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Cthulhu mythos

The meaning of «cthulhu mythos»

The Cthulhu Mythos is a mythopoeia and a shared fictional universe, originating in the works of American horror writer H. P. Lovecraft. The term was coined by August Derleth, a contemporary correspondent and protégé of Lovecraft, to identify the settings, tropes, and lore that were employed by Lovecraft and his literary successors. The name Cthulhu derives from the central creature in Lovecraft's seminal short story "The Call of Cthulhu", first published in the pulp magazine Weird Tales in 1928.[1]

Richard L. Tierney, a writer who also wrote Mythos tales, later applied the term "Derleth Mythos" to distinguish Lovecraft's works from Derleth's later stories, which modify key tenets of the Mythos.[2][3] Authors of Lovecraftian horror in particular frequently use elements of the Cthulhu Mythos.[4]: viii–ix 

In his essay "H. P. Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos", Robert M. Price described two stages in the development of the Cthulhu Mythos. Price called the first stage the "Cthulhu Mythos proper." This stage was formulated during Lovecraft's lifetime and was subject to his guidance. The second stage was guided by August Derleth who, in addition to publishing Lovecraft's stories after his death, attempted to categorize and expand the Mythos.[5]: 8 [6]: 5 

An ongoing theme in Lovecraft's work is the complete irrelevance of mankind in the face of the cosmic horrors that apparently exist in the universe. Lovecraft made frequent references to the "Great Old Ones", a loose pantheon of ancient, powerful deities from space who once ruled the Earth and have since fallen into a deathlike sleep.[4]: viii  While these monstrous deities were present in almost all of Lovecraft's published work (his second short story "Dagon", published in 1919, is considered the start of the mythos), the first story to really expand the pantheon of Great Old Ones and its themes is "The Call of Cthulhu", which was published in 1928.

Lovecraft broke with other pulp writers of the time by having his main characters' minds deteriorate when afforded a glimpse of what exists outside their perceived reality. He emphasized the point by stating in the opening sentence of the story that "The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents."[7]

Writer Dirk W. Mosig notes that Lovecraft was a "mechanistic materialist" who embraced the philosophy of cosmic indifference (Cosmicism). Lovecraft believed in a purposeless, mechanical, and uncaring universe. Human beings, with their limited faculties, can never fully understand this universe, and the cognitive dissonance caused by this revelation leads to insanity, in his view.[8][9]

There have been attempts at categorizing this fictional group of beings. Phillip A. Schreffler argues that by carefully scrutinizing Lovecraft's writings, a workable framework emerges that outlines the entire "pantheon"—from the unreachable "Outer Ones" (e.g., Azathoth, who occupies the centre of the universe) and "Great Old Ones" (e.g., Cthulhu, imprisoned on Earth in the sunken city of R'lyeh) to the lesser castes (the lowly slave shoggoths and the Mi-go).[10]

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