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Which Stories Fit Into The Mythos...?

UnderTheOath

Minister For Magic
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#1
Sorry if there are threads on this already, but...

I wanna read more Lovecraft!

I've read some of his other stories, non-Cthulhu ones, and they just don't appeal to me as much. So basically what I want to know is, which Lovecraft stories are part of the Cthulhu Mythos?
 
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#2
Sorry if there are threads on this already, but...

I wanna read more Lovecraft!

I've read some of his other stories, non-Cthulhu ones, and they just don't appeal to me as much. So basically what I want to know is, which Lovecraft stories are part of the Cthulhu Mythos?
Weeeeeellllll.... that's opening something of a can of worms, I'm afraid. Briefly, Lovecraft himself never used the term, didn't have such a concept in mind. It is largely the creation of August Derleth, who began to set aside certain stories into such a category, to which he gave that name. Most of Lovecraft's works are interrelated; a few stand quite outside the others ("The Tomb", for example), but nearly everything ties together thematically or philosophically, in one way or another.

However... there are stories which use the elements that have come to be known as the Cthulhu Mythos more strongly than other stories, and these may (perhaps) be more what you're interested in looking at. Even here, though, there is strong disagreement as to which "belong" and which don't. (Many don't include The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, for instance, which has obvious links to the other "Mythos" tales, while including "The Colour Out of Space", where there are no mentions of the Mythos paraphernalia... yet the latter is, in some ways, more truly of the Mythos' ideas than perhaps any other story.)

So... keeping that in mind, I will attempt to construct a list of tales (in chronological order, so you can see the themes and connections developing -- with the exceptions of "The Silver Key" and Dream-Quest, one of which was written while he was also working on the other, thus making such a much more complicated thing) that utilize these readily identifiable items or very strongly use these themes (such as "Colour Out of Space"). I doubt that anyone is going to quite agree with me on this, and I hesitate to undertake it myself, as I see much more of a unity in the entirety of Lovecraft's work (fiction and nonfiction)... but I'll give it a go, in the hopes that such a list may: a) be at least something akin to what you're looking for; and b) that, by reading these (and, it is to be hoped, enjoying them), you may find yourself able to also enjoy (or at least better appreciate) those other tales of his which you are currently unable to connect to. (Oh, and I'm going to include some poetry, as well, as there are elements of the Mythos both as developed -- using the "definition" I give above -- by Lovecraft and by others since, which originated with the verse, and where the verse itself is necessary to an understanding of the reference. I will also include certain tales by others which, whether or not originally connected to the concept, later became subsumed into it via references by Lovecraft or are so intimately tied to the Mythos as it is known now that they are sort of "sacred texts", if you will.) Oh, my... this one is gonna take a while....:eek:

So, without further rambling ado....
 
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#3
Okay... here goes:

(I will be including his "Dunsanian" tales because, despite not often directly using the Mythos paraphernalia, they came to be extremely closely intertwined with the Mythos, either through Lovecraft's mention of things from the earlier tales in his later work, or through the adoption of them into the Mythos by others. Ditto with the Randolph Carter tales....)

