for a full article on the the literary history of the Mythos, see Cthulhu Mythos
For the purposes of an encyclopedic approach to the complete extended Lovecraft cosmos-at-large, or Cthulhu Mythos, a certain organizing principle is necessary. This order while perhaps complicated at first glance is based on the examinations of Lovecraft scholar Robert Price and a further analysis of the current total works in the Mythos and those surrounding the mythos. It may be understood by the accompanying diagram.
"The Greater Cthulhu Mythos" is divided into concentric rings or circles. Larger rings accept information of the rings they enclose, but not the other way around. Thus, The Extended Cthulhu Mythos builds (selectively) on stories and facts from The Derleth "Cthulhu Mythos", The "Lovecraft Circle" Myth Cycles and The Lovecraft Myth Cycle and The Weird Tales, and The Derleth "Cthulhu Mythos" excludes the Extended Mythos, and so on as one approaches the "Core".
"Mythos Adjacent Works" include stories, films, et al that include elements lifted an part or in total from the Mythos, but were not by their creators intended to be a part of the Cthulhu Mythos. This would include works like the Hyborian Tales of Robert E. Howard, which share book titles and certain creatures, and the Army of Darkness film in which the Necronomicon is a central plot element.
"Mythos Influenced Works" include stories, films, et al that include clear or subtle reference to Lovecraftian themes, creatures, etc. The creators of these works generally acknowledge their debt to Lovecraft and the way in which it has influenced their work. This would include the Hellboy comic book stories that include strong cosmic horror themes, and of which Mike Mignola has given great credit to Lovecraft for inspiration. This also includes television shows like the X-Files that bear similar themes and structure to Lovecraft's works.
Understanding this approach to the MythosEdit
It is the philosophy of this wiki to be as inclusive as possible, and the following categories represent an attempt of finding an overall harmony by which to organize the works of the Mythos.
It may well be argued that all works in the "Greater Cthulhu Mythos" may be universally reconciled, if not harmonized, by virtue of the first-person and third person limited perspectives in which the majority of the works in the Greater Cthulhu Mythos are written.
If we are to take all accounts of every narrator as gospel, then there can be no reconciliation of the facts. However, if one begins with the idea that the observations and accounts made by all of the narrators are merely grasping at the straws of the incomprehensible universe Lovecraft originally envisions, there is at the very least a cohesive whole. This is to say, each main character/narrator (many of which assert their unreliability) is at best partially correct, and the information they acquire in the course of their uncanny experiences is of even lesser reliability.
Lovecraft reminds us that we cannot understand the universe as it is, and perhaps gives us the key to the "harmony" of the Mythos: it is only discord. However, it is the opinion of most current Lovecraft scholars, and of this wiki, that the closer one comes to the original Lovecraft Myth Cycle, the closer to the "truth" one gets.
There can never be a true accounting or authoritative canon, but one can gather the facts as they are presented and organize them in a coherent way. The following is an attempt to do so.
The Greater Cthulhu MythosEdit
The term "Greater Cthulhu Mythos" is an attempt by this wiki to create a big tent under which all Mythos works might be collected.
There can be no debate that the Mythos has expanded rapidly since its birth, and that the works subsequent to Lovecraft's death contain material that has become problematic when compared to the vision Lovecraft laid out not only in his stories, but in his essays concerning his philosophy of horror writing.
This said, the enduring value of Lovecrafts vision, and the abundance of works written in the Mythos demand that there be some larger category in which all such works can find a home, regardless of accepted quality or adherence to a "canon".
The Weird TalesEdit
This tiny category contains the handful of stories that were "acquired" by Lovecraft for his Myth Cycle. This includes Robert W. Chambers' The King in Yellow, and Ambrose Bierce's An Inhabitant in Carcosa, among a few others.
The Lovecraft Myth CycleEdit
The Lovecraft Myth Cycle specifically refers to works written by H.P. Lovecraft alone, were completed before his death in 1937 and published during his lifetime or soon thereafter. These are generally believed to be the most distilled heart of the Mythos. This is not in any way to suggest that these works were not influenced or heavily edited by others, rather that they may be understood as "most true" to Lovecraft's individual vision.
