Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!

Matthew Ralston

More stories from Matthew Ralston


H.P. Lovecraft is the master of weird horror. His short stories have inspired hundreds of story writers, video games and shows. This is to be expected as Lovecraft is the pioneer of his own type of horror, dealing with themes of helplessness and uncertainty, most characters in Lovecraft’s literature don’t know whats going on around them, often going insane if they try to figure it out. His literature often also deals with the fragile nature of sanity, and creatures that don’t make sense, driving those who see them insane. Lovecraft often presents us with creatures that are unexplainable, and don’t fit into our perceived reality, directly going against humanities need to understand and explain everything they see. In these stories, the madness the characters endure can often be called a mercy, leaving them without the mind to suffer the insane, unreal horrors Lovecraft presents us with.

Lovecraft’s most famous work is most assuredly The Call of Cthulhu where he speaks of an ancient deity known as Cthulhu, who is in a form of “death sleep”, in the novel they describe Cthulhu’s cultists saying “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!” or “In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.” This entity, has become a more mainstream piece of Lovecraft’s works, and the spread of this literature often leads to more and more people finding out about his literature.

Many people have wondered what ended up driving Lovecraft to write about such, unknowable insanity inducing creatures. When Lovecraft was young, he witnessed his father gain a mental illness from a case of untreated syphilis and be admitted to a hospital for 5 years, after which his father died. After his fathers death, he gained a love and interest in astronomy and reading, staying home and reading the works of Edgar Allen Poe and others. He had an unhealthily close relationship with his mother, where his mother would switch between intense love for her son and hatred for him. His mother a while later had a nervous breakdown and would three days later die in a hospital. While nobody could know for sure why he wrote literature of helplessness and insanity, most believe the childhood marked by tragedy and sickness caused some of it.

He was the first to introduce us to the ancient beings who were before us, who we couldn’t hope to understand or contain, and who would eventually destroy humanity, without barely a thought about it. Parts and pieces of his stories would later end up in others stories, such as Welcome to Night Vale about a town where nothing makes sense, and yet it’s all completely normal, or in the aboleths and beholders of Dungeons and Dragons horrifying creatures from a plane of madness and unfamiliarity.

Lovecraft’s literature is a spectacular form of fiction, that can only be fathomed and explained by reading it, and we have yet to see an author do Cosmic Horror better than H.P. Lovecraft.