The King in Yellow (Great Classics #86) (Paperback)

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The King in Yellow is a book of short stories by American writer Robert W. Chambers, first published by F. Tennyson Neely in 1895. The book is named after a play with the same title which recurs as a motif through some of the stories. The first half of the book features highly esteemed weird stories, and the book has been described by critics such as E. F. Bleiler, S. T. Joshi and T. E. D. Klein as a classic in the field of the supernatural. There are ten stories, the first four of which ("The Repairer of Reputations," "The Mask," "In the Court of the Dragon," and "The Yellow Sign") mention The King in Yellow, a forbidden play which induces despair or madness in those who read it. "The Yellow Sign" inspired a film of the same name released in 2001.

The first four stories are loosely connected by three main devices:

A play in book form entitled The King in Yellow
A mysterious and malevolent supernatural entity known as the King in Yellow
An eerie symbol called the Yellow Sign
These stories are macabre in tone, centering, in keeping with the other tales, on characters that are often artists or decadents, inhabitants of the demi-monde.

The first and fourth stories, "The Repairer of Reputations" and "The Yellow Sign," are set in an imagined future 1920s America, whereas the second and third stories, "The Mask" and "In the Court of the Dragon," are set in Paris. These stories are haunted by the theme: "Have you found the Yellow Sign?"

The weird and macabre character gradually fades away during the remaining stories, and the last three are written in the romantic fiction style common to Chambers' later work. They are all linked to the preceding stories by their Parisian setting and their artistic protagonists.

List of stories

The stories in the book are:

"The Repairer of Reputations" - A weird story of egotism and paranoia that carries the imagery of the book's title.

"The Mask" - A dream story of art, love, and uncanny science.

"In the Court of the Dragon" - A man is pursued by a sinister church organist who is after his soul.

"The Yellow Sign" - An artist is troubled by a sinister churchyard watchman who resembles a coffin worm.

"The Demoiselle d'Ys" - A ghost story, the theme of which anticipates H. G. Wells' "The Door in the Wall" (1906).

"The Prophets' Paradise" - A sequence of eerie prose poems that develop the style and theme of a quote from the fictional play The King in Yellow which introduces "The Mask."

"The Street of the Four Winds" - An atmospheric tale of an artist in Paris who is drawn to a neighbor's room by a cat; the story ends with a macabre touch.

"The Street of the First Shell" - A war story set in the Paris Siege of 1870.

"The Street of Our Lady of the Fields" - Romantic American bohemians in Paris.

"Rue Barr e" - Romantic American bohemians in Paris, with a discordant ending that playfully reflects some of the tone of the first story.

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About the Author

Robert William Chambers (May 26, 1865 - December 16, 1933) was an American artist and fiction writer, best known for his book of short stories entitled The King in Yellow, published in 1895. He was born in Brooklyn, New York, to William P. Chambers (1827-1911), a notable corporate and bankruptcy lawyer, and Caroline Smith Boughton (1842-1913). His parents met when Caroline was twelve years old and William P. was interning with her father, Joseph Boughton, a prominent corporate lawyer. Eventually the two formed the law firm of Chambers and Boughton which continued to prosper even after Joseph's death in 1861. Robert's great-grandfather, William Chambers (birth unknown), a lieutenant in the British Royal Navy, was married to Amelia Saunders, (1765-1822), the great grand daughter of Tobias Saunders, of Westerly, Rhode Island. The couple moved from Westerly, to Greenfield, Massachusetts and then to Galway, New York, where their son, also William Chambers, (1798-1874) was born. Chambers' The King in Yellow has inspired many modern authors, including Karl Edward Wagner, Joseph S. Pulver, Lin Carter, James Blish, Nic Pizzolato, Michael Cisco, Ann K. Schwader, Robert M. Price, Galad Elflandsson and Charles Stross.

Product Details
ISBN: 9781539861591
ISBN-10: 1539861597
Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
Publication Date: October 31st, 2016
Pages: 148
Language: English
Series: Great Classics