His solo fictional works that are generally considered mythos works are:
- At the Mountains of Madness (1931)
- Azathoth (1922)
- The Call of Cthulhu (1926)
- The Case of Charles Dexter Ward (1927)
- The Cats of Ulthar (1920)
- Celephaïs (1920)
- The Colour out of Space (1927)
- Dagon (1917)
- The Descendant (1926?)
- The Doom That Came to Sarnath (1919)
- The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath (1926–1927)
- The Dreams in the Witch-House (1932)
- The Dunwich Horror (1928)
- The Festival (1923)
- From Beyond (1920)
- The Haunter of the Dark (1935)
- Herbert West--Reanimator (1921–1922)
- History of the Necronomicon (1927)
- The Hound (1922)
- The Nameless City (January 1921)
- Nyarlathotep (1920)
- The Other Gods (1921)
- The Outsider (1921)
- Pickman's Model (1926)
- The Picture in the House (1920)
- Polaris (1918)
- The Quest of Iranon (1921)
- The Rats in the Walls (1923)
- The Shadow Out of Time (1934–1935)
- The Shadow Over Innsmouth(1931)
- The Silver Key (1926)
- The Statement of Randolph Carter (1919)
- The Strange High House in the Mist (1926)
- The Terrible Old Man (28 January 1920)
- The Thing on the Doorstep (1933)
- The Unnamable (short story) (1923)
- The Whisperer in Darkness (1930)
- The White Ship (1919)
His poetical works in the Mythos are:
His additional works that may or may not be related to the Mythos are:
- The Alchemist (1908)
- The Beast in the Cave (1905)
- Beyond the Wall of Sleep (1919)
- The Book (1933)
- Cool Air (1926)
- The Evil Clergyman (1933)
- Ex Oblivione (1920/21)
- Facts concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family (1920)
- The Haunted House (1898/1902; nonextant)
- He (1925)
- The Horror at Red Hook (1925)
- Hypnos (1922)
- Ibid (1928?)
- In the Vault (1925)
- John, the Detective (1898/1902; nonextant)
- Life and Death (1920?; lost)
- The Little Glass Bottle (1897)
- The Lurking Fear (1922)
- Memory (1919)
- The Moon-Bog (1921)
- The Music of Erich Zann (1921)
- The Mysterious Ship (1902)
- The Mystery of the Grave-Yard (1898)
- The Mystery of Murdon Grange (1918; nonextant)
- The Noble Eavesdropper (1897?; nonextant)
- Old Bugs (1919)
- The Picture (1907; nonextant)
- A Reminiscence of Dr. Samuel Johnson (1917)
- The Secret of the Grave (1898/1902; nonextant)
- The Secret Cave or John Lees Adventure (1898)
- Discarded Draft of The Shadow over Innsmouth (1931)
- The Shunned House (1924)
- The Street (1920?)
- Sweet Ermengarde (1917)
- The Temple (1920)
- The Tomb (June 1917)
- The Transition of Juan Romero (1919)
- The Tree (1920)
- The Very Old Folk (1927)
- What the Moon Brings (1922)
The "Lovecraft Circle" Myth CyclesEdit
The "Lovecraft Circle" Myth Cycles compose the rest of the "core" stories of the Mythos Proper. These are the stories written by Lovecraft's contemporaries, either co-authored with him or under his supervision and in concordance with his vision. Many were written in part or entirely before Lovecraft's death in 1937, and are generally regarded as being accepted by Lovecraft as adhering with his vision. Other writings by these writer cohorts constitute the rest of the stories in this category.
Traditionally, the "Lovecraft Circle" has been limited to Robert Bloch, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, Frank Belknap Long, and August Derleth (who's works are in a different category). However, it would seem appropriate to expand that circle to include his other contemporary collborators, and those whose writings he revised and expanded upon: Zealia Bishop, Hazel Heald, Adolphe de Castro, and the numerous other writers he worked with over his lifetime.
