The Hound

  1. Window Bar

    Window Bar "We Read for Light"

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2009
    Messages:
    71
    Location:
    A Creative Writing major while in university, I ac
    I'm a raw beginner here, having just finished The Hound & The Call of Cthulhu. Lovecraft understood us and our fears: Death, otherworldliness, darkness...

    It's time to read more, I'm afraid (pun intended).
     
    Nov 26, 2009
    #1
  2. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator

    Joined:
    May 9, 2006
    Messages:
    13,883
    Oh, my! Those are two very different tales indeed! "The Call of Cthulhu", though having flaws, is among his best and most important; also one of his most complex structurally and stylistically. "The Hound", on the other hand, is largely a very simple tale, albeit told in style which is (even for HPL) excessively florid and overwritten, even self-parodic, though having some interesting aspects to it.

    However, if you have enjoyed both of these, chances are you're going to like the majority of Lovecraft's work; in which case... welcome to the madhouse....:p
     
    Nov 26, 2009
    #2
  3. Fried Egg

    Fried Egg Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2006
    Messages:
    3,482
    It's always been a mystery to me why people say "Call of Cthulu" is among his best stories. For me it is quite overated. Of his "major" stories, it one of my least favourite (although that depends on what you count as being one of his major stories).
     
    Nov 26, 2009
    #3
  4. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator

    Joined:
    May 9, 2006
    Messages:
    13,883
    Lovecraft himself had severe reservations about that one, feeling it was cumbrous for one thing; but I think there are several reasons for putting it among his best: the gradual accumulation of detail or "supporting evidence" is handled very well, with close attention to verisimilitude (save perhaps with Johannsen's widow handing over the manuscript to the narrator -- this one strains credulity, though it isn't impossible); the concepts themselves were groundbreaking in their day (and, in some ways, remain far beyond what most writers are willing to tackle even now); the structure, far from being truly cumbrous, is handled with surprising deftness, given its complexity (narratives within narratives within narratives -- to about a seventh level of such, as I recall) -- quite a feat in itself; he manages to convey the pervasive presence of Cthulhu's influence (and of Cthulhu himself) without ever bringing him/it on stage directly -- the closest we get is Johannsen's narrative, and even that is rather vague and cloudy -- again, quite a feat, given the nature of the thing; stylistically, the tale is very well modulated, going from the almost clinically restrained language to sections where language itself is strained and distorted, hallucinatory, as we encounter the distortion of accepted reality -- a very precise and careful use of tone and modality for each mood and transition; and it is a tale which continues (as with so many of his works) to grow with each reading, so that the implications and the sense of both wonder, awe, and that chill frisson become broader and deeper the more you read it....

    I'm not sure anyone but Lovecraft could have written the tale. Others have certainly tried; there have been several attempts at imitation that I've read over the years, but none have managed that balancing act, and certainly none have even approached the complexity and careful orchestration of style, sense, and mood which he managed there. It is a genuine tour-de-force which captures imaginative concepts and captivates imaginations in a unique fashion more than eighty years after it was written, something relatively few stories can claim to do.

    It certainly isn't a tale to everyone's taste. Neil Gaiman has said that "It isn't a good story. It's a good -- something" but not a good story. Others have felt the same. But overall, I'd say it deserves its reputation as both one of his most important and best works....
     
    Nov 26, 2009
    #4
  5. Fried Egg

    Fried Egg Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2006
    Messages:
    3,482
    I'm sure you're quite correct from a technical point of view and would say my perspective is more one of an entertainment perspective. From this point of view, I don't think it succeeds nearly as well as some of his other stories (such as "The Shunned House", "Rats in the Walls", "Shadows over Innsmouth", "Whisperer in the Darkness", "Colour out of Space" and "Shadow out of Time").

    However, I have only read it the once. As you say, the level of detail and complexity of his stories mean that they are likely to benefit from a re-read. My opinions may well change over time.
     
    Nov 26, 2009
    #5
  6. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator

    Joined:
    May 9, 2006
    Messages:
    13,883
    *chuckle* I really should put a warning on my posts when it comes to HPL, shouldn't I....?