"Dagon" (1917)
"Nemesis" (verse) (1 November 1917; included for adumbration of themes and ideas later explored in the Mythos)
"Astrophobos" (verse) (ca. 25 November; ditto)
"Polaris" (1918)
"A Cycle of Verse: Oceanus, Clouds, Mother Earth" (November-December 1918; it has been argued that many of the motifs, and some of the basic ideas, of the Mythos see expression here -- I'm tempted to agree)
"The White Ship" (Nov. 1919)
"The Nightmare Lake" (verse) (December 1919; I include it as, in some ways, almost a verse version of the following story....)
"The Doom That Came to Sarnath" (3 Dec. 1919)
"The Statement of Randolph Carter" (December 1919)
"The Terrible Old Man" (28 January 1920)
"The Cats of Ulthar" (15 June 1920)
"Celephaïs" (early Nov. 1920)
"Nyarlathotep" (early December 1920)
"The Nameless City" (January 1921)
"The Quest of Iranon" (28 February 1921)
"The Other Gods" (14 August 1921)
"Azathoth" (fragment) (June 1922; first mention of the name)
"The Hound" (September 1922)
"The Rats in the Walls" (August-September 1923)
"The Unnamable" (September 1923)
The Festival (1923)
"The Call of Cthulhu" (Summer 1926)
"Pickman's Model" (1926)
"The Strange High House in the Mist" (9 November 1926)
The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath (late 1926-22 January 1927)
"The Silver Key" (ca. Nov.? 1926)
The Case of Charles Dexter Ward (January-1 March 1927; included not only for the -- very vague -- mention of "Yog-Sothoth", the first such in his work, but for links to his themes and concepts in later work)
"The Colour Out of Space" (March 1927)
"The Very Old Folk" (2 November 1927; dream-account, from a letter; a very similar passage later incorporated into F. B. Long's The Horror from the Hills)
"The Last Test" (revised for Adolphe de Castro; 1927; included for various hints of the Mythos)
"History of the Necronomicon" (1927)
"The Space-Eaters", by Frank Belknap Long (ca. Autumn 1927)
"The Hounds of Tindalos", by Frank Belknap Long (pub. March 1928)
"The Curse of Yig" (revised -- read: ghost-written -- for Zealia Bishop; 1928)
"The Dunwich Horror" (Summer 1928)
"The Electric Executioner" (revised for Adolphe de Castro; ca. 1929; Mythos combined with Mesoamerican mythology, though largely tongue-in-cheek)
"The Tale of Satampra Zeiros", by Clark Ashton Smith (16 November 1929)
"The Outpost" (verse) (26 November 1929)
The Horror from the Hills, by Frank Belknap Long (1929)
Fungi from Yuggoth (verse; sonnet cycle) (27 December 1929-4 January 1930)
"The Mound" (revised -- see above -- for Zealia Bishop; December 1929-early 1930)
"Medusa's Coil" (ditto; May 1930)
"The Door to Saturn", by Clark Ashton Smith (26 July 1930)
"The Whisperer in Darkness" (24 February-26 September 1930)
"The Return of the Sorcerer", by Clark Ashton Smith (6 January 1931)
"The Testament of Athammaus", by Clark Ashton Smith (22 February 1931)
At the Mountains of Madness (February-22 March 1931)
"The Black Stone", by Robert E. Howard (pub. November 1931)
"The Nameless Offspring", by Clark Ashton Smith (12 November 1931)
"The Shadow Over Innsmouth" (November?-3 December 1931)
"The Dreams in the Witch House" (January-28 February 1932)
"The Thing on the Roof", by Robert E. Howard (pub. February 1932)
"The Tree-Men of M'Bwa", by Donald Wandrei (pub. February 1932)
"Ubbo-Sathla", by Clark Ashton Smith (15 February 1932)
"The People of the Dark", by Robert E. Howard (pub. June 1932)
"Lair of the Star-Spawn", by August Derleth and Mark Schorer (pub. August 1932 [written summer 1931?]; Lovecraft provided the title for this one, and this is where the Mythos as it is viewed today begins to take form, with the battle between the Elder Gods and the Old Ones)
"When Chaugnar Wakes", by Frank Belknap Long (verse) (pub. September 1932)
"The Man of Stone" (revised -- see note on Zealia Bishop above -- for Hazel Heald; 1932)
"The Horror in the Museum" (ditto; October 1932)
"Worms of the Earth", by Robert E. Howard (pub. November 1932)
"Through the Gates of the Silver Key" (with E. Hoffmann Price; October 1932-April 1933)
"The Thing That Walked on the Wind", by August Derleth (pub. January 1933)
"Winged Death" (revised -- see above -- for Hazel Heald; 1933)
"Out of the Aeons" (ditto; 1933)
"The Thing on the Doorstep" (21-24 August 1933)
"The Coming of the White Worm", by Clark Ashton Smith (15 September 1933)
"The House of the Worm", by Mearle Prout (pub. October 1931)
"The Book" (fragment) (ca. late 1933)
"The Lady in Gray", by Donald Wandrei (pub. December 1933; loosely related to the Mythos)
"The Shadow Out of Time" (November 1934-March 1935)
"The Secret of the Tomb", by Robert Bloch (pub. Mar. 1935)
"The Suicide in the Study", by Robert Bloch (pub. June 1935)
"The Challenge from Beyond" (with C. L. Moore, A. Merritt, Robert E. Howard, and Frank Belknap Long; August 1935)
"The Shambler from the Stars", by Robert Bloch (pub. September 1935; HPL wrote a response to this one, "The Haunter of the Dark", to which Bloch in turn replied some years later with "The Shadow from the Steeple")
"The Warder of Knowledge", by Richard F. Searight (c. September-October 1935; member of the Lovecraft circle, Lovecraft read and had input on this addition to the set)
"The Diary of Alonzo Typer" (revised for William Lumley; October 1935)
"The Haunter of the Dark" (November 1935)

