Literature: The Call of Cthulhu
The Call of Cthulhu
is arguably the most famous short story by horror writer HP Lovecraft
, and is often labelled as the point where Lovecraft's style really started started to take shape (you might say this story is where the Mythos grew the beard
). It is also the first story to refer to and the only piece written by Lovecraft himself to actually feature the famous Eldritch Abomination
who would later name the Cthulhu Mythos
as other writers took over.
The story is presented as a manuscript found among the belongings of the late Francis Wayland Thurston, which is used as a narrative which joins together three short stories, each bigger, darker, bleaker, and more memorable than the last. The first part begins with a document found by Thurston among the belongings of his late granduncle Professor Angell, which describes a series of conversations with a young sculptor named Henry Wilcox, who has been experiencing a series of strange dreams which have inspired him to carve a disturbing bas-relief. Over the course of several weeks, Wilcox and Angell meet, and the former describes his bizarre dreams in which he finds himself exploring the ruins of an unknown forgotten city
. The next part reveals why this is of interest to Professor Angell.
The second story tells of Inspector Legrasse, a police officer in New Orleans whose investigation of a series of disappearances leads him to a rather sinister cult worshiping a strange idol. The cultists are immediately arrested and taken to prison and the idol is confiscated. Legrasse then shares the idol among various archaeologists, including Professor Angell, hoping to gain answers as to its nature. Eventually through one man's testimony and the questioning of some of the cultists, Legrasse learns that the idol is "Great Cthulhu", a being worshiped by this cult which has presumably lived for centuries.
In the third and final part of the story, Thurston encounters a newspaper clipping describing the rescue of the lone survivor of the crew of Alert
, a Norwegian sailor named Gustaf Johansen. Thurston is eventually able to recover a journal Johansen wrote, which tells the tale of how he and his crew commandeered a yacht from a particularly sinister crew of men (implied to be cultists), and their arrival at the sunken city of R'lyeh, where Cthulhu himself is nearly released by mistake.
Adapted in 2005 into an impressive film by the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society. Incredibly faithful to the original text and presented in the form of a silent movie from the 1920's, a must-see for any Lovecraft or horror fan. There are also at least two radio adaptations; one by the Atlanta Radio Theater Company, and the other by Dark Adventure Radio Theater.
Not to be confused with the roleplaying game Call of Cthulhu
, or the YouTube
series Calls for Cthulhu
This story provides examples of: