by ham-handed prose, and his best stories are IMO where his imagination triumphs over his (lack of) writing skill.

    Here are my fav HPL tales:

    Shadows over Innsmouth (I think this was the most flawless of his works that i've read...fantastic build-up of atmosphere and almost none of the shrieky manner in which he normally describes his "unspeakably horrors" and "unimaginable terrors")

    At the Mountains of Madness (IMO one of his most ambitious works, fascinating the way he describes the history of the ancient ones, although the concept of his wanderers grasping all of it, just walking by friezes in the course of one day is rather contrived. Also his description of the desolate Antarctic landscape is awesome)

    Dreams in the Witch-House (very trippy story, a lot of the elements described separately would sound very silly to me, but they come together beautifully in this hallucinatory tale, perhaps the fact that I, like the protagonist, was nursing a fever when i first read it influences my liking of it)


    On an aside, I should say that The Dunwich Horror was one of the most disappointng stories I'd ever read. After all the HPL hype from people like King and Ligotti, I picked up this, one of hs most famous stories, and was horrified by what I consider its very pedestrian quality. There are other HPL stories I'm disappointed by but at least they weren't hyped like this one was.
  2.  
    Jayaprakash Satyamurthy

    Jayaprakash Satyamurthy Knivesout no more

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2003
    Messages:
    4,075
    For all Ravenus's grumpy caveats, the truth is I've found he likes HPL nearly as much as I do. Although we differ on most details - Dreams in the Witch House seemed to be a rather weak tale to me, while The Dunwich Horror is one of my favourites. :)
  3.  
    Brian Turner

    Brian Turner Brian G. Turner Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2002
    Messages:
    11,354
    I've never really had a problem with Lovecraft's style of writing, as essentially it's written to create atmosphere, rather than a clear literary prose - I guess in that way it's more orientated towards oral storytelling. I liked it when I really immersed myself in it at 18, though no doubt I should have a different opinion now. :)

    My absolute favourite is the "Color out of Space" - the inability for anyone in the story to comprehend what is happening to them is, to me, perfect horror - the fear of the unknown, and an unknown that remains unknown. That story defines what horror should be, in my mind. I'm especially spooked by the way he uses issues of nuclear radiation and contamination in a 19th century setting - makes it all the more haunting to myself.

    A lot of his longer stories were pretty good - I quite enjoyed the "Dunwich Horror", "Haunter of the Dark", "Thing on the Doorstep", etc. Basically, the third volume of his work that was released here in the UK.

    I really liked a lot of his short stories, though - The Outsider was always a fave, and the one I always forget the name of about someone trapped on a doomed U-Boat drifting through R'lyeh. And the haunting sadness of "Quest of Iranon".

    I never really warmed to his DreamQuest stories - Kadath, etc, though perhaps I'd appreciate them more now.

    As for most disappointing story - I would probably have to suggest "Call of Cthulhu" itself to that, though perhaps my sense of expectation of that story was just a little too high.
  4.  
    polymorphikos

    polymorphikos Scrofulous Fig-Merchant

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2003
    Messages:
    1,117
    "Celephais" is one of my favourites. I'm a sucker for the "make-your-own Heaven" genre, and it has a lovely, bitter-sweet ring to it. Also thoroughly enjoyed "The Beast in the Cave", because of its disturbing atmosphere and plausibility.
  5.  
    RZD

    RZD bud nipper

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2004
    Messages:
    26
    "The Thing On The Doorstep" is one of my favorites. I even wrote a song called "Asenath."
    I also liked "The Whisperer In Darkness."

    I would love to take on The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath.

    "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" was the first I ever read, and it still strikes a chord with me. The concept of horrible creatures from the sea invading port towns, breeding with humans . . . it's enthralling.

    I'll admit that Lovecraft's style is slow and sparse. I like it. Lovecraft was a methodical writer.
  6.  
    Brian Turner

    Brian Turner Brian G. Turner Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2002
    Messages:
    11,354
    There was always something somehow very believable about Shadow over Innsmouth. :)
  7.  
    Foxbat

    Foxbat I am a number

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2003
    Messages:
    4,832
    I'm just beginning my foray into HPL's stories but, so far, my favourite is
    The Rats In The Walls. It reminds me very much of Edgar Allen Poe and perhaps that is partly why it appeals to me.

    The paranoia of the main character and his slow drive to madness is very reminiscent of The Tell Tale Heart.

    Come to think of it, perhaps it's reading these stories that has caused my recent bout of insomnia :eek:
  8.  
    Circus Cranium

    Circus Cranium New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2004
    Messages:
    467
    I agree that he can get clunky, but the imagination more than makes up for it. Makes an interesting point....would you rather read perfect writing but flat story, or writing with a bit of clunk, and full of imagination?
  9.  
    Jayaprakash Satyamurthy

    Jayaprakash Satyamurthy Knivesout no more

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2003
    Messages:
    4,075
    A bit of clunk and full of imagination, if I'm forced to choose.
  10.  
    Tsujigiri

    Tsujigiri Waiting at the Crossroads

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2005
    Messages:
    961
    The Mountain of Madness has to be one of my favourites. I actually heard it as a Radio Show as a child while I was trying to sleep.....unsurprisingly I didn't get much sleep that night.
    It has remained my favourite of his stories since I have read it. I'm still fascinated by any horror involving Ice, 'The Thing' griopped me for similar reasons.
  11.  
    shaggydog

    shaggydog soy la muerte y te quiero

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2005
    Messages:
    76
    I liked the Charles Dexter Ward story... it was my initiation to HP, and I enjoyed it a lot!
    The mountains of madness was good too, but it was not a new thing so it didn't shock me as the Charles dexter...
  12.  
    Brian Turner

