I first encountered H.P. Lovecraft's work as a teenager. My entry point was the same as it was for most people -- the Cthulhu stories, which Del Rey had published in a series of paperbacks with appropriately gruesome covers. After a while, my interest waned and I sold my copies. Recently, though, a friend's interest prompted me to revisit Lovecraft, this time undertaking his entire opus. And I'm glad I did.
Reading a compendium of Lovecraft's work revealed to me both that his work consists of more than the Cthulhu mythos tales and that the Cthulhu tales embody the essence of his perspective. Taken together, the reflect the world-view of a old-line American WASP terrified by a world shaped by forces beyond his comprehension. This really comes across in stories like "The Street" and "Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family," which reflect a fear of immigrants and Africans every bit as deeply expressed as that of the old gods and other supernatural beings. While it was shocking to read those stores today, they really helped me to better understand Lovecraft as a writer, and for that I will always value the perspective they offer.