Lovecraft’s Legendary Monster

Posted by: Nick Redfern on August 12th, 2013


My latest Lair of the Beasts article at, which begins like this…

“Imagine, if you dare, a real-life equivalent of H.P. Lovecraft’s most famous and legendary creation: the great Cthulhu. In the dark and disturbing pages of The Call of Cthulhu, Lovecraft gave a hideous description of the ominous nightmare.

“Cthulhu was, said Lovecraft, ‘A monster of vaguely anthropoid outline, but with an octopus-like head whose face was a mass of feelers, a scaly, rubbery-looking body, prodigious claws on hind and fore feet, and long, narrow wings behind.'”

Could there be a real-life equivalent? Maybe…

Nick Redfern About Nick Redfern
Punk music fan, Tennents Super and Carlsberg Special Brew beer fan, horror film fan, chocolate fan, like to wear black clothes, like to stay up late. Work as a writer.

10 Responses to “Lovecraft’s Legendary Monster”

  1. Insanity responds:

    Cthulhu Mythos scholars Robert Price, S. T. Joshi, and David Schultz have cited several literary works such as ‘The Kraken’ by Alfred Tennyson, ‘The Horla’ by Guy de Maupassant, ‘The Novel of the Black Seal’ by Arthur Machen, ‘The Story of Atlantis’ and ‘The Lost Lemuria’ by William Scott-Ellis, ‘The Gods of Pegana’ by Lord Dunsany, and ‘The Moon Pool’ by A. Merritt as sources of inspiration for Lovecraft’s ‘The Call of Cthulhu’ in which Cthulhu first appears. These works all contain similar themes as Lovecraft’s story, including a huge aquatic creature sleeping on the ocean’s bottom. I am not aware of any source said to be related to the Oklahoma Octopus.

  2. cryptokellie responds:

    When I was a younger more intrepid man, I was taken by the lure of arcane yearnings for travel to the lesser known latitudes of my youth. I was told that I indeed had a relative dwelling in the midwestern region of the country and took it upon myself to mount a visit to the midlands and try and contact this personnage with whom I shared the singular sir name; Covelraft. Travel back then was a far more arduous and taxing endeavour than ever would be nowadays and after a long and rattling train excursion, the rail’s line ending still days away from targeted destination, I finished the last leg of my trek by horse drawn wagon and finally arriving at the town of Derleth, situated deep inside the panhandle of Oklahoma. With the aide of somewhat crudely executed, hand scrawled map, I set to journey the remaining five miles of windswept country on foot. Not because, mind you, that I enjoyed hiking over any distance but due to the disturbing fact that I was unable to employ or cajole any other form of transportation to my relative’s last assumed address. After collecting what meager supplies that my wages and back would support, I started out to find my mysterious kinsperson and attemp to discover the nature of the eerie tales spun aboutby cousin by my closer relatives who were nontheless safely entrenched back home. No verdant landscape this, the barren flat vista spread out before me almost as an arid desert would be albite dotted with scrub pine, and various low forms of cacti surrounded not by sand exactly but a kind of grey dust that swirled around my feet and ankles but not behaving in tune with the prevail breeze, a light cross zephyr. I was reminded of the dark warnings that I had received from my Aunt and Uncle which told of the desolate days of the Great Dust Bowl in the thirties and some of the odd reports and mutterings spread by the locals about about the singular doings of my cousin and the relationship, if that could be the proper word, with the the surrounding townsfolk living in scattered shabby, ramshackle abodes that appeared occasionally off in the gritty distance. Gradually, I became aware of a peculiar shift in the texture of the landscape and soon the area began to support more growth of..well I wasn’t really able to place such oddly gnarled and twisting, reaching plants. This carpet of strange grayshrubweed, at once half cacti and yet somehow half seaweed soon supported what seemed to be a small forest of the same pale gnarlwood only now grasping upward in tainted mock tree form. While maneuvering down the small path that snaked it’s way through this out of place and uniformly unclean grown backwoods, I spied the elder decaying house of my lost kinswoman, my shadowy and whispered cousin, Octavia.

    Taken from the journal of Phillip Covelraft as a part of his narrative; “The Spawn of Elder Octavian”.

    Sorry Cryptos, being a Lovecraft fan…I couldn’t resist.

  3. springheeledjack responds:

    I can’t top that…I’m not even going to try.