    Brian Turner Brian G. Turner Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2002
    Messages:
    11,354
    What I really liked about Mountains of Madness is that it had a sense of believability to it. No cliche - just real horror of discovery. It could make a decent film, presuming it was kept well away from Hollywood, marketers, and anyone else with an interest in cliche and satisfying the "lowest common denominator". :)
  13.  
    fungi from Yuggoth

    fungi from Yuggoth bzzzzbzzzz

    Joined:
    May 5, 2005
    Messages:
    86
    POSSIBLE SPOILERS

    Call of Cthulhu My first Lovecraft story, and one of the most perfect short stories I've ever read. The opening paragraph is burned into my memory! Beyond that, it is exceedingly well paced, brilliantly conceived and tremendously atmospheric. It's pure vintage Lovecraft with none of the overwritten verbousness that often characterized his longer works. The narrative style via the three stories brought together from around the world works to bring a global perspective to the menace of R'lyeh whilst retaining the close intimacy of his first person narration. The was the story that got me into Lovecraft.

    At the Mountains of Madness Lovecraft's greatest novella, and possibly some of the finest descriptive prose I've ever read. The superbly realized setting, the gradually mounting sense of fear and alienation in a world that is rapidly becoming more and more detached from the world we know, the unparalleled desolation and utter strangeness of the city. It's truly incredible how Lovecraft managed to conjure up such stunning and accurate pictures of the Antarctic just from a series of paintings (Roerich). The ending still sends shivers down my spine.

    Nameless City One of the finest of Lovecraft's short stories. I think this one works so well simply because we never really get any backstory or information on the narrator or the setting; we're simply plunged straight in. It also contains some of his best visions of plunges into dream-like abysses and shadowy cities. Lovecraft returned to this staple time and again, but never more succinctly.
  14.  
    ravenus

    ravenus Heretic

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2004
    Messages:
    1,730
    Ah I didn't know that, very interesting trivia. Must check out Nameless City, sounds great from your description/
  15.  
    fungi from Yuggoth

    fungi from Yuggoth bzzzzbzzzz

    Joined:
    May 5, 2005
    Messages:
    86
    Please let me know what you think when you do.
  16.  
    Brian Turner

    Brian Turner Brian G. Turner Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2002
    Messages:
    11,354
    Refresh my memory - which one was Nameless City? Hints are fine if you'd rather avoid spoilers. :)
  17.  
    GOLLUM

    GOLLUM Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2005
    Messages:
    8,807
    Hi all!:D


    You'll be happy to hear I won’t mention this again but in case you missed it I posted a bio on Lovecraft at the following link.

    http://www.chronicles-network.net/forum/showthread.php?t=5008&page=6&pp=15

    Now you may be interested in the following that provides a link to a number of horror writer's short stories including Lovecraft. The site aims to provide free downloadable text versions of classic short stories in the horror genre. It's quite a treasure of information; you could easily spend months going through all the stories they have posted here including some earlier works "The Alchemist" and "The Beast In The Cave".

    Sorry if this site has already been posted by other than moi…:confused:


    http://www.classichorrorstories.com/stories.html

    BTW my favorite Lovecraft stories that I’ve had a chance to revisit are:

    At The Mountains Of Madness
    Shadows Over Innsmouth
    Rats In The Walls
    The Case of Charles Dexter Ward
    The Color out of Space
    The Call of Cthulhu
    Dagon
    The Whisperer in Darkness
    The Shadow Out of Time
    The Horror at Red Hook
    The Nameless City
    The Dunwich Horror

    Enjoy!!:D
  18.  
    GOLLUM

    GOLLUM Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2005
    Messages:
    8,807
    Foxbat,


    I’m not surprised that you find his works, especially the early ones to be Poe-like as this was his main literary idol in his younger years, first reading his work by age 8.

    I’m currently reading the works of Poe I got for a song at a local booksale. It’s interesting to see how much of an influence Poe was.

    Over and out…:D
  19.  
    GOLLUM

    GOLLUM Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2005
    Messages:
    8,807
    Brian,
    There's a free text version of this story in the horror short story link I posted above. Not a long read.

    Bye..:D
  20.  
    fungi from Yuggoth

    fungi from Yuggoth bzzzzbzzzz

    Joined:
    May 5, 2005
    Messages:
    86
    Nameless City was one of HPL's earlier works, something of a precursor to Mountains of Madness. It's short - about 5000 words - and not widely known as one of his best, but I love it nonethless. The plot is somewhat vague - man hunts for ruins of an ancient city, follows a whistling wind, is lead to nameless doom, the standard stuff - but it's precicesly this ethereal dreamlike tone that makes it all the more effective. The Dunsany influence is quite obvious, but unlike his pure Dunsanian pieces (Kadath, Sarnath, etc) here Lovecraft eschewed the fantasy for the darker, more personal tone that was to become his trademark.

    As I've said, it's a precursor to the ruined city stories that would later form the basis for Mountains of Madness and Shadow out of Time. But whereas those pieces tended to feel (at their base) rooted in our world and its rules, here the very brevity and vagueness work perfectly. It is a glimpse into nightmare.

    Sure, there are more accomplished works in the Lovecraft library. There are better written works, more original works; but there are few which have stuck with me as this one has.

Share This Page