After this point, HPL was no longer writing any fiction that "belongs" to the Mythos, though he had read (and had input on) several remaining stories by Robert Bloch (collected together in Mysteries of the Worm), Henry Kuttner (collected together in The Book of Iod), etc., etc., etc. It was after Lovecraft's death that the majority of Derleth's stories -- which are really what gave shape to what was to become known as the Mythos -- were published: "Spawn of the Maelstrom", with Mark Schorer (written around the same time as the previous entry); "The Horror from the Depths" (ditto); "The Sandwin Compact", "Beyond the Threshold", "Dwellers in Darkness", "The Trail of Cthulhu", etc.; not to mention those "posthumous collaborations" where he took fragments or notes from HPL and wrote the rest himself: The Lurker at the Threshold, "The Watcher from the Sky", "Something in Wood", "The Whipporwills in the Hills", etc., which only ended with his death and the unfinished "The Watchers Out of Time"....

I may have missed a few by other writers during HPL's lifetime -- it was a hurried list cobbled from several sets of notes from over the years -- but the bulk of it is there. (I did not leave out anything from HPL that I can think of, however.)

A further note on some by other writers: HPL's mention of certain things created by other writers, by pulling those items into what became the Mythos (with Lovecraft, it was more a case of weaving a net of allusions, or coloring, rather than creating a genuine series or "mythos" per se), ended up leaving things open enough that several series by others can be said to be at least connected to the Mythos: Howard's Kull, Conan, and Bran Mak Morn tales (especially the latter, and "The Shadow Kingdom" of Kull); Kuttner's "Elak of Atlantis" stories; Smith's "Hyperborea", "Poseidonis", "Averoigne", and "Zothique" cycles; etc., etc., etc.
 

UnderTheOath

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#4
Ok, JD, you sir are a legend!

Thank you very much, that'll help me heaps. Now, I was wondering, could "The Music of Erich Zahn" technically be considered a part of the mythos? I mean, it all depends on what was written on those sheets of paper, right...?
 
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#5
Ok, JD, you sir are a legend!

Thank you very much, that'll help me heaps. Now, I was wondering, could "The Music of Erich Zahn" technically be considered a part of the mythos? I mean, it all depends on what was written on those sheets of paper, right...?
LOL... No, not a legend... merely terribly obsessed.:D

Well, my own take on it is that it certainly fits everything except for specifically linking itself to... but I nonetheless agree that it's as close as "The Colour Out of Space"....

Incidentally, James Wade wrote a piece titled "The Silence of Erika Zann", which was published in Edward P. Berglund's anthology, The Disciples of Cthulhu, of which there has been a second, revised edition.

OFF THE SHELF : The Disciples of Cthulhu - Second Revised Edition : Legends Magazine, Issue 100

(Wade published a small handful of Mythos tales, such as "The Deep Ones" in the original edition of Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos -- a tale I've always found oddly appealing, despite its flaws....)

