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King in Yellow
     

King in Yellow

3.0 27
by Chambers, McClain (Editor)
 

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A reprint of the 1895 classic containing all of the original stories. Newly typeset and with a new introduction.

Overview

A reprint of the 1895 classic containing all of the original stories. Newly typeset and with a new introduction.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780971830509
Publisher:
Sattre Press
Publication date:
05/28/2002
Pages:
218
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

Read an Excerpt

from the Introduction:

To the extent that Robert W. Chambers (1865--1933) is remembered at all today, it is for The King in Yellow, an odd collection of supernatural and "French" stories first published in 1895. It was followed by a few science-fiction comedies which are still reprinted from time to time, and then by dozens of popular historical romances and "society" novels, now long out of print and apparently unlamented. That he was originally an artist and friend of the famous Charles Dana Gibson is now mostly forgotten; knowing this, the reader can guess that Chambers was an art student in the Latin Quarter and attended the schools mentioned in his stories.

For his weird tales, Chambers took some names from Ambrose Bierce, and his own stories were later mined by H. P. Lovecraft and the pulp magazine writers of his circle. Such usage has kept The King in Yellow, if not alive, then at least in the awareness of readers of the fantasy and horror genre. For all I know, the references have now spread to board games, rock music albums and cult television programs.

Like other readers of such literature, when I was young I enjoyed the supernatural stories in the first half of the book, but tended to skip over the tales of the artists' life in Paris in the second half. Indeed, several editions have omitted these stories entirely, substituting others more likely to appeal to the fantasy reader. However, as I grow older, the French stories appeal to me more and more. I am grateful for even a small glimpse into the author's youth in another time and place, now long gone. As an aside: the characters of these stories first appeared in Chambers' first book, In the Quarter, which appeared in 1894.

What is The King in Yellow about? ("There are so many things which are impossible to explain"). The title refers to a book within our book, actually to a play in two acts, and to a supernatural character within that play who we suspect also exists outside of it. We know very little of the contents of the play, but discover that it drives the reader insane and damns his soul. Yet the book is said to be beautiful, expressing the "supreme note of art." As such, the device is a perfect one for the Decadent time in which it was created, suggesting the flowers of evil, the admixture of life and decay, beauty and malevolence.

As we move into the French stories, the supernatural elements fade away. We still have the themes of the danger of too much knowledge, and of innocence threatened and protected. The stories are loosely connected but not presented in any sort of chronological order. In fact, the first, "The Repairer of Reputations," is set in the future of 1920, and one of the later stories, "The Street of the First Shell" is a realistic account of the siege of Paris in 1870. Did Chambers have a reason for arranging the book in this way? Perhaps he wanted to introduce some distance from the locus of horror, showing how evil ripples out from a center, never entirely vanishing, but diminishing and being conquered by love. As dark as his vision may be, hope and love are never absent.

A reader is allowed his favorites. I have two: "The Mask" features a striking combination of hope and the intimation of transcendence, set against the sinister background of Chambers' mythology. It is the most Catholic of his stories, a strain that runs through many of them. And, at six pages, "The Street of the Four Winds" is one of the most perfect short stories I know.

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King in Yellow 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Overall I liked it. A collection of short stories, the first several of which have a common theme where the play The King in Yellow, which supposed has the power to drive it's readers mad, appears. The supernatural, science fiction and horror aspects I quite enjoyed. The last few didn't have that common theme. I liked the first stories better than the latter. Even though it was quite obvious where the stories were headed they were entertaining. I'm not sure if I've read some of them before or if those plots have been used in other stories/media. The last couple of stories revolved around late 19th century Paris and rather than any supernatural events they were more like romances. The Repairer of Reputations came out in 1895 but was set in 1920. The projections bothered me a little simply because I had to remind myself that it was written 25 years before it was set. Outside of the setting, the story is about a man recently released from a doctor's care who is under the impression he has a divine rite to rule America as King and seeks the assistance of a sick recluse who advertises he can influence reputations. 4 stars The Mask is the story of a sculptor who discovers the formula with the ability to turn living things into perfectly sculpted stone. This ends in tragedy for the sculptor and those around him. 5 stars In the Court of the Dragon involves the mental deterioration and hullucinations of a man in church in Paris. 3 stars The Yellow Sign surrounds an artist, the model he falls in love with and the creepy church yard guard. Of course it comes to a bad end. 4 stars The Demoiselle D'ys was my favorite of the stories involving a man who gets lost in the moors gets found by a pretty young woman out enjoying falconry. 5 stars The Prophets' Paradise was a series of little scenes that, quite frankly, didn't seem to have much of a narrative. It seemed more like just some random ramblings, stuff someone might write as an exercise to get started rather than something you would publish. 0 stars The Street of the Four Winds was a little short story of a man who befriends the cat of a neighbor, then follows it home. This was the last of the stories I actually liked. 4 stars. The Street of the First Shell took place in Paris during a siege by the Germans. I kept waiting for the supernatural twist but it never came. It was more of a romance than anything. The expectation may have influenced my enjoyment of this story somewhat. 2 Stars The Street of Our Lady of the Fields was a once again a romance, but done better than the previous story. Involving art students and the women they are involved with. 3 stars Rue Barree was another little romance story set in Paris involving some of the same characters of the previous story. I didn't enjoy this one as much as Our Lady of the Fields. 1 star The eBook was formatted well with no obvious errors.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If Chambers had stuck with the horror genre all the way through instead of the tonal whiplash of switching to  war story and Bohemian romance schlock, this would have garnered at least three stars.  The Bohemian stories were such a slog to get through that I almost gave up on finishing, and I honestly can't remember the last time I  did that. If you MUST get this book, read the horror stories and ignore the rest.
hailrobonia More than 1 year ago
Lovecraft and the Call of Cthulhu corpus make many references to Chamber's "the King in Yellow", and this book is worth checking out. Not as overtly supernatural/pulp as Lovecraft's stories, this is still an interesting and creepy story of mysterious madness.
Steash More than 1 year ago
An excellent read if you like this genre. Not to be overlooked. Brilliantly creepy
Anonymous 11 months ago
Padded in a little while after.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Takes off well then falters and wobbles all over the plaxe.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Google scanned copy of expired copyright classic. First few paages are scanned, then the text begins. Unfortunately their ocr leaves a lot to be desired and the text is barely readable. Low rating for the file, not the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Missing pages.
Ryan Clouston More than 1 year ago
For whatever reason this copy would not download for me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is not a good version at all. Avoid.