Join Date: May 2006
Re: HP Lovecraft on Kindle
I have almost stopped replying to such queries these days, as I seem to be odd-man-out when it comes to my approach to Lovecraft's writing. For example, his "Dunsanian" stories are often held in small regard by many readers, who prefer his tales of "cosmic horror" featuring what has been labeled "the Cthulhu mythos"; yet to me these are an important part of that tapestry, and enrich that concept immeasurably.
I am also one who prefers reading a writer's works in the order they were written, in order to view the development both of them as a writer and of whatever construct they became most noted for. (There are exceptions, albeit partial ones, such as Moorcock's work. But even there, reading them in chronological order adds an entirely different layer to the experience, and one well worth exploring.) In the case of Lovecraft, this is particularly true, for as he developed as a writer, and as he absorbed his influences, he also grew philosophically, so that the growth of his concepts becomes (to me, at any rate) all the more impressive when one reads them in this fashion.
However, I know that not many casual readers share my views on this, so have, as I say, become somewhat chary of sharing my thoughts on such matters. As I have gone this far, I may as well put in at least a little on what I would consider "favourites", for you to consider. First, I would have to disagree with F.E. concerning his novels (short novels, at that), both because I think they are among his most impressive works, and because, in my own initial reading of Lovecraft (many, many years ago), these were among the things I encountered first, and are part of what hooked me into him so firmly. The Case of Charles Dexter Ward is, for example, a fine display of Lovecraft writing in a traditional "Gothic horror" mode, and also has an historical depth and richness which I think makes it one of the most memorable exercises in the field; while At the Mountains of Madness is a superb blending of horror, fantasy, and science fiction with a scope which is truly breathtaking. The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, on the other hand, is at times charming, at times whimsical, and at times horrific... and written in a poetic language which makes it often very dream-like and ethereal, yet at the core of it lies a very personal "spiritual autobiography" element which many (including myself) find very moving.
Among his short stories and novellas, I would recommend "The Music of Erich Zann", "The Colour Out of Space", "The Call of Cthulhu", "The Festival", "The Tomb" (which I would say has a great deal more to it than is commonly realized), "Nyarlathotep", "The Rats in the Walls", "The Whisperer in Darkness", "The Shadow Out of Time", "The Shadow Over Innsmouth", "The Haunter of the Dark", "The Silver Key", and "The Strange High House in the Mist". Despite its popularity, and a great deal of truly good material in it, I am less impressed with "The Dunwich Horror" than many, as I feel it is a gravely flawed story in various ways. Still, it is one of his most popular and highly-regarded works, so you may wish to give that one an early reading, too.