Tales of H. P. Lovecraft

Tales of H. P. Lovecraft

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by H. P. Lovecraft, Joyce Carol Oates
     
 

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When he died in 1937, destitute and emotionally as well as physically ruined, H. P. Lovecraft had no idea that he would one day be celebrated as the godfather of modern horror. A dark visionary, his work would influence an entire generation of writers, including Stephen King, Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman, and Anne Rice. Now, the most important tales of this

Overview

When he died in 1937, destitute and emotionally as well as physically ruined, H. P. Lovecraft had no idea that he would one day be celebrated as the godfather of modern horror. A dark visionary, his work would influence an entire generation of writers, including Stephen King, Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman, and Anne Rice. Now, the most important tales of this distinctive American storyteller have been collected in a single volume by National Book Award-winning author Joyce Carol Oates.

In tales that combine the nineteenth-century gothic sensibility of Edgar Allan Poe with a uniquely daring internal vision, Lovecraft fuses the supernatural and mundane into a terrifying, complex, and exquisitely realized vision, foretelling a psychically troubled century to come. Set in a meticulously described New England landscape, here are harrowing stories that explore the total collapse of sanity beneath the weight of chaotic events—stories of myth and madness that release monsters into our world. Lovecraft's universe is a frightening shadow world where reality and nightmare intertwine, and redemption can come only from below.

Editorial Reviews

Stephen King
H.P. Lovecraft has yet to be surpassed as the twentieth century's greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale.
Booknews
Ten major tales by Lovecraft (1890-1937) who inherited the horror genre from Poe and passed it to such modern writers as Stephen King and Anne Rice. Among the best known are The Call of Cthulhu, The Colour Out of Space, The Dunwich Horror, and At the Mountains of Madness. Joyce Carol Oates makes the selection and wrote the introduction. No index or bibliography. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Kirkus Reviews
A collection of ten prototypical stories by Lovecraft (18901937), the influential myth-and monster-maker of Providence, Rhode Island, whose extravagantly gothic tales have spawned and inspired such latterday disciples as Stephen King and Ramsey Campbell. It's ingenuous for Ecco to claim that "Now, at last" we have a representative Lovecraft (considering all that several publishers have done over the years to keep even his ephemera in print). Still, here are some of his best, including such comparatively little-known triumphs as a harrowing depiction of a surrender to madness (The Dreams in the Witch-House) and a superb haunted-house tale (The Shunned House). Oates's brief, incisive introduction suggestively compares Lovecraft's experiences and temperament with those of his mentor Poe, and helpfully summarizes the content of the former's apparently immortal "Chthulu Mythos." One misses only Lovecraft's hair-raising novella The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. But even without it this attractive volume offers a fine chance to sample Lovecraft's ghoulish pleasures.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061374609
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
09/18/2007
Series:
P.S. Series
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
1,280,850
Product dimensions:
6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.92(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Outsider

That night the Baron dreamt of many a woe; And all his warrior-guests, with shade and form Of witch, and daemon, and large coffin-worm, Were long be-nightmared.                      

                         --JOHN KEATS

Unhappy is he to whom the memories of childhood bring only fear and sadness. Wretched is he who looks back upon lone hours in vast and dismal chambers with brown hangings and maddening rows of antique books, or upon awed watches in twilight groves of grotesque, gigantic, and vine-encumbered trees that silently wave twisted branches far aloft. Such a lot the gods gave to me--to me, the dazed, the disappointed; the barren, the broken. And yet I am strangely content, and cling desperately to those sere memories, when my mind momentarily threatens to reach beyond to the other.

I know not where I was born, save that the castle was infinitely old and infinitely horrible; full of dark passages and having high ceilings where the eye could find only cobwebs and shadows. The stones in the crumbling corridors seemed always hideously damp, and there was an accursed smell everywhere, as of the piled-up corpses of dead generations. It was never light, so that I used sometimes to light candles and gaze steadily at them for relief; nor was there any sun outdoors, since the terrible trees grew high above the topmost accessible tower. There was one black tower whichreached above the trees into the unknown outer sky, but that was partly ruined and could not be ascended save by a well-nigh impossible climb up the sheer wall, stone by stone.

