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The King in Yellow av Robert W. Chambers
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The King in Yellow (urspr publ 1895; utgåvan 2012)

av Robert W. Chambers

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygDiskussioner / Omnämnanden
1,3154610,703 (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.… (mer)
Medlem:evenlake
Titel:The King in Yellow
Författare:Robert W. Chambers
Info:Amazon Digital Services, Kindle Edition, 203 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek
Betyg:
Taggar:horror

Verkdetaljer

Kungen i gult av Robert W. Chambers (1895)

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engelska (42)  tyska (1)  spanska (1)  danska (1)  Alla språk (45)
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Along the shore the cloud waves break,
The twin suns sink beneath the lake,
The shadows lengthen
In Carcosa.

Strange is the night where black stars rise,
And strange moons circle through the skies
But stranger still is
Lost Carcosa.

Songs that the Hyades shall sing,
Where flap the tatters of the King,
Must die unheard in
Dim Carcosa.

Song of my soul, my voice is dead;
Die thou, unsung, as tears unshed
Shall dry and die in
Lost Carcosa.

Cassilda's Song in "The King in Yellow," Act I, Scene 2


(I probably shouldn't open a review with lines from a play that has such ill effects on people, but the excerpts from the play were my favorite parts.)

I have done homework for this review, which I now share with you: In about 1887, [a:Gustave Nadaud|4646869|Gustave Nadaud|https://s.gr-assets.com/assets/nophoto/user/u_50x66-632230dc9882b4352d753eedf9396530.png] writes a poem called "Carcassonne" (available online here) about a man dying before he sets eyes on the city of his heart's desire. This inspires [a:Lord Dunsany|9172|Lord Dunsany|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1207165592p2/9172.jpg] to write a short story of the same name (included in [b:A Dreamer's Tales|1375285|A Dreamer's Tales|Lord Dunsany|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1183077695s/1375285.jpg|1365184]), [a:William Faulkner|3535|William Faulkner|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1437805575p2/3535.jpg] to write a short story of the same name (available in [b:These Thirteen|2234547|These Thirteen|William Faulkner|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1442783121s/2234547.jpg|2240384]), and, apparently, [a:Ambrose Bierce|14403|Ambrose Bierce|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1183231430p2/14403.jpg] to write a short story called "An Inhabitant of Carcosa" (available in [b:Can Such Things Be?|1243420|Can Such Things Be?|Ambrose Bierce|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1364030034s/1243420.jpg|1232123]).

Bierce's story in turn inspires [a:Robert W. Chambers|57739|Robert W. Chambers|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1207157697p2/57739.jpg] to write a collection of short stories called A King in Yellow (a review of which you are now reading), in which the first four interlocking stories follow the repercussions of a fictional play also called A King in Yellow set in the theoretically still fictional Carcosa. Which in turn inspired [a:H.P. Lovecraft|9494|H.P. Lovecraft|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1299165714p2/9494.jpg] to do something I haven't finished researching yet. Which has apparently spawned a whole cottage industry of books about the king in yellow and Carcosa (just judging by what I'm seeing on Amazon, here). So this is a literary iceberg we're standing on.

The Repairer of Reputations
The first story stars a Mr. Hildred Castaigne, convalescing from a concussion, poor man. The story shines in the first part for the sheer 'what on earth am I reading?' reaction it provokes, but half that reaction comes from the fact that the book was written in 1895 and describes a utopia (complete with a nasty little bit of racism) imagined in 1920. The other half comes from Mr. Castaigne, who is really not a very trustworthy gentleman.
The Mask
The second story stars a character mentioned briefly in the first story, Boris Yvain, and narrator Alec. I think of this one as a retelling of the story of King Midas. I rather enjoyed this one.
In the Court of the Dragon
This one stars an unnamed narrator and only names a Monseigneur C____. It is therefore difficult to say the exact links, but I have my suspicions.
The Yellow Sign
The fourth story stars Jack Scott (from the second story), an organist who may or may not be from the third story, as well as quite possibly the narrator of the third story, and references the events of the first story. This is the most horrific story of the quartet.
The Demoiselle D'ys
Starring Philip and Jean D'ys. No links to other stories, but a pretty tragedy.
The Prophets' Paradise
A little bit of experimental fiction that didn't really work for me, although the words were strung together nicely enough; it might be better understood as poetry.
The Street of the Four Winds
The last four stories also form a quartet, but they have nothing to do with Carcosa or the horror genre. This first of the four stars Severn and Sylvia Elven. I kind of this one, because Severn is the kind of man who will feed a hungry cat better than he feeds himself.
The Street of the First Shell
This one also has a Sylvia, and a Jack Trent? Annoyed. Long war story. Skipped.
The Street of Our Lady of the Fields
Americans studying in Paris. Romance. Officially bored now. Barely skimmed.
Rue Barree
Same Americans (different set), still a romance. Skimmed.

Overall, this was really a 2.5 for me (as a 200 page book that took me over a week to read). But I'm glad I read it for the sake of all the allusions I'm sure I've been missing and will now be able to understand. So it's got that going for it. And looking back I really did like the first four stories and a couple of the later ones, for all that the book was a slog. Rounding up.

Reviewed 10/18/15 ( )
1 rösta amyotheramy | May 11, 2021 |
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 rösta meznir | Jan 8, 2020 |
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Författarens namnRollTyp av författareVerk?Status
Chambers, Robert W.primär författarealla utgåvorbekräftat
De Cuir, GabrielleBerättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Gaughan, JackOmslagmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Rudnicki, StefanBerättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Turetsky, MarkBerättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
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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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Wikipedia på engelska (1)

"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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