    Essentially, I was simply answering with the reasons I think this one is accounted among his best. Others, as I noted, may not agree. To be honest, when such occurs, I'm always interested in hearing their critique of such a tale. We may never convince each other, but when it is a thoughtful critique, there is almost always something to me to consider, and a new layer at which to look....
     
    Nov 26, 2009
    #6
  7. nigourath

    nigourath Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2008
    Messages:
    57
    About "call of cthulhu":When i first read this one ,and it was one of my first contacts with the unique lovecraftian style and atmosphere,i felt somehow let down,comparing it to all the hype surrounding this tale-at a first impression upon finishing it.Still ,with this tale happened the very thing that gets to happen, after reading every lovecraftian work:Lovecraft"s literature is very pervasive,fried egg....meaning that the first impression is a very short-lived 'acquisition" in Lovecraft"s case.It is not a literature, that you can say afterwards ,what a sensational and "magic" or entertaining reading it was.It is the kind of literature ,that only Lovecraft could ever create-an experience.Lovecraftian literature is the kind that is building slowly inside you,long after you have read the story.It gets you to another direction ,another understanding of the things surrounding you,the cosmos.Soon you want to read more of him.

    Neil gaiman -a spiritual child of Lovecraft and important pioneer and supporter of the artistic transformation of the "comics genre"-has stated that ,when you are reading Lovecraft "you are really there!" -inside the tale.That is what Lovecraft offers better than the rest out there-daring to say of every literature genre."The call of Cthulhu" is exactly a very good introduction to this new type of literature-even today at the second millenium...A literature that ... invades the reader ,and in a very artistic form. Not entertaining like others might be -that is true,but conformative upon the reader ,meaning here that the story superimposes and heavily influences the reader and not the opposite-the reader adjusting or trying to get the meaning of the tale,exact his conclusions etc etc...... To be a little more... graphical on how it is ,its like you are in a "hellraiser" movie and you find "the strange cube",and upon unlocking it a new dimension -of terror in the case of the film comes your way changing the things you knew forever(i dont know if that was a good example though ....anyway the lovecraftian literature is that "cube" to another dimension of things, not of terror ofcourse.. but to open sceptisism to say at least)

    I really dont know if it was a conscious effort by Lovecraft ,to create this new kind of literature as an expression ,if it was a deliberate urge to create "something different" than the rest,but he certainly accomplished it.So ,the same thing applies for "The call of Cthulhu",not a very acute sensation upon reading it, but with a very lasting ,and progressively lasting effect.To finally put it ,its the literature that "stays along " with the reader and not "happily gone" like it happens with others....

    Also, i wanted to ask and maybe j.d here knows something ,about a certain newly published book, that came into my attention: "THE DRUMS OF CHAOS" by Richard L. Tierney,with very strong Lovecraftian elements in it and with a very interesting story background from what i have seen.Any info on that plz??Here"s, the Amazon link on the book: Amazon.com: The Drums of Chaos (9780978991166): Richard L. Tierney, John Coulthart: Books
     
    Dec 12, 2009
    #7
  8. Ningauble

    Ningauble Lovecraftian

    Joined:
    May 15, 2007
    Messages:
    718
    Highly recommended. I had waited since 1994 for this book, and it was one of the first that I read this year -- and I wasn't disappointed. It really was worth waiting almost 15 years for.
    You will "get it" better if you have read other stories about Simon and Taggart before (and a knowledge of the original Gospels adds a certain spice too), but it will still be a powerful read, I think. (But you may want to skip Robert M. Price's excellent foreword until after you've read the novel, since it is full of spoilers.)
     
    Dec 12, 2009
    #8
  9. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator

    Joined:
    May 9, 2006
    Messages:
    13,883
    Yes, Price does tend to do that....:D (This is not a criticism. I happen to find Robert Price's essays immensely absorbing and thought-provoking, not to mention just plain fun.)