Co-written stories that are consider in the Mythos include:
- The Challenge from Beyond (with C. L. Moore; A. Merritt; Robert E. Howard, and Frank Belknap Long; 1935)
- The Crawling Chaos (with Winifred V. Jackson; 1920/21)
- The Curse of Yig (with Zealia Bishop; 1928)
- The Diary of Alonzo Typer (with William Lumley; 1935)
- The Electric Executioner (with Adolphe de Castro; 1929?)
- The Green Meadow (with Winifred V. Jackson; 1918/19)
- The Horror in the Museum (with Hazel Heald; 1932)
- The Last Test (with Adolphe de Castro; 1927)
- The Man of Stone (with Hazel Heald; 1932)
- Medusa's Coil (with Zealia Bishop; 1930)
- The Mound (with Zealia Bishop; 1929–1930)
- Out of the Aeons (with Hazel Heald; 1933)
- Through the Gates of the Silver Key (with E. Hoffmann Price; 1932–1933)
- Under the Pyramids (with Harry Houdini; 1924)
- Winged Death (with Hazel Heald; 1933)
Co-written stories that may or may not be considered to be in the Mythos include:
- The Disinterment (with Duane W. Rimel; 1935)
- The Ghost-Eater (with C. M. Eddy, Jr.; 1923)
- The Hoard of the Wizard-Beast (with R. H. Barlow; 1933)
- The Horror at Martin’s Beach (with Sonia H. Greene; 1922)
- The Horror in the Burying-Ground (with Hazel Heald; 1933/35)
- In the Walls of Eryx (with Kenneth Sterling; 1936)
- The Loved Dead (with C. M. Eddy, Jr.; 1923)
- The Night Ocean (with R. H. Barlow; 1936)
- Poetry and the Gods (with Anna Helen Crofts; 1920)
- The Slaying of the Monster (with R. H. Barlow; 1933)
- “Till A’ the Seas” (with R. H. Barlow; 1935)
- The Tree on the Hill (with Duane W. Rimel; 1934)
- Two Black Bottles (with Wilfred Blanch Talman; 1926)
The Derleth Cthulhu MythosEdit
This category includes all of August Derleth's work, and has been separated from the rest of the Mythos writings due to its unique and sometimes divergent vision from the previous categories.
After Lovecraft's death, August Derleth began to shape the existing Myth cycles of Lovecraft and the "Lovecraft Circle" into something he would call the "Cthulhu Mythos", which is the term which persists to this date. During his tenure as the one of the leading voices of Lovecraft's legacy, he was an extremely prolific writer to rival Lovecraft himself.
However, during that time he introduced certain concepts and themes into the Mythos that would become problematic for fans of the Lovecraft Myth Cycle and of the Lovecraft Circle Myth Cycles. Among these, were a concept of cosmic good and evil, a set of benevolent Elder Gods, and an elemental categorization of the existing Mythos deities. These ideas have been carried in some form the present Expanded Mythos, but many authors and creators have cherry-picked from Derleth's creations and some of the more troubling and divergent ideas have been ignored.
A complete list of these works can be found in his Mythos Bibliography.
The Expanded Cthulhu MythosEdit
This category includes all works of fiction, film and additional media not previously defined. This is by far the broadest and most diverse category.
After Lovecraft's death, his friends and admirers continued to write in his shared universe. Many imitators good and bad have come and gone, and a great number of popular authors from Neil Gaiman to Stephen King have contributed their voices to the Mythos. Additionally, there has been a myriad of content produced for video games, board games, and RPGs. All of these have grown the Cthulhu Mythos to what it is today.
Mythos Adjacent WorksEdit
This category contains all works that have either cross-pollinated with the Mythos, i.e. their ideas have been acquired by it, or all works which use some ideas from the Mythos, but are not directly set in the Mythos proper.
Mythos Inspired WorksEdit
This category includes works that draw upon themes and concepts that originated with the Mythos, but are not intended to be set within the same continuity or share the same characters, locations, etc.