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The King in Yellow (1895)

de Robert W. Chambers

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MembrosResenhasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaConversas / Menções
1,3064510,708 (3.61)4 / 124
"The King in Yellow, a series of vaguely connected short storieshaving as a background a monstrous and suppressed book whose perusal bringsfright, madness, and spectral tragedy, really achieves notable heights of cosmicfear in spite of uneven interest and a somewhat trivial and affected cultivationof the Gallic studio atmosphere made popular by Du Maurier's Trilby. The mostpowerful of its tales, perhaps, is The Yellow Sign, in which is introduced asilent and terrible churchyard watchman with a face like a puffy grave-worm's."-- from the Introduction by H.P. Lovecraft.… (mais)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 44 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
The stories range in quality, some fairly intriguing while others were entirely forgettable. The namesake is the real draw, and it's no wonder such a small, undiscussed idea has been so influential. I would read more about The King and his Yellow Sign, but not many of the other tales make me feel the same. ( )
  althomas39 | Apr 20, 2021 |
The term "weird fiction" could have been coined to describe “The King in Yellow”. First published in 1895, and recently reissued in a deluxe "gift edition” by Pushkin Press, it features elements of horror and the supernatural and even a touch of science fiction and yet fits uncomfortably under any of these categories. It is frankly, just plain “weird”.

The book consists of four short stories which are linked by some common characters and, more importantly, by a recurring leitmotiv, a mysterious play called “The King in Yellow”. This play is, purportedly, a work of such evil genius that whoever reads its second act descends into madness and despair. Chambers uses a technique which would later greatly inspire [a:H.P. Lovecraft|9494|H.P. Lovecraft|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1299165714p2/9494.jpg] (he applies it to great effect in his Cthulhu stories) – we are never actually told what the play is all about, the narrators in each story merely make vague references to its contents, leaving us to surmise what evil horrors this banned work might hold within its pages.

The first story – “The Repairer of Reputations” – is set (like the fourth) in an imagined future America of the 1920s and sets the macabre tone of the work. It is narrated by a young man just out of a mental institution, who has delusions about ruling America in allegiance with the powerful “King in Yellow”. This story recalls Poe in its portrayal of obsession and madness, leading to a bloody denouement. The second tale, "The Mask", is a sort of “Pygmalion” in reverse. Set in France, it tells of a sculptor who discovers a chemical solution which can turn live beings into statues. This story introduces a new ingredient to the mix – the bohemian milieu beloved of fin-de-siecle, decadent literature. It is not uncommon in such works to encounter a fascination with the Catholic faith, or at least, its cultural trappings. This is the case with “In the Court of the Dragon”, in which the protagonist seems to be pursued by a demonic church organist. This sinister predator is likely just a tired musician escaping to the loo during a longish sermon, but to the narrator, fresh from reading that abominable play, he comes across as a malign figure sent by the King in Yellow to claim his soul. “The Yellow Sign” takes us back to 1920s America, but we are again in a world of artists and their models. There is also the presence of a Catholic church, such that at first, the atmosphere is not far removed from that of the previous story. This time round, however, the haunting is not done by an organist but by a “worm-like” churchyard watchman who, it seems, is possessed by the King in Yellow and is after the Yellow Sign, a curious gold clasp found by the narrator’s model.

Chambers’ short story collection originally contained six other stories, but it is only the first four which are linked by the “King of Yellow” theme. So it makes sense for this edition to be limited to these four tales which, partly thanks to Lovecraft, have achieved cult status amongst lovers of weird fiction.

For a full review, including a choice of related musical works, visit:

https://endsoftheword.blogspot.com/2019/01/horror-and-decadence-review-of-king-i... ( )
  JosephCamilleri | Mar 5, 2021 |
The term "weird fiction" could have been coined to describe “The King in Yellow”. First published in 1895, and recently reissued in a deluxe "gift edition” by Pushkin Press, it features elements of horror and the supernatural and even a touch of science fiction and yet fits uncomfortably under any of these categories. It is frankly, just plain “weird”.

