The Book of Cthulhu: Can It Help You? Can It Hurt You? Will It Improve You?

Book of c--cover

The Book of Cthulhu: Can It Help You? Can It Hurt You? Will It Improve You? For those who have been asleep for a long time or simply mindful of Much Different Things—like daffodils, 30 Rock, or cat videos—H. P. Lovecraft (1890 - 1937) was perhaps the most influential twentieth-century American author of weird fiction. Lovecraft’s fiction did not become popular overnight: he had a cult readership during his lifetime, and readers could be put off by a worldview that reflected the idea of “cosmic horror.” Lovecraft believed that the universe was a cold, hostile place. Despite this, he became increasingly popular, to the point that creations like the Cthulhu Mythos have entered our common lexicon.

The Cthulhu Mythos story cycle has taken on a convoluted, cyclopean life of its own—as evidenced by this latest anthology edited by Ross Lockhart, The Book of Cthulhu, which includes material by the likes of Caitlin R. Kiernan, Joe R. Lansdale, Elizabeth Bear, and Charles Stross.

These semi-confessional accounts of horror, terror, and the unknown inspired by Lovecraft are…. oddly inspirational and life-affirming. It’s not just that nothing really makes you appreciate Something like life more than being chased by some oozy Shadowy Nothing through a dark forest strewn with odd ruins. A deeper impulse seemed at work, too, in many, many of the stories. Why, there was even what appeared to be useful advice for the modern reader!

Could it be that the lessons taught by Lovecraft were less mechanistic and existential, less hideous and ritualistic, than I had thought? I had to get to the bottom of this strange phenomenon—by interviewing the editor... Book of Cthulhu is an anthology of tales inspired by Lovecraft, and yet it’s rumored you’re touting it as a self-help book, too. Was Lovecraft known for his good life advice?

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Comments (2)

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Posted by: Naruto Shippuden The Movie | Monday October 24, 2011 at 11:30 PM

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Posted by: die steel | Monday December 19, 2011 at 5:34 PM

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