We cannot properly speak of horror fiction without mentioning the name H.P. Lovecraft, any more than we could do so without speaking of Edgar Allan Poe, whose complete works we featured in a post yesterday. Even now, as some of Lovecraft’s really vicious attitudes have come in for much critical reappraisal, the Lovecraftian is still a dominant form. Winners of the World Fantasy Award receive a bust of the author, and dark modern masters like Stephen King and Joyce Carol Oates admit that Lovecraft was “the twentieth century’s greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale” and “an incalculable influence on succeeding generations of writers of horror fiction.” His work, writes Salon, has influenced “everyone from the Argentinian metafictionist Jorge Luis Borges to the film director Guillermo del Toro, as well as untold number of rock bands and game designers.”
The early twentieth century author spent almost his entire life in the New England of his birth, drawing on its many oddities in obscure stories published in pulp magazines—notably the influential Weird Tales. Hypochondriac, hyper-sensitive, and reclusive in later life, Lovecraft survived on a dwindling inheritance and never achieved much recognition. But in death, he has spawned a formidable cult who immerse themselves in a universe created from references to the occult, demonology, and various mythological archetypes. However overwrought his prose, Lovecraft’s work can be situated in a long literary tradition of influence, and a Lovecraft circle continued to expand his vision of scientific and supernatural horror after his death.
Central to the Lovecraft cosmos are “The Old Ones,” a collection of powerful primordial beings, and their cult worshipers, first introduced in “The Call of Cthulhu” in 1926. At the top of the post, you can hear a dramatic reading of the story by Garrick Hagon. Just above hear a radio dramatization of “The Colour Out of Space,” which was collected in The Best American Short Stories in 1928, one of the few of Lovecraft’s works to receive such an honor in his lifetime. You’ll find much more Lovecraft read aloud on YouTube, including classic stories like “The Dunwich Horror,” “At The Mountains of Madness,” and “The Horror at Red Hook.”
Listening to Lovecraft is an excellent, as well as convenient, way to experience his work. His florid, often archaic, and melodramatic descriptions lend themselves perfectly to aural interpretations. Luckily for us, we have not one, but two audio book collections of nearly everything Lovecraft ever wrote. Just above, stream his complete public domain works, and see the Internet Archive for another audiobook set of his collected works. One of the reasons audio of Lovecraft is so plentiful is that most of his work is in the commons. SFF Audio has yet another huge collection of Lovecraft stories read aloud, downloadable as MP3s. Finally, if you somehow can’t find what you’re looking for at any of those links, you’re bound to at The World’s Largest H.P. Lovecraft Audio Links Gateway.
Should listening to Lovecraft whet your appetite for more, you may just be ready to start reading. Although Lovecraft’s fiction features what may be some of modern literature’s most dreadful monsters, the horror in his work is mostly existential, as characters confront a vast, malevolent and thoroughly alien universe that has no regard for human life whatsoever. But the persistent bleakness and doom of his vision is countered by an inexhaustibly rich imagination. In one of the opening sentences of “The Call of Cthulu,” Lovecraft writes, “the most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents,” perhaps the truest description of his own fictional cosmos. Lovecraft scholars and fans spend lifetimes sifting through his massive storehouse of weirdness. Whether you’re inclined to join them in the deep end, or just dip in a toe, you can find all of Lovecraft’s published work in various forms at the locations below.
- The Cthulhu Chick blog has a complete works of Lovecraft for Nook (ePub) and Kindle (MOBI), as well as in PDF
- Find an extensive collection of Lovecraft at the University of Adelaide’s online library, with HTML, ePub and Kindle.
- The H.P. Lovecraft Archive has a wealth of biographical information, and a huge collection of Lovecraft’s work, including his poetry, letters, journalism, literary criticism, and scientific, philosophical, and autobiographical essays. You’ll also find there articles, reviews, and other resources by foremost Lovecraft scholars like S.T. Joshi and Robert M. Price, as well as information on Lovecraftian influence in popular culture and links to further internet resources.
Given these resources, you should have no trouble becoming a Lovecraft expert by Halloween. Or, at the very least, picking out a few of his scariest stories to listen to and read aloud around a flickering jack o’ lantern or your collection of Cthulhu figurines.
Lovecraft’s works permanently reside in our twin collections: 1,000 Free Audio Books: Download Great Books for Free and 800 Free eBooks for iPad, Kindle & Other Devices
Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown (Free Documentary)
Read Hundreds of Free Sci-Fi Stories from Asimov, Lovecraft, Bradbury, Dick, Clarke & More
Download The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe: Macabre Stories as Free eBooks & Audio Books
Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness
This is wonderful! Big fan! Just saw there is a Lovecraft pinball machine coming soon.
