Monday, September 20, 2010

At the Mountains of Maddness

At the Mountains of Madness is one of Lovecraft's longest short stories.  It s in the form of a petition written by a geologist, William Dyer.  Dyer is trying to stop a public expedition to Antarctica based on the fact that his previous expedition to the frozen pole ended in catastrophe that he (almost) dare not speak of.

Previously, Dyer traveled to Antarctica with a group of scientists and explorers.  Once there, the party finds a dozen strange animal corpses buried in the ground.  They looked like nothing the scientists have ever seen before.  When some members of the team go missing, Dyer and his companion travel to the other side of the mountain where they find strange and ancient ruins of a civilization that has not yet been discovered.  The two land and enter the large complex of ruins... what they find there is both enlightening and mind-shatteringly horrific.

At the Mountains of Madness is a quality story.  There's a great mix of overt horror (i.e. the discovery of missing party members being slaughtered by some unknown - and intelligent - being) and the unknown.  What is more, The Mountains serves to further the mythology surrounding the Great Cthulhu - where it came from, what it did when it arrived, and what it is waiting for in order to rise once more.

The only thing that I didn't like as much about this story as some of the others is the ending.  Lovecraft is known for keeping things hidden from the reader (to keep them guessing and let their imagination roam) but it is just TOO ambiguous for my tastes.

All in all, At the Mountains of Madness is a worthwhile addition to your ever-growing knowledge of the Cthulhu Mythos.

You can read the full version online here.


  1. Yet another one that I've never read.

  2. I am in the middle of reading The Call of Cthulhu, up to part II, and am finding it an interesting read. Anyway, all that to say, I am even more curious about Lovecrafts's work, and am going to read this one next.
    Thanks for the links.

  3. I'd agree the ending is maddeningly (heh) ambiguous, but overall it is perhaps HPL's masterpiece.