Who is the Yellow King?

The One Literary Reference You Must Know to Appreciate True Detective--
Two episodes into the HBO series, True Detective dropped a reference to one of the strangest, most compelling tales in the canon of weird fiction: Robert W. Chambers' The King in Yellow, a collection of short stories published in 1895. Knowing this book is key to understanding the dark mystery at the heart of this series.

This collection of stories has influenced writers from H.P. Lovecraft and Raymond Chandler, to Robert Heinlein, Grant Morrison, Neil Gaiman and George R. R. Martin. The King in Yellow and his legendary city of Carcosa may be the most famous character and setting you've never heard of.

The King in Yellow is a fictional play within a collection of short stories—a metafictional dramatic work that brings despair, depravity, and insanity to anyone who reads it or sees it performed. The first act lures readers into the cursed text. If they read even the first few words of Act II they are driven insane by the revelation of horrible, decadent, incomprehensible truths about the universe.

For many fans of weird fiction, the surprising appearance of this madness-inducing play into what ostensibly appeared to be just another police procedural was a bolt of lightning. Suddenly, the tone of the show changed completely, signaling the descent into a particular brand of horror rarely (if ever) seen on television. (from Michael M. Hughes, io9.com)

Author Robert W. Chambers has been hailed as a writer of remarkable imaginative powers and the historic link between Edgar Allan Poe and Stephen King. The edition held in WPPL features 12 of his gripping stories and was edited by a noted authority on supernatural fiction, E. F. Bleiler, who provides an informative introduction.

Find "The King in Yellow" in the new book room under SF Chambers, Robert.

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