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Dreams of Terror and Death: The Dream Cycle of H. P. Lovecraft Paperback – September 11, 1995

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Editorial Reviews Review

"One is drawn into Lovecraft by the very air of plausibility and characteristic understatement of the prose, the question being When will the weirdness strike?" writes Joyce Carol Oates in The New York Review of Books. Del Rey has reprinted Lovecraft's stories in three large-format paperbacks. This second volume, 25 tales in all, collects the classic "Case of Charles Dexter Ward," the phantasmagoric novel "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath," several fantasies inspired by Lord Dunsany and other stories. Introduction by Neil Gaiman (author of the Sandman comics).

From Publishers Weekly

Horror master Lovecraft (1890-1937) frequently used dreams in his tales of the supernatural to evoke fantastic worlds inconceivable to the conscious mind. This repackaging of 25 stories and fragments calls attention to that aspect of Lovecraft's work, but it won't convince anyone that the selections form a coherent cycle. In the light fantasies "Celephais," "The Silver Key" and "The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath," dreams are vehicles for travel to lands of enchantment in which men rub shoulders with gods and imaginary creatures. In the terror tales "The Dreams in the Witch-House," "Hypnos" and "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward," dreams intrude upon reality and serve as portents for horrors too terrible to engage directly. Both "The Statement of Randolph Carter" and the prose-poem "Nyarlathotep" are based on actual dreams of Lovecraft's, but a number of the other stories, good though they are, have no dream association whatsoever. Comics virtuoso Neil Gaiman (Sandman) supplies a respectful introduction that gives no clue to the selection criteria and, in several places, is factually incorrect. (Lovecraft placed two tales, not one, in the magazine Astounding Stories before its name was changed to Astounding Science Fiction, and before the tenure of editor John W. Campbell.) Its failed agenda notwithstanding, this book is a welcome tribute to a writer whose dreams inspired some of this century's finest literary nightmares.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; 1st edition (September 11, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345384210
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345384218
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #98,130 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

H. P. Lovecraft was born in 1890 in Providence, Rhode Island, where he lived most of his life. He wrote many essays and poems early in his career, but gradually focused on the writing of horror stories, after the advent in 1923 of the pulp magazine Weird Tales, to which he contributed most of his fiction. His relatively small corpus of fiction--three short novels and about sixty short stories--has nevertheless exercised a wide influence on subsequent work in the field, and he is regarded as the leading twentieth-century American author of supernatural fiction. H. P. Lovecraft died in Providence in 1937.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

113 of 128 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
Azathoh, The Descendant, The Thing in the Moonlight, Polaris, Beyond the Wall of Sleep, The Doom That Came to Sarnath, The Statement of Randolph Carter, The Cats of Ulthar, Celephais, From Beyond, Nyarlathotep, The Nameless City, The Other Gods, Ex Oblivione, The Quest of I ranon, The Hound, Hypnos, What the Moon Brings, Pickman's Model, The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath, The Silver Key, The Strange High House in the Mist, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, The Dreams in the Witch-House, Through the Gates of the Silver Key.
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Crypt on August 4, 2003
Format: Paperback
Undoubtably one of my favorite authors' most mind blowing stories are compiled here. If you haven't experienced Lovecraft's genious you're really missing out. The imagination this man possessed was incomparable. He created alternate universes and forces, creatures and powers, an entire mythological cycle by the power of pure imagination. These stories will transport you to other worlds. The words will suck you in and leave you feeling like you've experienced an apocalypse rather than simply read a story.
Unfortunately some folks seem to think that it wasn't pure imagination that created such memorable texts. This fairly common myth was perpetuated by the "Simon" edition of the "Necronomicon" which borrows from Lovecraft and combines this with ancient sumerian mysticism. For some reason "Simon" made up an elaborate story about how Lovecraft had occult ties. Not true. He may have been inspired by ancient lore and beliefs and used that to spark his imagination, however the truth is that the Necronomicon, Cthulhu, the Mad Arab etc... are PURE FICTION. The product of an incredible imagination. Anyone who has really read Lovecraft will find nothing in common with his Al Azif and the hoax "Necronomicon" that you can find in any occult bookstore. Anyone who knows Sumerian mythology and mysticism will find little in common with this book as well.
Lovecraft possessed an imagination like no other. Just read "The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath" if you don't believe me. It's one of the most stimulating and mind bending works of surreal fantasy I've ever read. I dare you to find something that even comes close to being similar. Check it out.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Phil Clapham on March 2, 2007
Format: Paperback
These days i find myself sadly jaded. I pick up books, read partway through, and lose interest... either because the plot is too predictable (been there, read that, know what's going to happen) or because the writing is mediocre. I find that good writing is increasingly important to me as I get older.

So, a couple of years back when I picked up this collection in a bookstore and started to read, my happy little synapses started firing as they hadn't in quite a while. Lovecraft writes more hauntingly than most anyone; I mean this in the sense of conveying extraordinary images and a sense of fabulous unworldliness, in language that is so deliciously balanced, complex and graceful that it makes one slow down and read every word.

At times dark and macabre, at others lyrical and filled with magic, the stories here really do have the quality of dreams. One encounters lost or fabulous worlds, and intimations of age-old terror. I was instantly transported into Lovecraft's world, and return there periodically to lose myself in his magic, and to recall that once upon a time, people could use the English language to enchant.

Here is the opening to "Azathoth", the first brief story (which is unfinished). If you like this language and the rich concepts it conveys, I promise that you'll love the rest of the book:

"When age fell upon the world, and wonder went out of the minds of men; when grey cities reared to smoky skies tall towers grim and ugly, in whose shadow none might dream of the sun or of Spring's flowering meads; when learning stripped the Earth of her mantle of beauty and poets sang no more of twisted phantoms seen with bleared and inward looking eyes; when these things had come to pass, and childish hopes had gone forever, there was a man who traveled out of life on a quest into spaces whither the world's dreams had fled."

Sigh. Now THAT'S writing...
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Alexander T. MacNeil on October 12, 2004
Format: Paperback
I must admit I was really amazed when I read this book. My interest in Lovecraft began three years ago when an online player introduced me to the Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game. Ever since I bought the book and played using his concepts, I was hooked. You don't have to be a roleplaying game fan to like Lovecraft, though a lot of what his stories talk about is easier to read if you have the benefit of some knowledge of Lovecraft's ideas.

Basically, the premise of his stories is that man is fortunate to be born ignorant, because if he knew the truth it would either destroy him or lead him into corruption and madness. As far as dark fantasy goes, good stories based on the Cthulhu Mythos (August Derleth's term for Lovecraft-inspired stories) rank among the best.

By far my favourite stories are "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath" a surreal short novel of epic fantasy (a short epic? I never thought it possible!), "The Silver Key" a short story but intriguing nonetheless, and "Through the Gates of the Silver Key", which in my opinion is almost as good as the Dream-Quest. While it elaborates on the events after the Silver Key, it really isn't necessary to read one story to appreciate the other. Both stories are good enough to be read on their own.

What's been noted on Lovecraft's style is that he seldom produces dialogue and character development. While some of this is practiced in Through the Gates, it is largely true that Lovecraft's style is mostly poetic and not intended to be read like "normal" stories. I would also point out that Mythos tales after Lovecraft do not necessarily follow the strictly "poetic" style the author chose for his works.
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