You might find the following of some interest:

Cthulhu Mythos anthology - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

For that matter, there are other tales by HPL that could be considered as part of the Mythos, at least by stretching it a bit: "The Crawling Chaos" (written with "Elizabeth Neville Berkeley" -- a.k.a. Winifred Virginia Jackson) could almost be seen as an alternate, dream-version of "Nyarlathotep" in theme, as well as a manifestation of that particular entity; while "The Green Meadow" (also written with Jackson) mentions the land of Stethelos, later mentioned as one of the lands visited by Iranon in "The Quest of Iranon", so perhaps part of the Mythos' milieu by association....
 
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UnderTheOath

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#6
I have a folder that I put print-outs of various Lovecraft (and now other authors too) tales in, since my library doesn't have any of the anthologies. So I'm going through each of those stories on your list in turn. Pretty sure this is legal in my country, Australia, provided I don't use it for my own profit, yes?
 
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#7
I have a folder that I put print-outs of various Lovecraft (and now other authors too) tales in, since my library doesn't have any of the anthologies. So I'm going through each of those stories on your list in turn. Pretty sure this is legal in my country, Australia, provided I don't use it for my own profit, yes?
Lovecraft is now P.D. as I recall, but when it comes to some of the other writers (such as Smith, for example), the stuff may not be. So I would do what I can to be be certain on how the law stands, when it comes to reproduction of a work.
 

brsrkrkomdy

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#8
There are several other writers who write one or two or more their share of the so-called "Cthulhu Mythos". I've read somewhere Lovecraft himself called most of his stories "Cthulhu Cycles" which made a lot more sense than Derleth's.

Here are some outside the Lovecraft circle:

Ramsey Campbell
Brian Lumley
Fritz Leiber
Manly Wade Wellman
Karl Edward Wagner
David Drake
Galad Elflandsson
Fred Chappell
Thomas Ligotti
Colin Wilson
Harlan Ellison
Neal Gaiman
Paul Finch
Joseph Payne Brennan
Lin Carter (although his poetry was mediocre IMHO.)

From the Lovecraft Circle:

Frank Belknap Long
Robert Bloch
August Derleth
Donald Wandrei
Henry Kuttner
Robert E. Howard
Clark Ashton Smith

Influences on Lovecraft:

Robert W. Chambers
William Hope Hodgson
Algernon Blackwood
M.R. James
Arthur Machen
Lord Dunsany
Erckman & Chatrian
J.S. LeFanu

Sorry about adding a little too much. Couldn't resist. :D
 
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#10
There are several other writers who write one or two or more their share of the so-called "Cthulhu Mythos". I've read somewhere Lovecraft himself called most of his stories "Cthulhu Cycles" which made a lot more sense than Derleth's.
Actually, Lovecraft never used any title for a set of tales with "Cthulhu" as part of that title. He did, at one point (with tongue firmly in cheek) call such "Yog-Sothothery", and at another he referred to a tale as part of his "Arkham cycle", indicating he saw those set in Arkham country as particularly related -- not surprisingly, for someone who was intensely aware his physical surroundings and as attached to a particular region as a cat, it is through association with topology rather than theme or mytheme that he makes such an association.

Here are some outside the Lovecraft circle:

Ramsey Campbell
Brian Lumley
Fritz Leiber
Manly Wade Wellman
Karl Edward Wagner
David Drake
Galad Elflandsson
Fred Chappell
Thomas Ligotti
Colin Wilson
Harlan Ellison
Neal Gaiman
Paul Finch
Joseph Payne Brennan
Lin Carter (although his poetry was mediocre IMHO.)
Well, to be honest, Leiber can be counted as a member of the Lovecraft Circle, as he was not only a correspondent of HPL's, but got feedback on some of his early work from him. (The early version of "Adept's Gambit", for instance, included Cthulhuvian connections. Leiber --wisely, I think --decided to delete these from all published versions.) Not read any of Galad Elflandsson, though... could you give me some titles?

