8

The Cthulhu Mythos is a pretty huge topic. It spans multiple authors and decades.

I'm not after a complete list, in fact I'm most interested in the first phase, the one directed by HPL, not the second directed by Derleth. And only where reading out of order might cause confusion.

What order should I read them in? Are there any dependencies between authors versions of characters?

  • I do not think there is an order. The expended mythos is vast and still expending: Charles Stross, Caitlín Rebekah Kiernan, and Niel Gaiman are but three examples that are all continuing to expend Lovecraft's mythos but none of them fit in the same interpretation of it. – Sardathrion Oct 25 '12 at 8:34
  • @Sardathrion none of those are in the first phase, which is largely my sphere of interest, and also there is likely no confusion over reused characters etc. I'm really think of other authors who've picked up on Randolph Carter, or I think, some of the staff at the Miskatonic university. – AncientSwordRage Oct 25 '12 at 8:54
  • Are you looking for some sort of official order? If not, I'm not certain if we can get a "right" answer here, although I suppose there are authorities one can appeal to, some sort of "Official HP Lovecraft Fanclub". – FuzzyBoots Sep 7 '18 at 11:18
  • On a related note, if you are looking for the original HPL ones, try this link; they've gone past copyright and a nice lady collected them into one book in multiple e-reader formats. – K-H-W Sep 7 '18 at 13:44
  • @FuzzyBoots no, it needn't be official. I'm only looking to avoid where a set of stories make a series (The ones with Randolph, for instance) where some chronalogical order is obvious. – AncientSwordRage Sep 7 '18 at 14:27
3

A number of Lovecraft stories have fictional dates. Those that have dates can be read in the order of their fictional dates.

I believe that the action in "The Dunwich Horror" and "The Whisperer in Darkness" partially overlaps, and Fritz Leiber, who called that fictional year (1928?) the "great year" of the mythos, speculated that the heroes of the 2 stories might have passed each other in the Arkham train station setting out on their travels.

Stories with Randolph Carter can be read in the order of his fictional biography if one can figure it out.

Here is a timeline of the Cthulhu Mythos, though it includes many events from many stories and the dates of the stories by Lovecraft aren't found until near the end:

Or they can be read in the order of first publication.

Here is one list.

2

These were stories that often were published in the pulp magazines of the time. Certainly HPL didn't write them with the intent that there be a certain order. I haven't completed his entire list either, but I have not noticed anything that would suggest that there is some order that is superior to any other, even a random one. Where things are mentioned before you've become familiar enough with them to understand, these can be viewed as mysteries that might be explained in another story.

Now, when it comes to Stephen King's works, his stories do make more sense after reading HPL. Charles Stross's works borrow heavily from the mythos (and not all are tongue-in-cheek), and benefit from having read HPL first. Derleth isn't worth reading in my opinion. He borrows names (and HPL encouraged this, so it's not really stealing) but never can manage the same sort of atmosphere.

  • 1
    H. P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith and Robert Howard borrowed each other's work quiet frequently. – Sardathrion Oct 26 '12 at 7:39
  • 1
    There is a relatively new movement of Mythos publishing what started about a decade ago—with Chaosium at the forefront—mixing the Mythos with other genres. High Seas Cthulhu, Frontier Cthulhu, Arkham Tales, the most excellent Sherlock Holmes crossover collection, Shadows Over Baker Street, as well as Cthulhu Unbound, of which i co-edited two volumes. (There is a third.) – Thom Brannan Mar 7 '13 at 4:46

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