The Call of Cthulhu

"The Call of Cthulhu" is a short story by American writer H. P. Lovecraft. Written in the summer of 1926, it was first published in the pulp magazine Weird Tales, in February 1928.[1]

"The Call of Cthulhu"
Weird Tales February 1928
Cover of pulp magazine Weird Tales February 1928; first appearance of "The Call of Cthulhu" in print
AuthorH. P. Lovecraft
CountryUnited States
Genre(s)Horror, weird fiction
Published inWeird Tales
Media typePrint
Publication dateFebruary, 1928


The narrator, Francis Wayland Thurston, recounts his discovery of notes left behind by his grand-uncle, Brown University linguistic professor George Gammell Angell, after his death in the winter of 1926–27. Among the notes is a small bas-relief sculpture of a scaly creature which yields "simultaneous pictures of an octopus, a dragon, and a human caricature." The sculptor, a Rhode Island art student named Henry Anthony Wilcox, based the work on delirious dreams of "great Cyclopean cities of titan blocks and sky-flung monoliths." Frequent references to Cthulhu and R'lyeh are found in Wilcox's papers. Angell also discovers reports of mass hysteria around the world.

More notes discuss a 1908 meeting of an archeological society in which New Orleans police official John Raymond Legrasse asks attendees to identify a statuette of unidentifiable greenish-black stone resembling Wilcox's sculpture. It is then revealed that the previous year, Legrasse and a party of policemen found several women and children being used in a ritual by an all-male cult. After killing five of the cultists and arresting 47 others, Legrasse learns that they worship the "Great Old Ones" and await the return of a monstrous being called Cthulhu.[2] The prisoners identify the statuette as "great Cthulhu." One of the academics present at the meeting, Princeton professor William Channing Webb, describes a group of "Esquimaux" with similar beliefs and fetishes.

Thurston discovers a 1925 article from an Australian newspaper which reports the discovery of a derelict ship, the Alert, of which second mate Gustaf Johansen is the sole survivor. Johansen reports that the Emma was attacked by a heavily armed yacht named the Alert. The crewmen of the Emma killed those aboard the Alert, but lost their own ship in the battle, commandeered the Alert, and discovered an uncharted island in the vicinity of co-ordinates of 47°9′S 126°43′W / 47.150°S 126.717°W. With the exception of Johansen and another man, the remaining crew died on the island. Johansen does not reveal the manner of their death.

Upon traveling to Australia, Thurston views a statue retrieved from the Alert which is identical to the previous two. In Norway, he learns that Johansen died suddenly after an encounter with "two Lascar sailors". Johansen's widow provides Thurston with her late husband's manuscript, wherein the uncharted island is described as being home to a "nightmare corpse-city" called R'lyeh. Johansen's crew struggled to comprehend the non-Euclidean geometry of the city and accidentally released Cthulhu, resulting in their deaths. Johansen and one crewmate fled aboard the Alert and were pursued by Cthulhu. Johansen rammed the yacht into the creature's head, only for its injury to regenerate. The Alert escaped, but Johansen's crewmate died. After finishing the manuscript, Thurston realizes he is now a target of Cthulhu's worshippers.


Cthulhu Mythos scholar Robert M. Price argues the irregular sonnet "The Kraken",[3] written in 1830 by Alfred Tennyson, was a major inspiration for Lovecraft's story, as both reference a huge aquatic creature sleeping for an age at the bottom of the ocean and destined to emerge from its slumber in an apocalyptic age.[4] Price also notes that Lovecraft admired the work of Lord Dunsany, who wrote The Gods of Pegāna (1905), which depicts a god constantly lulled to sleep to avoid the consequences of its reawakening. Another Dunsany work cited by Price is A Shop in Go-by Street (1919), which stated "the heaven of the gods who sleep", and "unhappy are they that hear some old god speak while he sleeps being still deep in slumber".[5][6]

S. T. Joshi and David E. Schultz cited other literary inspirations: Guy de Maupassant's "The Horla" (1887), which Lovecraft described in Supernatural Horror in Literature as concerning "an invisible being who...sways the minds of others, and seems to be the vanguard of a horde of extraterrestrial organisms arrived on earth to subjugate and overwhelm mankind"; and Arthur Machen's "The Novel of the Black Seal" (1895), which uses the same method of piecing together of disassociated knowledge (including a random newspaper clipping) to reveal the survival of a horrific ancient being.[7] Joshi has also cited A. Merritt's novella The Moon Pool (1918), which Lovecraft 'frequently rhapsodied about'. Joshi says that, 'Merritt's mention of a "moon-door" that, when tilted, leads the characters into a lower region of wonder and horror seems similar to the huge door whose inadvertent opening by the sailors causes Cthulhu to emerge from R'lyeh'.[8]

