It's the hit HBO show from the 21st century, True Detective, that has brought Robert W. Chambers' 1895 book of "weird" stories back into the mainstream public eye for the first time in 120 years; but those in the know have been aware of The King in Yellow this entire time, with its Wikipedia page listing such modern notables as H.P. Lovecraft, Raymond Chandler, and Blue Oyster Cult as fans who have self-professed this book as a major influence. And why shouldn't they? An inauspicious volume from an artist just starting his career, who up to then had been a visual painter who suddenly switched mediums without any given explanation, there wasn't much of a reason to expect great things from this mid-list story collection; but it turned out to be one of the very first volumes to help define what horror became in the modern era, the fabled "bridge between Edgar Allen Poe and Stephen King" that's been cited since in so many term papers on the subject. A meta "stories about stories about stories" project that was also one of the first tales of existential dread ever published (the major force driving Lovecraft's "Cthulhu" mythology as well), and with the kind of elaborate alt-history world-building usually only seen in space operas, this is truly a 20th-century text that magically first appeared in the 19th, and it's no surprise that it still has the power to legitimately creep people out well into the 21st. Come enter the dark world of Carcosa, where the yellow king rules over the black stars in a flat circle of time, and see why these powerful tales of madness and the spiritual abyss still hold our fascination more than a century later. (The first in the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography's new "CCLaP Victoriana" series, this edition also features an exclusive new scholarly introduction by executive director Jason Pettus.)
The electronic version of this book is being offered for free download to increase readership, although you're encouraged to make a voluntary payment through Paypal. To start the process, choose one of the options below:
Make a voluntary payment then download the ebook
Order the paperback edition of The King in Yellow at Amazon for $14.99.
Supplemental and promotional material:
This book has been released under a Creative Commons license (click the above icon to actually read it in full); this gives you permission to make unlimited copies for yourself, convert it into other formats, translate it into other languages, and use it as a basis for nonprofit multimedia projects (audio, film, animation, stage performance, calligraphy, etc), in return for you not changing the contents or removing the credits.
Cover: Ryan W. Bradley
CCLaP is always on the lookout for great unsigned manuscripts. Click here for more on how to submit your own.