S. Latitude 47°9′, W. Longitude 126°43′


Then, driven ahead by curiosity in their captured yacht under Johansen’s command, the men sight a great stone pillar sticking out of the sea, and in S. Latitude 47°9′, W. Longitude 126°43′, come upon a coastline of mingled mud, ooze, and weedy Cyclopean masonry which can be nothing less than the tangible substance of earth’s supreme terror—the nightmare corpse-city of R’lyeh, that was built in measureless aeons behind history by the vast, loathsome shapes that seeped down from the dark stars. There lay great Cthulhu and his hordes, hidden in green slimy vaults and sending out at last, after cycles incalculable, the thoughts that spread fear to the dreams of the sensitive and called imperiously to the faithful to come on a pilgrimage of liberation and restoration.

HP Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu (1928)

“Great Cthulhu and his hordes…” People never mention the hordes, do they? I’m pleased to say that the loathsome horde gathered in my forthcoming Cthulhu Calendar are in situ at last, since I’ve found the time this week to get everything finished. I still need to write a couple of new web pages then upload all the images to CafePress. I’ll be doing that over the weekend so Monday will be the launch day.

For the final piece I decided against doing another portrait in favour of a picture of an attack at sea as it might have appeared in a 19th-century newspaper. This kind of imagery will now make many people think of the Kraken scenes in the second Pirates of the Caribbean film but it predates cinema, of course, as it also predates Lovecraft. Despite Lovecraft’s indelible association with monstrous tentacles there are a lot more incidents of this nature in William Hope Hodgson’s stories and novels than in the Cthulhu Mythos. In which case this scene, which will be the page for December, can be regarded as a tip of the hat to William as much as to Howard.

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9 thoughts on “S. Latitude 47°9′, W. Longitude 126°43′”

  1. Cormac McCarthy gets a mention in that first piece as well.

    There’s no mention of Melville in the Sprague de Camp biography but that doesn’t mean HPL hadn’t read him. He did read widely, and I imagine he would have enjoyed Melville’s use of language.

  2. Thank you, John, for reminding me that R’lyeh was placed by Lovecraft in the South Pacific, in what appears to have been the center of the Ring of Fire. I had been tempted in the writing of my first novel (which I privately refer to as ‘my Cthulhu comedy’, and which is almost done now) mistakenly to place the Dead City in the Challenger region of the Marianas Trench.

    But be assured, I have not forgotten the accompanying hordes, and when the Great God makes Its appearance, they will not be absent from the scene.

    And thank you, Mr. McCann, for your references to Neil Gaiman’s “I, Cthulhu”. While I prefer “Scream for Jeeves”, insofar as the pastiche of Lovecraft and Wodehouse in it avoids the campiness of Gaiman’s cute little story, the first person narrative from the point of view of the Tentacled One did manage to draw a chuckle or two from me.

  3. Hi Bernard. Lovecraft’s siting of R’lyeh is cleverly at the point in the world’s largest ocean that’s the farthest away from dry land, something I’d never realised until I adapted the story and checked the reference. It’s the accumulation of that kind of detail that helps make the story so effective.

  4. At some point I’m going to get a T-shirt printed with ‘S. Latitude 47°9?, W. Longitude 126°43?’ on it. Esoteric, innit?

  5. Alan Moore also did a PG Wodehouse/HPL pastiche in one of his LoEG volumes . I wonder if anyone else has done a good one?

  6. Gabriel,

    I know of no other such pastiches, but I recall that in the preface to ‘Scream for Jeeves’, the author touched upon a number of other such HPL and Wodehouse pastiches, including some, er, rather gay and fun-loving ones (hint: think Bertie as a Beardsleyesque dandy). When I have recovered my library (alas now mostly in boxes), I’ll give it a look.


    I think such a shirt would be lovely. And I also think that when some visionary does a motion picture of “The Call of Cthulhu” which is worth of HPL’s vision, a good promo for that movie would be a black shirt which has, in white letters, on the front:

    S. Latitude 47° 9′, W Latitude 126° 43′

    and in the same color and font on the back:

    It waits.

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