How to get started on HPL

After reading some threads on Cthulhu and hearing some hype on Re-Animator, I’m curious about HPL’s works. What would be a good list of HPL books to start off my eventual descent into insanity?

Actually, “Herbert West, Reanimator” would be a good place to start. It really is a terrific story, and it manages to stay very powerful, even after seventy or so years. As far as Cthulhu is concerned, “Call of Cthulhu” would be a logical place to start.

Stories I personally recommend:
-“At the mountains of madness”. An expedition in Antarctica uncovers a lot more secrets than they were looking for… This particular story is just magnificent, with the icy backdrop of Antarctica providing the perfect atmosphere.

  • “The Dunwich Horror”. A simple townswoman gives birth to a baby boy with a (you guessed it) terrible secret.
  • “The Strange Case of Charles Dexter Ward”. Another simple townsman with another dark secret.

I find that the quality of his stories are pretty uneven, so if you didn’t like the first story you read, try another.

Actually, “Herbert West, Reanimator” would be a good place to start. It really is a terrific story, and it manages to stay very powerful, even after seventy or so years. As far as Cthulhu is concerned, “Call of Cthulhu” would be a logical place to start.

Stories I personally recommend:
-“At the mountains of madness”. An expedition in Antarctica uncovers a lot more secrets than they were looking for… This particular story is just magnificent, with the icy backdrop of Antarctica providing the perfect atmosphere.

  • “The Dunwich Horror”. A simple townswoman gives birth to a baby boy with a (you guessed it) terrible secret.
  • “The Strange Case of Charles Dexter Ward”. Another simple townsman with another dark secret.

I find that the quality of his stories are pretty uneven, so if you didn’t like the first story you read, try another.
Also, there’s a comprehensive (supposedly legal) archive of his stories available on the net. Very easy to find.

The post so nice I had to post it twice! :rolleyes:

As I posted in another recent thread about HPL, my favorite stories of his are:

“Pickman’s Model”, “The Dunwich Horror”, “The Shadow over Innsmouth”, “The Colour Out of Space” (arguably his best story, ever. Even people who don’t like Lovecraft tend to like this one) and the novella At the Mountains of Madness. What the hell: I’ll tack on “Rats in the Walls” and “The Haunter of the Dark.”

Be careful when looking for Lovecraft books. A lot of stuff published under Lovecraft’s name was actually written after his death, by his friend and fellow author August Derleth, based on unfinished works and ideas he had left behind. Derleth wasn’t much of a writer, unfortunetly, and most of these books are pretty bad. Check the cover carefully, both sides, and the flyleaf. If it says “with August Derleth” anywhere, skip it. It’s not really from H.P.

Check out the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society, http://www.cthulhulives.org/toc.html. And previous CS threads – just do a Forum Search on “Cthulhu” or “Lovecraft.”

Another good source is the “Necronomicon Files” website, http://www.necfiles.org/. In his fiction, Lovecraft made several references to (and occasional quotes from) the Necronomicon, a book about the Great Old Ones supposedly written by the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred in the Eighth Century A.D. (In his story “The Dunwich Horror,” Henry Armitage, librarian of Miskatonic University in Arkham, Mass., has custody of one of the few surviving copies of the Necronomicon; he and his colleagues use magic spells out of the book to fight the mysterious invisible monster who is ravaging the neighboring town of Dunwich.) Lovecraft even wrote an essay on the Necronomicon’s history. He made the whole thing so convincing that, since Lovecraft’s time, a lot of fans (including myself) have gone to a lot of trouble to track down the real Necronomicon, and several books purporting to be the Necronomicon have been published – all of them hoaxes or pranks (or mere appropriations of the name, as when H.R. Giger, designer of the sets for Alien, published a collection of his horrific art and named it the Necronomicon.) Daniel Harms and John Gonce wrote a book, The Necronomicon Files (Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC, 2003), chasing down every possible argument that the Necronomicon is a real book. Their unsurprising conclusion is that HPL made it up and there is no identifiable mention of it in any source predating his stories. But it’s still a fun area to study! You can order their book via their website.

  • At the Mountains of Madness * is a must read; and of couse you should read *The Shadow over Innsmouth and The Call of Cthulhu. * I second skipping the Derleth stories; they pale in comparison to the eldritch horror on true Lovecraftian works.

This {link deleted} site should have all of the stories.
{All right. Cut it out. BUY your friggin’ Lovecraft. – Ukulele Ike, CS mod)

So, am I the only one who likes “The Tree”?

I liked his earlier fiction, sure, but it’s an acquired taste.

I’d look for “The Best Of H.P. Lovecraft,” from Ballantine Books; it’s got his best Cthulhu Mythos fiction in it. Either of the “Annotated H.P. Lovecraft” books by S. T. Joshi is good, too. Lastly, for other work by other authors that has a similar flavor, I highly recommend “Tales Of The Cthulhu Mythos” and “Cthulhu 2000”, also from Ballantine Books.

Much of Lovecraft’s work is also available in hardback from Arkham House, but their print runs are so small, they can be a pain to find.

I’ll second the Joshi books. They help clear up some of the master’s eldritch and wordy language and provide some insight into the story. Usually I avoid annotated copies, but he did a good job.

I love At the mountains of madness, but it’s one of HPL’s longest works and it takes a while to really get going. It would likely be a bit too much for most people getting into Lovecraft for the first time. Charles Dexter Ward is much the same way, rather long, but good,

** Pickman’s Model, The Dunwich Horror, Call of Cthulhu, Rats in the Walls, the Colour out of Space, Herbert West and the Haunter of the Dark, also the Shadow over insmouth** are all good and preferable to start with.

These all all considered his best, though there’s little agreement on the best. I have far different opinions on the stories then Joshi does, who has a tendency to poo-poo some of my favorites, but that’s his opinion and mine respectivly.

I tend to like his shorter pieces, they’re quick and “fun” (for lack of a better word). The ones that really stand out for me are “The Rats In The Walls,” “The White Ship” (which is really quite beautiful), and “The Temple.” “The Temple” is really quite a trip, dealing with a WWI U-boat, the supernatural and madness, all recounted in a message in a bottle.

If you want really short-form HPL, some of the fragmentary pieces published in one or two of the Del Rey books are really interesting reads, and it’s unfortunate that they were never completed, even if they were meant only as exercises.