At the Mountains of Madness and Other Novels Analysis

The Plot (Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

At the Mountains of Madness and Other Novels, which contains the title novella and several of H. P. Lovecraft’s longer tales, was first published in 1964 by Arkham House, the Sauk City, Wisconsin, publishing house created in 1939 by Donald Wandrei and August Derleth for the primary purpose of making Lovecraft’s work generally available to the American public. Until then, Lovecraft’s tales had appeared only in the pages of such “pulp fiction” magazines as Weird Tales and were known to relatively few readers. By the 1950’s, however, thanks to the efforts of Wandrei, Derleth, and other loyal members of the Lovecraft “circle,” Lovecraft generally was recognized as the finest twentieth century American writer of horror fiction.

Although Lovecraft tried his hand at many kinds of horror story, he is best remembered for his tales of cosmic horror based on the so-called “Cthulhu Mythos.” These dozen or so tales, which include both At the Mountains of Madness and The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, employ a common background: the idea that Earth was inhabited for eons before the appearance of humans by a race of extraterrestrial/other-dimensional beings whose tremendous powers dwarf those of humankind. These beings, which Lovecraft calls the Old Ones, continue to exist both outside the earthly dimensions inhabited by humans and, more threateningly, in crypts hidden deep within the planet’s surface or below the...

(The entire section is 583 words.)