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Call of Cthulhu
on January 10, 2010
"...all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom."
I have received numerous recommendations over the years for the work of horror legend H.P. Lovecraft, and have often been met with surprise when I admit that I had never read his work. While I am a horror and gothic enthusiast I always felt apprehensive about Lovecraft's work - after all, how could he possibly compare to such greats as Edgar Allen Poe and Sheridan Le Fanu?
Despite having the Tales of H.P. Lovecraft (edited by Joyce Carol Oates) sitting on my shelf, I decided to download Lovecraft's "The Call of Cthulhu" on my Kindle2 after seeing it mentioned in a group on LibraryThing. ( I apologize now, because I cannot for the life of me remember who brought it up recently, but it inspired me to give Lovecraft a try once and for all).
I am pleased to say that I was not disappointed. "The Call of Cthulhu" is a delightfully dark and twisted tale that has the ability to draw readers in from its first mysterious pages. The tale is presented from the point of view of a secondary source (the nephew and executor of a deceased professor) stumbling upon the research and first-person accounts regarding an ancient and malevolent entity by the name of "Cthulhu." As cult members practice dark arts in order to revive this creature from its watery depths, the narrator realizes with horror that it has already been done, and instills in readers a kind of apprehension that such a thing can be innocently done again, much to the detriment of all living creatures.
Lovecraft's style is at once elegant and non evasive, so his language adds to the understanding and delight of the reader as opposed to detracting from the story with superfluous prose. The evolution from nineteenth-century gothic literature is evident, which helps to ground the short story in a strong literary history, while allowing it to evolve into what audiences now call "horror."