The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.— The Call of Cthulhu by H. P. Lovecraft
And with this quote begins the short story The Call of Cthulhu by HP Lovecraft, a work that like no other, defines the Cthulhu Mythos. Hp Lovecraft was a writer in the 1920′s and 30′s who short stories and novellas helped define the modern supernatural horror genre. Never particularly popular during his lifetime (he would die young a pauper) he has been highly influential to many important modern day writers (most notably Stephen King). HP Lovecraft’s works are growing increasingly popular. Once only enjoyed by nerds and horror fans, his works are attaining mainstream popularity. James Cameron and Guillermo del Torro even wanted to make a film of his longest work At the Mountains of Madness.
HP Lovecraft’s writings are quite unusual for his time in many ways, although a lot of the concepts and techniques that he used have become the mainstay of many modern writers. He frequently deals with themes such as madness, the futility of humankind, elder beings that are grander than the ability of humanity to understand, and cultists. While he was contemporary with Edgar Allen Poe, his writing is very different, not suffering from Victorian niceties and melodrama to quite the same degree.
I have been a huge fan of HP Lovecraft’s writings, and in particular, his Cthulhu stories for a long time. Recently, after being asked on numerous occasions, I decided it was high time I wrote a beginner’s reading guide that I could point people too.