The King in Yellow – Robert W. Chambers
Download The King in Yellow ebook. 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 British first edition was published by Chatto & Windus in 1895 (316 pages)
I don’t agree entirely with the reviews of this work by some of Chambers’ contemporaries (that is, that he proposes fantastic concepts but fails miserably in doing so), however, like many of his contemporaries, the reads can feel somewhat dry or burdensome. Not so much so that it totally detracts from the reading of his shorts, but enough that the first few might take you longer than a normal short to plow through, simply because you’re not sure when it’s going to “pick up,” or start flowing better.
The ideas are superb (plays that are the epitome of art and, thus, drive men mad) and if you give yourself away to what horror was at the time (read: suspense, tension, the tightening of the string, NOT just campy shock value moments), you can’t help but enjoy the stories.
The first is particularly impressive.
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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 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 Chamber (1798-1874), was born. The second William graduated from Union College at the age of 18, and then went to a college in Boston, where he studied to be a doctor. Upon graduating, he and his wife, Eliza P. Allen (1793-1880), a direct descendant of Roger Williams, the founder of Providence, Rhode Island were among the first settlers of Broadalbin, New York. His brother was architect Walter Boughton Chambers.
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