Influences on Lovecraft:

Robert W. Chambers
William Hope Hodgson
Algernon Blackwood
M.R. James
Arthur Machen
Lord Dunsany
Erckman & Chatrian
J.S. LeFanu
While Erckman-Chatrian did influence him to some degree, it's very dubious that Le Fanu did. Lovecraft expressed little but disinterest in Le Fanu's work -- possibly because so little of it was available at the time, and he may not have found any tales which would interest him. Then again, Le Fanu's dealing with "traditional" ghosts -- at least on the surface --may have been the factor, as Lovecraft found the typical spectral tale, especially featuring human specters, to be rather trite. This is a pity, as Le Fanu wrote some of the best ghost stories in the English language, and with concepts involved that one would think would have caught at Lovecraft's imagination. Perhaps it was simply a combination of the two factors....

The influence of Hodgson, though, is also rather doubtful, as he did not read Hodgson's work until 1934, by which time his fictional career was nearly over; and there are no notable Hodgson influences on the few remaining tales he did write....
 

Ningauble

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#11
I have a list of all the Cthulhuvian titles which I have in my collection -- novels, stories, poems, Lovecraftian letters mentioning Cthulhuvian critters (I follow Chris Jarocha-Ernst's rules for what is and isn't in the Mythos) -- and it's 43 pages long and contains 1218 titles. I haven't updated it for two years, though, so add another 100 or so to that number.

As j.d. has said, what is and isn't Mythos is debatable -- put twelve "Mythos experts" in a room and you'll get at least thirteen different answers out of them.

Lin Carter made a list of what he considered to be the Cthulhu Mythos back in 1971; I started to type it out, but it's got 119 items on it so I gave up. Carter, however, took a pretty strict view of these things, so he counted only 14 things by Lovecraft as Cthulhuvian. In his list he has the following people

* H. P. Lovecraft
* C. L. Moore, A. Merritt, H. P. Lovecraft, Frank Belknap Long & Robert E. Howard
* H. P. Lovecraft & August Derleth
* Zealia Bishop & H. P. Lovecraft
* Hazel Heald & H. P. Lovecraft
* William Lumley & H. P. Lovecraft
* Frank Belknap Long
* Robert E. Howard
* Clark Ashton Smith
* August Derleth & Mark Schorer
* August Derleth
* Robert Bloch
* Henry Hasse
* Henry Kuttner
* Ramsey Campbell
* J. Vernon Shea
* Brian Lumley
* James Wade
* Colin Wilson
* Gary Myers
* Lin Carter
 

UnderTheOath

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#12
Just another quick question for JD, who included 'The Quest Of Iranon' in his list.

I don't see that particular story as fitting into the 'mythos' at all. How did you justify that?
 
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#15
As I noted earlier, I included the Dunsanian fantasies because HPL blended the two milieus together in various stories, from At the Mountains of Madness, where the tableland is supposed to be the original (or perhaps the "waking world") version of the plateau of Leng, which plays such a heavy role in his fantasies, not to mention him locating Kadath behind those other mountains which even the Old Ones feared. In other words, he was blurring the lines between the dreamworld of The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath and the "real world" of modern reality.

This is something Lovecraft did throughout his fiction. Leng, for instance, makes an appearance in "The Hound", as well; various locations, beings, and events from the Dunsanian tales crop up abundantly through the "Mythos" tales, linking them in subtle ways (but often very important in the way they alter the reading of the "Mythos" tale itself). "The Dunwich Horror", with its passage from the Necronomicon, is full of such, making it evident there is no real distinction between the two. Yog-Sothoth plays a major role in "Through the Gates of the Silver Key", a part of the Randolph Carter cycle; as does Nyarlathotep in Dream-Quest. And so on.

In fact, I would argue that one cannot truly "get" the vast implications of At the Mountains of Madness if they haven't read Dream-Quest. You can enjoy the story, get a pleasant chill from it, and even get some of the implications, but the true scope of it is likely to escape one unless familiar with both.

This is why I am reluctant to separate Lovecraft's "Mythos" and "non-Mythos" tales ... because I've become convinced over the years that such a distinction is nonexistent; it is useful only in a very, very limited sense, when studying which tales hold the paraphernalia "belonging" to the Mythos -- but, as Lovecraft himself used terms, ideas, and relationships from "Mythos" and "non-Mythos" tales freely between the two, quite often in such a way that it is plain they are part of the same "world", then in any other sense, such a division is entirely artificial and, in fact, prevents one from getting the full impact of his tales.