    From what I know of cephalopods, I throw doubt on the fresh water variety, octopi being a little fragile despite their intelligence and ability to survive out of the water for a length of time, but I’d love someone to prove me wrong.

    If ever there was a model for the great Cthulhu, it would come from the ocean. While the kraken gets pointed toward, I always drew my images of the kraken from the tales of ships coming to a floating island where they would come ashore, even lighting a fire only to have the entire island move and finally submerge, taking sailors with it if they were too slow to get back to ship. In recent times, the giant squid has taken the moniker of the kraken, but giant squid never quite fit that model for me.

    Were they talking about some huge whale asleep on the surface, or does the deep indeed hold giant monsters that would ride in the company of Cthulhu and his companions…I’d name them, but I don’t want to get their attention…

  4. Insanity responds:

    Excellent work cryptokellie.

    Lovecraft was hired by another writer, Zealia Bishop, to write the story ‘The Mound’ on a very short plot synopsis; “There is an Indian mound near here, which is haunted by a headless ghost. Sometimes it is a woman.”

    Lovecraft may have been no more familiar with Oklahoma than anyone else, I do not know if he even visited the area, but he lived during a time where more of its history was in recent memory than it may be to us. The land now called Oklahoma has had a great deal of history involving Native Americans. Thousands of Native Americans were relocated to that area and the surrounding lands during the 19th century, and in the 1890s, that area was divided into two territories; the eastern part was Indian Territory and the western was Oklahoma Territory. During Lovecraft’s early life there were attempts to create an all-Indian state named Oklahoma as well as another named Sequoyah which would have been the eastern portion of Oklahoma. The Sequoyah Statehood Convention set the grounds for the Oklahoma Statehood Convention and two years after the attempt to form Sequoyah, Oklahoma was admitted into the Union. Oklahoma had only been part of the Union for about 20 years when Lovecraft wrote the story.

    Oklahoma may have simply been an ideal locale for a story plot involving an Indian mound given its history.

  5. cryptokellie responds:

    That’s was where I was headed with my spur of the moment, off the cuff Lovecraft fragment. The story would have evolved into a cross-over combining Indian burial mounds and a Cuthulu cult centering around the priestess figure, Octavia Covelraft, whom it seems made a pact with both Elder Gods and First Nation dieties to survive the Dust Bowl in the Thirties and the shuddering after effects of that unholy union. Perhaps one day, I’ll actually write it but I’m too busy being a sculptor at present.
    For a chilling blend of Cuthulu Mythos and the Old West, read “The Curse Of Yig” by afore mentioned Zealia Bishop and HPL himself. The final denouement is perhaps the most shocking of all the Mythos pantheon stories aitogether. The final sentence still packs a gruesome punch.

  6. cryptokellie responds:

    BTW; Lovecraft devotees…
    I’m aware that the original spelling is Cthulhu. My derivation is putting more emphasis on the “C” being pronounced almost as a sylable as I feel HPL would have wanted it to be. There are in fact many different spellings and variations on Cthulhu proper, spread out across the Mythos contributors. Lovecraft himself encouraged this but, if this were ever finished and submitted, I would then use the correct Cthulhu.
    Springheeledjack is correct in the last line of his post as I don’t want to have to start taping up the corners of my room either…

  7. Insanity responds:

    I honestly didn’t even notice you spelled it differently.

    Lovecraft himself gave several different ways to pronounce Cthulhu, and had said the one most often accepted is merely the closest the human vocal apparatus could achieved at reproducing an alien language. There is no truly correct way to spell or say it. When I ran some Call of Cthulhu RPGs, I would use whichever representation I wanted and could think of, including for the other entities that shall remain nameless.

    ‘The Curse of Yig’ is an excellent story. I have yet to read some of the other writers who delved into the Mythos, perhaps after I finish reading Poe.

    I think my next house will be built with round rooms and completely void of any corners.

  8. alan borky responds:

    Christ I need glasses!

    I was wond’rin’ which Lovecraft story featured two clowns sittin’ on Cthulu’s face!

    It was probably specialised stuff he knocked out for his Japanese fans although come to think of it they’d’ve probably wanted Cthulu sitting on the clowns’ faces!

  9. cryptokellie responds:

    That would be Cthuru…I bet Rovecraft has a big forrowing in Nipon.
    Sorry…I couldn’t resist.

  10. cryptokellie responds:

    Yes, I meant Nippon…a rittle too eager on the submit crick – ah click.

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