The King in Yellow

The King in Yellow

Book - 2014
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Robert W. Chambers The King in Yellow is a book within a book. Or, more properly, its a collection of macabre short stories with a common theme; a fictional two-act play that brings decadence, hallucinations, and madness to any reader. The stories within this collection, published in 1895, are set in a fictional militaristic 1920s in both the USA and Europe. The tales stand free of each other, and are told from a number of different perspectives, by socialites, soldiers, and artists. Each tells how the lives of the narrator and colleagues have been affected by reading The King in Yellow, a controversial play that has been denounced by the church and suppressed by governments. After coming into contact with it, their lives are tragically affected. Some find themselves hounded by shadowy agents, while others become confused and delusional. Others are driven to act out the plays sad and decadent events, while some simply go insane. The substance of the play itself is only alluded to, or hinted at in brief extracts. It is clearly a tragedy, but the motivations and actions of its central characters, including the mysterious King in Yellow himself, are not clear. Like many authors of macabre tales, Chambers was content for our imaginations to do the work, and this book is more powerful for it. (And by the way, if the central theme of a forbidden book that induces insanity is familiar to you, youve probably read some of the Mythos tales of H.P.Lovecraft. In fact, I doubt that too many people come to read The King in Yellow by any other route; Chambers book is clearly stated as a strong influence on Lovecrafts work.) To be honest, I was shocked to find myself reading a book that was over a HUNDRED years old, an activity I had assumed was reserved for crusty academics and lovers of classical literature. But, more pointedly, I was surprised to find that The King in Yellow is a highly readable volume, full of entertaining, colourful and disturbing tales with a very modern feel to them. Overall, if youve had a bellyful of todays crop of relentless gore and explicit sexuality, take a literary Alka Seltzer by checking out the King in Yellow. Its a classic, and Im not talking Jane Austen.
Publisher: [Brisbane?, AU ] :, Emereo Publishing,, [2014]
Edition: Original classic edition
ISBN: 9781486147519
Call Number: F CHAMBERS
Characteristics: 74 pages ; 23 cm


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Jun 29, 2015

Be advised that the book is printed with an exceedingly small font size (like 4 to 6 point) and will be extremely difficult to read for anyone with vision problems or who is middle-aged or older with the usual need to wear reading glasses. This is baffling and frustrating. Why would anyone print a book with such tiny letters? It's a very very thin book too, so there doesn't seem to be any point in trying to save space.

It is also not well-laid out, with each story beginning immediately after the last with no formatting to clearly separate them into chapters. I'm choosing not to read it and instead have requested a copy from a different publisher through Link Plus in hopes of a better reading experience.

Jul 18, 2014

Like many viewers last winter, I was initially mesmerized and then a little disappointed by HBO's intense thriller "True Detective." I liked that it had hints of a supernatural element and there were references to a little-known book of weird fiction, "The King in Yellow," a collection of interconnected short stories that came out in the late 19th century and was an influence on Lovecraft. (See the below link for more connections to "True Detective.") The early stories will be of the most interest to fans of the show focusing on the mysterious title character and a play that drives men mad, while the later ones are rather dull and plodding tales set in Europe. Also see the stories of Thomas Ligotti.


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