It is also assumed he got inspiration from William Scott-Elliot's The Story of Atlantis (1896), and The Lost Lemuria (1904), which Lovecraft read in 1926, shortly before he started to work on the story.[9] The "slight earthquake" mentioned in the story is likely the 1925 Charlevoix–Kamouraska earthquake.[10]


Lovecraft regarded the short story as "rather middling—not as bad as the worst, but full of cheap and cumbrous touches". Weird Tales editor Farnsworth Wright first rejected the story, and only accepted it after writer Donald Wandrei, a friend of Lovecraft's, falsely claimed that Lovecraft was thinking of submitting it elsewhere.[11]

The published story was regarded by Robert E. Howard (the creator of Conan) as "a masterpiece, which I am sure will live as one of the highest achievements of literature. Mr. Lovecraft holds a unique position in the literary world; he has grasped, to all intents, the worlds outside our paltry ken."[12] Lovecraft scholar Peter Cannon regarded the story as "ambitious and complex...a dense and subtle narrative in which the horror gradually builds to cosmic proportions", adding "one of [Lovecraft's] bleakest fictional expressions of man's insignificant place in the universe."[13]

French novelist Michel Houellebecq, in his book H. P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life (1991), described the story as the first of Lovecraft's "great texts".[14] In a tongue-in-cheek article treating the story's narrative as real-world events, Canadian mathematician Benjamin K. Tippett noted that the phenomena described in Johansen's journal may be interpreted as "observable consequences of a localized bubble of spacetime curvature", and proposed a suitable mathematical model.[15] E. F. Bleiler has referred to "The Call of Cthulhu" as "a fragmented essay with narrative inclusions".[16]


See also


  1. ^ Straub, Peter (2005). Lovecraft: Tales. The Library of America. p. 823. ISBN 1-931082-72-3.
  2. ^ Lovecraft, "The Call of Cthulhu", p. 139.
  3. ^ The Kraken, The Victorian Web
  4. ^ Robert M. Price, "The Other Name of Azathoth", introduction to The Cthulhu Cycle. Price credits Philip A. Shreffler with connecting the poem and the story.
  5. ^ "Lord Dunsany (1878–1957)". Works; Short bibliography. Dunsany. December 2003. Retrieved 2012-01-26.
  6. ^ Price, "The Other Name of Azathoth". This passage is also believed to have inspired Lovecraft's entity Azathoth, hence the title of Price's essay.
  7. ^ S. T. Joshi and David E. Schultz, "Call of Cthulhu, The", An H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia, pp. 28–29.
  8. ^ Joshi, S. T. (2010) I am Providence: The Life and Times of H. P. Lovecraft. New York: Hippocampus Press. 2 vols. Vol II, p. 639
  9. ^ Fortean Times – H. P. Lovecraft Archived 2013-01-12 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ Lackey, Chris; Chad Fifer; Andrew Leman (May 12, 2010). "Episode 42 – The Call of Cthulhu – Part 1". The H. P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
  11. ^ S.T. Joshi, More Annotated Lovecraft, p. 173.
  12. ^ Quoted in Peter Cannon, "Introduction", More Annotated Lovecraft, p. 7.
  13. ^ Cannon, pp. 6–7.
  14. ^ Michel Houellebecq, H. P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life.
  15. ^ Tippett, Benjamin K. (2012). "Possible Bubbles of Spacetime Curvature in the South Pacific". arXiv:1210.8144.
  16. ^ E.F. Bleiler, Supernatural Fiction Writers Vol, NY: Scribners, 1985, p. 478
  17. ^ ISBN 9781568821122
  18. ^ "Cthulhu: The Musical!". Portland Mercury. Retrieved 2018-07-18.


  • Lovecraft, Howard P. (1984) [1928]. "The Call of Cthulhu". In S. T. Joshi. The Dunwich Horror and Others (9th corrected printing ed.). Sauk City, WI: Arkham House. ISBN 0-87054-037-8. Definitive version.
  • Lovecraft, Howard P. (1999) [1928]. "The Call of Cthulhu". In S. T. Joshi. More Annotated Lovecraft (1st ed.). New York City, NY: Dell. ISBN 0-440-50875-4. With explanatory footnotes.
  • Price, Robert M. (1996) [1928]. "The Call of Cthulhu". In Robert M. Price. The Cthulhu Cycle: Thirteen Tentacles of Terror (1st ed.). Oakland, CA: Chaosium, Inc. ISBN 1-56882-038-0. A collection of works that inspired and were inspired by The Call of Cthulhu, with commentary.

