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Title: R'lyeh  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Fictional prisons, H. P. Lovecraft, Shub-Niggurath, Ramsey Campbell, Non-Euclidean geometry
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


The location of R'lyeh given by Lovecraft was 47°9′S 126°43′W in the southern Pacific Ocean. August Derleth placed it at 49°51′S 128°34′W. Both locations are close to the Pacific pole of inaccessibility or "Nemo" point, 48°52.6′S 123°23.6′W, a point in the ocean farthest from any land mass.

R'lyeh is a fictional lost city that first appeared in the H. P. Lovecraft short story "The Call of Cthulhu", first published in Weird Tales in 1928. According to Lovecraft's short story, R'lyeh is a sunken city in the South Pacific and the prison of the entity called Cthulhu.

The nightmare corpse-city of R'lyeh…was built in measureless eons 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.
—H. P. Lovecraft, "The Call of Cthulhu" (1928)

R'lyeh is characterized by bizarre architecture likened to non-Euclidean geometry. Norwegian sailor Gustaf Johansen, the narrator of one of the tales in the short story, describes the accidental discovery of the city: "a coast-line 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...loathsomely redolent of spheres and dimensions apart from ours".[1] The short story also asserts the premise that while currently trapped in R'lyeh, Cthulhu will eventually return, with worshipers often repeating the phrase Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn: "In his house at R'lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming".[1]

Lovecraft claims R'lyeh is located at in the southern Pacific Ocean.[1] Writer August Derleth, a contemporary correspondent of Lovecraft and co-creator of the Cthulhu Mythos, placed R'lyeh at .[2] The latter coordinates place the city approximately 5,100 nautical miles (9,400 km) from the actual island of Pohnpei (Ponape), the location of the fictional "Ponape Scripture". Both locations are close to the Pacific pole of inaccessibility (), a point in the ocean farthest from any land mass.

In Brian Lumley's Primal Land short story "The House of Cthulhu", the island is referred to as "Arlyeh".[3]

Charles Stross's novella A Colder War implicitly locates R'lyeh in the Baltic Sea, describing Cthulhu as being "scraped from a nest in the drowned wreckage of a city on the Baltic floor".[4]

The Tsuburaya Productions tokusatsu series Ultraman Tiga places R'lyeh in the South Pacific, and the series' antagonist, Gatanozoa (who is an alternate version of Cthulhu's son, Ghatanothoa), was born there.

See also


  1. ^ a b c H. P. Lovecraft, "The Call of Cthulhu" (1928)
  2. ^ Derleth, A. The Black Island (1952)
  3. ^ Lumley, B. (2007). "The House of Cthulhu". The House of Cthulhu: Tales of the Primal Land, Volume 1 (1st trade pbk. ed.). New York: Tor. p. 87.  
  4. ^ Stross, C. A Colder War (1997)


External links

  • A Colder War, Charles Stross (1997)
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