I must have lived years in this place, but I cannot measure the time. Beings must have cared for my needs, yet I cannot recall any person except myself; or anything alive but the noiseless rats and bats and spiders. I think that whoever nursed me must have been shockingly aged, since my first conception of a living person was that of something mockingly like myself, yet distorted, shrivelled, and decaying like the castle. To me there was nothing grotesque in the bones and skeletons that strowed some of the stone crypts deep down among the foundations. I fantastically associated these things with every-day events, and thought them more natural than the coloured pictures of living beings which I found in many of the mouldy books. From such books I learned all that I know. No teacher urged or guided me, and I do not recall hearing any human voice in all those years--not even my own; for although I had read of speech, I had never thought to try to speak aloud. My aspect was a matter equally unthought of, for there were no mirrors in the castle, and I merely regarded myself by instinct as akin to the youthful figures I saw drawn and painted in the books. I felt conscious of youth because I remembered so little.

Outside, across the putrid moat and under the dark mute trees, I would often lie and dream for hours about what I read in the books; and would longingly picture myself amidst gay crowds in the sunny world beyond the endless forest. Once I tried to escape from the forest, but as I went farther from the castle the shade grew denser and the air more filled with brooding fear; so that I ran frantically back lest I lose my way in a labyrinth of nighted silence.

So through endless twilights I dreamed and waited, though I knew not what I waited for. Then in the shadowy solitude my longing for light grew so frantic that I could rest no more, and I lifted entreating hands to the single black ruined tower that reached above the forest into the unknown outer sky. And at last I resolved to scale that tower, fall though I might; since it were better to glimpse the sky and perish, than to live without ever beholding day.

In the dank twilight I climbed the worn and aged stone stairs till I reached the level where they ceased, and thereafter clung perilously to small footholds leading upward. Ghastly and terrible was that dead, stairless cylinder of rock; black, ruined, and deserted, and sinister with startled bats whose wings made no noise. But more ghastly and terrible still was the slowness of my progress; for climb as I might, the darkness overhead grew no thinner, and a new chill as of haunted and venerable mould assailed me. I shivered as I wondered why I did not reach the light, and would have looked down had I dared. I fancied that night had come suddenly upon me, and vainly groped with one free hand for a window embrasure, that I might peer out and above, and try to judge the height I had attained.

All at once, after an infinity of awesome, sightless crawling up that concave and desperate precipice, I felt my head touch a solid thing, and I knew that I must have gained the roof, or at least some kind of floor. In the darkness I raised my free hand and tested the barrier, finding it stone and immovable. Then came a deadly circuit of the tower, clinging to whatever holds the slimy wall could give; till finally my testing hand found the barrier yielding, and I turned upward again, pushing the slab or door with my head as I used both hands in my fearful ascent. There was no light revealed above, and as my hands went higher I knew that my climb was for the nonce ended; since the slab was the trap-door of an aperture leading to a level stone surface of greater circumference than the lower tower, no doubt the floor of some lofty and capacious observation chamber. I crawled through carefully, and tried to prevent the heavy slab from falling back into place; but failed in the latter attempt.

Meet the Author

Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Medal of Humanities, the National Book Critics Circle Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Book Award, and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University and has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978.

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Tales of H. P. Lovecraft 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm somewhat ashamed to say that this was my first reading of Lovecraft's work. Of course I'd heard of him and knew the basics of the Cthulu Mythos, but I had no idea of the broad scope and incredible settings behind his stories. 'The Rats in the Walls' is a true delight, a horror story that makes you wonder, think, and question all aspects of the narrative. Outstanding stories!
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you read his stories for the first time, make sure you are not alone at home, especially at night. His Gothic style of writing fits in perfectly to jump at any sudden noise or to make you look over your shoulder once in a while. For all those who love horror literature, this is required reading, from a true master.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a good sampling of Lovecraft's work, probably the best macabre fiction, written in the 20th century. Anyone who enjoys horror fiction should read Lovecraft. This volume is a good place to start.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i felt as if the h.p.lovecraft book written by Joyce Carol Oates, was kind of shallow...there could have been more their. more context, more silicity. more in general to do about the past on lovecraft. i liked the book, but there could have been more to it...