Don’t know that I’d call Horror at Red Hook a Lovecraft classic.. It’s one of his worst stories, both in terms of the writing and the extremely racist content, and I believe HPL said as much himself.
“Don’t know that I’d call Horror at Red Hook a Lovecraft classic.. It’s one of his worst stories, both in terms of the writing and the extremely racist content, and I believe HPL said as much himself.”
OH OH OH, I must listen to that one first.
Nice collection :)
It sure sounds like Jeffrey Combs is narrating “From the Dark,” No. 2 track on the “Old Ones” playlist, which gives the whole thing a “Fight Club” aspect, because the story is told from the perspective of a character who is sidekick to Herbert West.
Also, all Lovecraft stories should be narrated by Jeffrey Combs.
Dave, if you were at all familiar with the author and his personal history, the alleged ‘racism’ would not be perceived as such. Howard was a product of his environment, and felt about foreigners of dark colours the same way that most folk did in his region. There was no Internet, no multi-culturalism awareness classes in pre-school, and no one to wag a finger at him when his only experience with the brothas was on the docks where moral compasses were lacking, or in similar situations where bias would be understandable.
Good stuff. Just listened to Call of Cthulhu whilst I tried to sleep. COULD NOT SLEEP! Very well read. Thank you for making this possible.
Maybe I have somehow missed it, is there “The Dreams in the Witch House” in the collection? Thanks.
it says it is all of HP’s stories, but I just tried to find The Outsider to no avail :/
I can’t help feeling the need to recommend The World’s Largest H. P. Lovecraft Audio Links Gateway! at:
I love this! I’ve been reading Lovecraft since at least my junior high school years. I learned of him from the ads in the back pages of Creepy, Eerie, Vampirella, & Famous Monsters of Filmland for paperback books of his stories.
Like at least one other person who commented on here, I was having trouble sleeping (almost always the case at night, but not so much during daylight hours), & found this wonderful site. I went to sleep with The Festival playing. That’s one of my favorites and one of the earliest H.P.L. stories I ever read.
God bless everyone responsible for this and the other incarnations of spreading the magnificent works of H.P.L. Merry Christmas to you all!
Josh et al,
The World of H. P. Lovecraft Audio group is now open on Facebook at:
I invite you to join and post about this page, and to also enjoy the links you’ll find there too.
You can also promote this page in the Lovecraft Related Press Releases Facebook group too at:
Thanks soo much,this is incredible!!!!!
The 3 most important books in my life are…The Tibetan Book Of The Dead, Carlos Castaneda” Don Juan Books, and HP Lovecraft books. HP LOVECRAFT was trying to get his readers to be aware of higher states of consciousness.After reading many people’s comments, I feel most people have missed the point HP was trying to get across.We have gotten lost in our own personal thoughts,and have missed out on so many beautiful things right in front of us. It’s so very sad and for almost all humans they don’t understand this until they are on their death bed. Have a good life and may you have a good death!
Why do you mention the racism in his stories? He lived in the early Twentieth Century that was still living much of the Nineteenth Century. You are making it sound as though he wrote it today. If I am writing today of a black man, I would not use the N word, but if I were speaking to someone from that period (1890-1937), it would almost be expected.
I was just watching the stars at the beach, and was thinking of Dan Colman and team and how grateful I am That Dan Colman turn me on to HP Lovecraft. Soon as I thought that, a shooting star went flying by. I said to my self, now that’s pretty cool. So I looked up at the sky and said H.P., if that’s you, send another shooting star, and sure enough, one goes flying by!!!!! I looked up at the sky and said,ok H.P.,but I got to know if this is truly cosmic,Send another shooting star and I’ll believe it’s really happening,sure enough right after I said that, The 3rd one went cruising by!!!!!!! My thanks to Dan Colman and Open culture for bringing H.P. Lovecraft into my life!!
i agree 100% m9s
It should be pointed out that the Cthulhu Chick compilation is not actually complete since it omits “Sweet Ermengarde” (and HPL’s juvenilia, but I could see why you’d omit those; “Sweet Ermengarde”, however, IS unquestionably a story by Lovecraft, and deliberately omitting it from a complete collection makes the collection incomplete).
yeah… racism is racism. “everyone was doing it” is not a valid excuse. i am a fan of hp lovecraft, but there is never any excuse for racism and xenophobia. also lovecraft’s level of racism stood out even by 1920’s standards. that’s like snoop telling you that you smoke too much weed.
Kirkus Reviews thinks it has found the new Lovecraft in Irish writer Stewart Stafford and his horror novel “The Vorbing”: “Stafford’s novel proceeds in a stately cadence that fans of H P Lovecraft and Lord Dunsany will appreciate.”
well i guess we should start burning books while we tear down statues and burn flags…destroying history is the fight of the weak.