As for "Iranon" specifically -- because of various connections of the same sort -- the entire milieu being among them, placing it in the same "cosmos" as the other tales, and a part of the "history" the Mythos calls on.
 

UnderTheOath

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#16
^^^ Yes, I just realized that Iranon has references to Sarnath. Yep, I can see how that fits in now. I agree with you, (and yes, I am a Lovecraft noob, but don't hold it against me) however, there are some stories that clearly have no relationship whatsoever to what you don't like referring to as the 'mythos'. The Tomb, for instance and The Outsider, neither of which had that big of an impact on me anyway, but still.
 

Ningauble

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#17
^^^ Yes, I just realized that Iranon has references to Sarnath. Yep, I can see how that fits in now. I agree with you, (and yes, I am a Lovecraft noob, but don't hold it against me) however, there are some stories that clearly have no relationship whatsoever to what you don't like referring to as the 'mythos'. The Tomb, for instance and The Outsider, neither of which had that big of an impact on me anyway, but still.
I beg to disagree with reference to "The Outsider". It mentions Nephren-Ka, who is also mentioned in "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward" and "The haunter of the Dark". And it mentions ghouls, too.
 
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#19
Errrmmm... well.... again, nearly all of Lovecraft's work ties in at least thematically with the ideas and concepts of the Mythos. "The Tomb" is very strongly tied to such. In fact, in a little piece I've put together, I've noted that it shadows forth much of what Lovecraft would deal with throughout the rest of his career. It's a very subtle story -- much more so than at first appears, and works on several levels. But among the strongest are those of (to use Donald Burleson's phrase) "illusory surface appearances" (reality vs. a super-reality; albeit not quite in the way Burleson may have meant it, nonetheless very closely related) and of the inescapabilty of the past -- the fact that the past can reach forth into the present (or the future) and swallow it (whether it be the unfortunate individual in question, or the entire human race). This, again, is at least closely allied (though in this case without the cosmic implications) to what Burleson called the "theme of unwholesome survival".

I agree entirely with Joshi's statement that, in this story, Lovecraft expends more effort than perhaps in any other tale to make one doubt the narrator's perceptions -- yet he also spends an equal amount of effort casting doubt on that doubt, as it were; keeping alive the possibility that Jervas Dudley's tale is at least largely true. If so, then we are left not only with the possibilities surrounding Jervas Hyde, but also those other perceptions of a "super-reality" that Dudley mentions -- things that tie closely into Lovecraft's use of sentience or near-sentience in Nature (another part of the Mythos -- cf. "The Colour Out of Space", "The Whisperer in Darkness", etc.) There's a lot going on in that story, mostly just beneath the surface, and I would argue that it is both a very undervalued and very subte story in many ways. (Here I'm also echoing -- though I only had the chance to actually read the essay this weekend -- William Fulwiler in his essay "'The Tomb' and 'Dagon': A Double Dissection", while I've been maintaining this stance for some time. *sigh* It's a bit frustrating repeating someone else's thoughts without even having been aware of them!)

At any rate -- again, this is why I am so reluctant to set off a set of stories as Mythos and others as non-Mythos: there really is no such distinction, save where it may apply to speficically naming things used in other tales -- but there are distinctly Mythos tales which do not name a single place, entity, or book that are named elsewhere, so even that is a very shaky proceeding. Essentially, each reader will decide for him- or herself what is and is not "Mythos", if they care for the term... and that list may well change from reading to reading....
 
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#20
Incidentally, just as a point of clarification about my previous post: the term "super-reality" is something of a misnomer; Joshi's "supra-reality" is much more on the mark -- and I would highly recommend his Primal Sources: Essays on H. P. Lovecraft, to anyone interested in some thought-provoking insights into the Old Gent and his writings....

Primal Sources: Essays on H. P. Lovecraft - Hippocampus Press
 

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