External links

Call of Cthulhu

Call of Cthulhu may refer to:

"The Call of Cthulhu", the original 1928 short story by H. P. Lovecraft

Call of Cthulhu (role-playing game), published by Chaosium (first edition, 1981)

Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game (2008), published by Fantasy Flight Games

The Call of Cthulhu (film), a 2005 silent film

Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth, a 2005 first-person survival horror video game

Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land, a 2012 tactical RPG video game

Call of Cthulhu: The Official Video Game, a 2018 survival horror RPG video game

Call of Cthulhu (role-playing game)

Call of Cthulhu is a horror fiction role-playing game based on H. P. Lovecraft's story of the same name and the associated Cthulhu Mythos. The game, often abbreviated as CoC, is published by Chaosium; it was first released in 1981 and is currently in its seventh edition, with many different versions released. It makes use of Chaosium's Basic Role-Playing (BRP) system, with special rules for Sanity.


Cthulhu ( kə-THOO-loo) is a fictional cosmic entity created by writer H. P. Lovecraft and first introduced in the short story "The Call of Cthulhu", published in the American pulp magazine Weird Tales in 1928. Considered a Great Old One within the pantheon of Lovecraftian cosmic entities, the creature has since been featured in numerous popular culture references. Lovecraft depicts Cthulhu as a gigantic entity worshipped by cultists. Cthulhu's appearance is described as looking like an octopus, a dragon, and a caricature of human form. Its name was given to the Lovecraft-inspired universe where it and its fellow entities existed, the Cthulhu Mythos.

Cthulhu Mythos

The Cthulhu Mythos is a shared fictional universe, originating in the works of American horror writer H. P. Lovecraft. The term was coined by August Derleth, a contemporary correspondent and protégé of Lovecraft, to identify the settings, tropes, and lore that were employed by Lovecraft and his literary successors. The name Cthulhu derives from the central creature in Lovecraft's seminal short story, "The Call of Cthulhu", first published in the pulp magazine Weird Tales in 1928.Richard L. Tierney, a writer who also wrote Mythos tales, later applied the term "Derleth Mythos" to distinguish Lovecraft's works from Derleth's later stories, which modify key tenets of the Mythos. Authors of Lovecraftian horror in particular frequently use elements of the Cthulhu Mythos.

Cubicle 7

Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd is a British games company that creates and publishes tabletop games. Best known for its Doctor Who and Lord of the Rings games, Cubicle 7 offers titles covering a range of licensed and self-developed properties.

Dark Adventure Radio Theatre

Dark Adventure Radio Theatre is a series of radio dramas produced by the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society. They are produced in the style of 1930s radio drama, and the Dark Adventure Radio Theatre resembles a Mercury Theatre production hosted by the fictional "Chester Langfield" and "sponsored" by "Fleur-de-Lys Cigarettes". However, the character "died" of emphysema after the fourth production (The Shadow Over Innsmouth) and was replaced by the equally fictional "Erskine Blackwell," the new "sponsor" being "Forhan's Toothpaste." In the 2014 production, The Dreams in the Witch House, the sponsor became "Bub-L-Pep", a lithium-based drink. The series features casts of professional actors and original music. The CD releases include four prop documents, such as newspaper clippings, etc., from the show.

Currently released productions:

Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: At the Mountains of Madness (2007)

Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: The Dunwich Horror (2008)

Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: The Shadow Out of Time (2008-10-01)

Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: The Shadow Over Innsmouth (2008-12)

Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: The Call of Cthulhu (2012-11)

Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: The Case of Charles Dexter Ward (2013-03)

Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: The Color Out of Space (2013)

Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: Herbert West - Reanimator (2013)

Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: The Dreams in the Witch House (2014)

Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: Imprisoned with the Pharaohs (2014)

Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: The Horror at Red Hook (2015)

Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: Dagon: War of Worlds (2015)

Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: A Solstice Carol (2015)

Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: The White Tree (2016)

Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: The Thing on the Doorstep (2016)

Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: The Brotherhood of the Beast (2016)

Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: The Haunter of the Dark (2017)

Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: The Rats in the Walls (2017)

Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar (2017)

Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: Bad Medicine (2018)

Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: Masks of Nyarlathotep (2019)

Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family

"Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family" is a short story in the horror fiction genre, written by American author H. P. Lovecraft in 1920. The themes of the story are tainted ancestry, knowledge that it would be best to remain unaware of, and a reality which human understanding finds intolerable.