    Ningauble has pretty much said it. You can find the majority (though not all) of the other Simon tales in The Book of Thoth, issued by Chaosium, and you might also want to get The Winds of Zarr as well, if you can find it. I have not yet read the novel, but I did read quite a few of the stories as they were published over the last 30+ years, and found them well worth the time.

    As for "The Call of Cthulhu"... I suppose I was lucky. When I discovered HPL, there really wasn't any of the hype; I'd never heard of the darned thing; yet it rather took me by storm, as the saying goes. I've never looked back since....
     
    Dec 12, 2009
    #9
  10. Jayaprakash Satyamurthy

    Jayaprakash Satyamurthy Knivesout no more

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2003
    Messages:
    4,044
    Location:
    Bangalore, India
    The Drums Of Chaos has been on my radar for a while, so thanks for the endorsements, Messers Ningauble and Worthington (I continue to be in a formal frame of mind).

    I was immensely impressed at the gradual way in which the story in The Call Of Cthulhu is revealed through various seemingly unconnected accounts; even when positing a first-person narrator I find that Lovecraft generally employs some such method of slowly garnering the facts of his story in many of his mature works. It's an interesting technique and underscores some of my own concepts about the interesting parallelism between certain kinds of horror and mystery fiction.

    The sculptor and his strangely archaic work (which apparently was the content of the dream that served as the kernel of this story), the plague of bizarre dreams, the cultists in Louisiana, the sailor's journal's final, climactic revelations - the disparity in setting, diversity in tone and convergence in content are very effective in conveying the immensity of what has nearly happened here. It's a pre-apocalyptic tale, or rather a tale of apocalypse closely averted. Those oft-quoted opening lines resound with deadful portent when the final page is read. I've re-read this tale many times and continue to marvel at its construction and cumulative impact.

    It's also a great story for reading aloud, although one needs a couple of evenings to complete the reading.
     
    Dec 13, 2009
    #10
  11. J-WO

    J-WO Author of The Scalpel (Feral Space Book 1)

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2008
    Messages:
    2,197
    Location:
    Leicester, The Las Vegas of the Midlands!
    TCOC is one of my favourites--especially its multi-layered quality. However, I can never take the Johannsen climax seriously. To my mind, it does Cthulu a disservice--a blumin' boat's prow to make him/ she/ it think twice? After the novella-sized drumroll HPL gives the tentacled one its a real anti-climax.
     
    Dec 13, 2009
    #11
  12. Jayaprakash Satyamurthy

    Jayaprakash Satyamurthy Knivesout no more

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2003
    Messages:
    4,044
    Location:
    Bangalore, India
    The thought did occur to me on a recent re-read. I wonder if some other cause is also implied, the break-up of the cults that were supposed to prepare for Cthulhu's return and so forth. I imagine that Cthulhu would also be somewhat weakened immediately after being wakened from his slumbers.
     
    Dec 13, 2009
    #12
  13. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator

    Joined:
    May 9, 2006
    Messages:
    13,883
    Now, this has never struck me this way, I must admit. In fact, it tends to have exactly the opposite effect. The vessel plowed through Cthulhu, but to no real effect. It didn't cause the entity to stop, to pause, or anything of the kind... it simply delayed things long enough to allow Johannsen to escape physically (mentally/emotionally is quite another matter). In other words, it emphasizes the entirely alien quality of the being by having something which would normally be at least seriously damaging to anything possessing material qualities be essentially useless. He simply "reassembles" his structure after being temporarily disrupted from that "hateful original form". It is an annoyance at most, quite likely less than that -- a momentary distraction....
     
    Dec 13, 2009
    #13
  14. J-WO

    J-WO Author of The Scalpel (Feral Space Book 1)

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2008
    Messages:
    2,197
    Location:
    Leicester, The Las Vegas of the Midlands!
    I hear what you're saying but I still don't quite buy it. If I'd have been HPL (which of course is easy to say) I'd have made it a spawn of Cthulu rather than the big mindwarping cheese itself. That way, you'd still get the extreme alieness but also be left thinking 'wow, how powerful must Cthulu itself be then?'.