The book consists of four short stories which are linked by some common characters and, more importantly, by a recurring leitmotiv, a mysterious play called “The King in Yellow”. This play is, purportedly, a work of such evil genius that whoever reads its second act descends into madness and despair. Chambers uses a technique which would later greatly inspire [a:H.P. Lovecraft|9494|H.P. Lovecraft|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1299165714p2/9494.jpg] (he applies it to great effect in his Cthulhu stories) – we are never actually told what the play is all about, the narrators in each story merely make vague references to its contents, leaving us to surmise what evil horrors this banned work might hold within its pages.

The first story – “The Repairer of Reputations” – is set (like the fourth) in an imagined future America of the 1920s and sets the macabre tone of the work. It is narrated by a young man just out of a mental institution, who has delusions about ruling America in allegiance with the powerful “King in Yellow”. This story recalls Poe in its portrayal of obsession and madness, leading to a bloody denouement. The second tale, "The Mask", is a sort of “Pygmalion” in reverse. Set in France, it tells of a sculptor who discovers a chemical solution which can turn live beings into statues. This story introduces a new ingredient to the mix – the bohemian milieu beloved of fin-de-siecle, decadent literature. It is not uncommon in such works to encounter a fascination with the Catholic faith, or at least, its cultural trappings. This is the case with “In the Court of the Dragon”, in which the protagonist seems to be pursued by a demonic church organist. This sinister predator is likely just a tired musician escaping to the loo during a longish sermon, but to the narrator, fresh from reading that abominable play, he comes across as a malign figure sent by the King in Yellow to claim his soul. “The Yellow Sign” takes us back to 1920s America, but we are again in a world of artists and their models. There is also the presence of a Catholic church, such that at first, the atmosphere is not far removed from that of the previous story. This time round, however, the haunting is not done by an organist but by a “worm-like” churchyard watchman who, it seems, is possessed by the King in Yellow and is after the Yellow Sign, a curious gold clasp found by the narrator’s model.

Chambers’ short story collection originally contained six other stories, but it is only the first four which are linked by the “King of Yellow” theme. So it makes sense for this edition to be limited to these four tales which, partly thanks to Lovecraft, have achieved cult status amongst lovers of weird fiction.

For a full review, including a choice of related musical works, visit:

https://endsoftheword.blogspot.com/2019/01/horror-and-decadence-review-of-king-i... ( )
  JosephCamilleri | Sep 12, 2020 |
Chambers has a nice narrator's voice, but he is so busy explaining everything around the main characters that the scary stuff that happens sort of evaporates in the waterfall of words that he uses. That diminishes the horror effect of the King in Yellow and the Yellow Sign when used in the stories. Funny that the stories in which the King is merely referenced, worked better for me than the ones in which the actual presence of King, Play or Sign featured.
( )
1 vote meznir | Jan 8, 2020 |
"Gran sabio, ¿Has visto todo lo que hay que ver con tus dos ojos? ¿Conoces todo lo que hay por conocer y, por tanto, omnisciente, te atreves a decir no obstante que tu hermano miente?". R. W. Chambers en el Mensajero. ( )
  darioha | Nov 12, 2019 |
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Nome do autorFunçãoTipo de autorObra?Status
Chambers, Robert W.autor principaltodas as ediçõesconfirmado
De Cuir, GabrielleNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Gaughan, JackArtista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Rudnicki, StefanNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Turetsky, MarkNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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The King in Yellow
is dedicated to my brother
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"Ne raillons pas les fous; leur folie dure plus longtemps que la nôtre.... Voila toute la différence."

(Do not mock the mad; their madness lasts longer than ours .... That is the only difference.)
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"The King in Yellow, a series of vaguely connected short storieshaving as a background a monstrous and suppressed book whose perusal bringsfright, madness, and spectral tragedy, really achieves notable heights of cosmicfear in spite of uneven interest and a somewhat trivial and affected cultivationof the Gallic studio atmosphere made popular by Du Maurier's Trilby. The mostpowerful of its tales, perhaps, is The Yellow Sign, in which is introduced asilent and terrible churchyard watchman with a face like a puffy grave-worm's."-- from the Introduction by H.P. Lovecraft.

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