Gamle Oslo

Gamle Oslo is a district of the city of Oslo, Norway. The name means "Old Oslo".

The district has several landmarks and large parks, including the Edvard Munch Museum, the Botanical Gardens and a medieval park.

During the time that present Oslo was named Christiania, this area was called Oslo. H. P. Lovecraft alludes to the fact in his story The Call of Cthulhu:

One autumn day I landed at the trim wharves in the shadow of the Egeberg. Johansen's address, I discovered, lay in the Old Town of King Harald Hardrada, which kept alive the name of Oslo during all the centuries that the greater city masqueraded as "Christiana".

Neighborhoods of Oslo belonging to this district are:












The district also includes islands and islets in the Oslofjord: Kavringen, Nakholmen, Lindøya, Hovedøya, Bleikøya, Gressholmen, Rambergøya, Langøyene and Heggholmen.

In the municipal election of 2007 all district councils became elective, until then most had been appointed by the city council. Labour became the largest party with 5 representatives, the Socialist Left have 3, the Conservatives, Liberals and the Red Electoral Alliance 2 each, and the Progress party 1.

H. P. Lovecraft

Howard Phillips Lovecraft (US: ; August 20, 1890 – March 15, 1937) was an American writer who achieved posthumous fame through his influential works of horror fiction. He was virtually unknown and published only in pulp magazines before he died in poverty, but he is now regarded as one of the most significant 20th-century authors of horror and weird fiction.Lovecraft was born in Providence, Rhode Island, where he spent most of his life. Among his most celebrated tales are "The Rats in the Walls", "The Call of Cthulhu", At the Mountains of Madness, The Shadow over Innsmouth, and The Shadow Out of Time, all canonical to the Cthulhu Mythos. Lovecraft was never able to support himself from earnings as an author and editor. He saw commercial success increasingly elude him in this latter period, partly because he lacked the confidence and drive to promote himself. He subsisted in progressively strained circumstances in his last years; an inheritance was completely spent by the time he died, at age 46.

H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society

The H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society or HPLHS is the organization that hosts Cthulhu Lives!, a group of live-action roleplayers for the Cthulhu Live version of Call of Cthulhu. Founded in Colorado in 1984, it is now based in Glendale, California. Their motto is Ludo Fore Putavimus ("We thought it would be fun").HPLHS produces a number of Cthulhu Mythos films and sound recordings, under its Mythoscope and Mythophone labels, respectively. They also offer props, both for sale and for free download.

John Scott Tynes

John Scott Tynes (born 1971) is an American writer best known for his work on role-playing games such as Unknown Armies, Delta Green, Puppetland, and for his company, Tynes Cowan Corporation. Under its imprint, Pagan Publishing, Tynes Cowan Corp. produces third-party books for the Call of Cthulhu role-playing game under license from Chaosium as well as fiction and non-fiction books under its imprint, Armitage House.


R'lyeh is a fictional lost city that first appeared in the H. P. Lovecraft short story "The Call of Cthulhu", first published in Weird Tales in June 1928. In the story, R'lyeh is a sunken city in the South Pacific and the prison of the entity called Cthulhu.

The nightmare corpse-city of R'lyeh…was built in measureless eons behind history by the vast, loathsome shapes that seeped down from the dark stars. There lay great Cthulhu and his hordes, hidden in green slimy vaults.

The Call of Cthulhu (film)

The Call of Cthulhu is a 2005 independent silent film adaptation of the H. P. Lovecraft short story "The Call of Cthulhu", produced by Sean Branney and Andrew Leman and distributed by the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society. It is the first film adaptation of the famous Lovecraft story, and uses Mythoscope, a blend of vintage and modern filming techniques intended to produce the look of a 1920s-era film. The film is the length of a featurette.

The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories

The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories is Penguin Classics' first omnibus edition of works by seminal 20th-century American author H. P. Lovecraft. It was released in October 1999 and is still in print. The volume is named for the Lovecraft short story, "The Call of Cthulhu".

This edition, the first new paperback publication of Lovecraft's works since the Del-Rey editions, contains a new introduction and explanatory notes on individual stories by noted Lovecraft scholar S. T. Joshi. The texts of the stories are, for the most part, the same corrected versions found in the earlier Arkham House editions of Lovecraft's works, also edited by Joshi, with a few further errors corrected for the present editions.

Its companion volumes from Penguin Classics are The Thing on the Doorstep and Other Weird Stories (2001), and The Dreams in the Witch House and Other Weird Stories (2004).

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