    For me, Cthulu's physical appearance irreperably defines it, gives it limits in a way, say, Shub Niggurath or Yog Sothoth never suffer from.

    All that said, I lost my copy of COC about two years ago so my opinion might be blurry.
     
    Dec 13, 2009
    #14
  15. Jayaprakash Satyamurthy

    Jayaprakash Satyamurthy Knivesout no more

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2003
    Messages:
    4,044
    Location:
    Bangalore, India
    Am I right in remembering the implication that the resurgence of Cthulhu does not work out because of other factors than the vessel - the round-up of the cultists and so forth? I am re-reading a few Lovecraft stories at present to balance out the material in The Horror In The Museum with some of his really accomplished stuff but a re-read of The Call Of Cthulhu might only occur a few weeks in the future.
     
    Dec 14, 2009
    #15
  16. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator

    Joined:
    May 9, 2006
    Messages:
    13,883
    Actually, it doesn't work out because R'lyeh sinks again -- in other words, sheer circumstances (or accident). Nothing human beings do has any effect on it, and even natural forces such as the earthquake which once again resubmerges that single mountaintop (remember, that's all we see of R'lyeh -- the hint is that is incredibly vast; Derleth once had it stretching from at least the area of Devil's Reef off the Massachusetts coast to the site in the Pacific where Johannsen had his encounter) only constitute a temporary setback, nothing more. Whenever such a natural event occurs again, Cthulhu may reemerge... and this time there may not be such a fortuitous circumstance to bring things to a halt....
     
    Dec 14, 2009
    #16
  17. Jayaprakash Satyamurthy

    Jayaprakash Satyamurthy Knivesout no more

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2003
    Messages:
    4,044
    Location:
    Bangalore, India
    I'd always read it as being due to the suppression of the cultists, or at least that was the impression that I had in my first reading, and it has coloured subsequent re-reads.
     
    Dec 14, 2009
    #17
  18. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator

    Joined:
    May 9, 2006
    Messages:
    13,883
    No, HPL made it fairly plain that the only thing that halted this reemergence was simple "accident" or a fortuitous set of natural circumstance, much like that which brought R'lyeh to light again in the first place. Human beings just have no impact at all, really.

    The cultists themselves don't really matter -- this is just superstitious human response to a being (or force) which is so far beyond their comprehension that they make of it a god; and nearly everything they say or think about Cthulhu must be taken with an enormous degree of caution as a result....
     
    Dec 14, 2009
    #18
  19. Jayaprakash Satyamurthy

    Jayaprakash Satyamurthy Knivesout no more

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2003
    Messages:
    4,044
    Location:
    Bangalore, India
    Well I sat and re-read large passages of the work in question last night - by no means an onerous task - and you're quite right.

    I first read Lovecraft in any detail at a time of great personal distress and while I obsessively re-read a selection of his works again and again during this period of time (it was a form of escape from a vegetative state rather similar to Lovecraft's own, prior to his entry into the APA) I was also not in the best frame of mind to absorb nuances. I've re-read most of his fiction several times since, but evidently somewhat coloured by the apprehensions and misapprehensions of this era. A re-read with a more alert eye is indicated.
     
    Dec 15, 2009
    #19
  20. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator

    Joined:
    May 9, 2006
    Messages:
    13,883
    Thank you for the feedback.

    I have certainly had that experience with various things I've read; and I've been through such a "vegetative state" before more than once myself. Going through particularly stressful or even traumatic times can seriously color one's perception with such things -- yet another reason why, if a work has any resonance at all, I seldom regret going back to revisit it....

    That particular story I have read so many times over the years that I can no longer give an accurate number -- which is the case with a surprising amount of Lovecraft, actually. Only a relatively small selection of his tales have been read by me a handful of times, "Ashes" (yes, I do pick on that particular one, and deservedly so!) being among that number; even "The Hound" (to go back to where this thread started) is one I have read numerous times over the past 35+ years....
     
    Dec 15, 2009
    #20
Loading...

Share This Page