Robert W. Chambers

The Deliverer of Delusions, Part 2

Here is the conclusion of the story.

The Deliverer of Delusions

Part 2

A muscular servant admitted me into Dr. Archer’s establishment. “One moment, Miss Castaigne.” He vanished down a plushly carpeted hallway, bearing my card.

I was studying some prints of the Hudson River Valley on the walls of the foyer when a small cough startled me. I had not heard the man’s return.

But it wasn’t the servant. Behind me stood a figure of grey and silver – silver hair, pale skin, grey eyes, grey suit. “Miss Castaigne,” he murmured, extending a hand. “I am John Archer. He clasped my hand in both of his. “I am happy to meet you at last, Miranda Castaigne, despite the sad reason for your presence.”

“Thank you, Dr. Archer.” I extracted my hand. The hall was dimly lit, but did that account for the squinting right eye, a darker colour than its mate? A substitute for the original, perhaps?

“Come into my office, Miss Castaigne.” He applied his hand to the back of my arm. “This way, please.”

Seated in a chair opposite Dr. Archer’s desk, I told him I was seeking a coherent account of Hildred’s last days. “The person at the Asylum said only that he threw himself down a flight of stairs. He had been brought there the previous night, after an incident where a man had been murdered. It was assumed Hildred had committed the crime. I find that hard to believe. My brother was never a violent person.”

The burly manservant entered, bearing a tray with teapot and cups. Dr. Archer poured out. “Some tea, Miss Castaigne?” With his back to the windows, the disturbing squint was no longer visible.

“Miss Castaigne,” Dr. Archer said, “an injury to the brain, such as your brother sustained in the fall from his horse, can cause unpredictable, and indeed violent behaviour.”

“But that fall was more than four years ago! And you declared him cured. He wrote to me months ago, saying he had, as he put it, ‘paid my tuition to Dr. Archer.’”

The doctor’s lips stretched and thinned into a smile. “Yes, I remember that. Indeed, for several years Mr. Castaigne was in most respects as sane as anyone, but such injuries have lasting effects. That is why I insisted he visit me regularly after he left my direct care; and in fact I hired one or two individuals to keep a watch over him, especially after you left the country.”

“You had him watched! So how do you explain these events? Hildred is dead! How could he go from ‘as sane as anyone’ to dead – and in such a terrible way?”

“Calm yourself, Miss Castaigne.” The smile had vanished. Archer’s lips now emitted portentous words. “Clearly, some external event triggered a swift return to an irrational state and set off the sequence of events leading to his death. Do you have any idea what that trigger may have been?”

I took a sip of tea. It was delicious, hot and fragrant. “I don’t know. I’ve been abroad for the past three years. Hildred and I corresponded, of course. He did mention, last spring, that our cousin Louis and Miss Hawberk were likely to marry, but – ”

“Indeed. That may have had a profound effect on young Mr. Castaigne. Perhaps he, too, entertained romantic feelings for this young woman? He did, after all, frequent her father’s shop.”

“No. He never so much as hinted at such a thing. Dr. Archer, my brother Hildred was a … dreamy young man. Impractical, even before his injury. After it, he developed interests in obscure topics. Heraldry, and Napoleon. He became something of a recluse, but a violent attack on another person – that was entirely unlike him!” I set down the now empty teacup, my hand shaking a little.

“You were not in personal contact with him at the time, though. Subtle changes are not conveyed in letters, I fear.”

From a lazy young man about town, I have become active, energetic, temperate, and, above all — oh, above all else — ambitious. I remembered this sentence from one of Hildred’s last letters to me. Hildred, ambitious? God help me, I had smiled. And I had dismissed as a harmless whim the fact that he had begun dating his letters as though they came from the future – 1920.

All this was becoming overwhelming. I felt a little dizzy and decided it was time to end this conversation with Dr. Archer.

“May I ask, Miss Castaigne – what was the reason for your extended absence?” Dr. Archer folded his hands together on the desk and leaned forward slightly. The squint I thought I had seen in his right eye was no longer evident; perhaps I had been mistaken. There was no sense of urgency about him. He was prepared to listen. And I – oh, there was so much I could say! About the death of my father, which launched my mother into rural seclusion. Then Hildred’s accident and transformation. My decision to run away to Paris, comforting myself with the hope that he would someday return to his former self.

“I went to Paris to study art,” I replied, thinking how frivolous that sounded. “There are many Americans there. I became part of that group. It was a very … productive environment.” I felt myself blushing, as though Dr. Archer could see the memories behind my words – days of work and nights of debate and merriment, ramblings beneath the sun, in bird-haunted meadows, on crystalline lakes. The meshing of personalities and aspirations. And Jack Scott.

“Art,” said Dr. Archer, tilting his head and smiling. “Painting, sketching, charcoal, pastels, oils?”

“Printmaking,” I replied. “Lithography.”

“Ah.” He smiled again, without blinking. “And what led you to that medium?”

“Being around others who worked in it, I suppose.” My ears buzzed and my head felt as though it wanted to float away from my body. I hoped I wasn’t becoming ill.

“You were influenced.” He removed his hands from the desk and turned his chair slightly.

“I suppose so. Dr. Archer, I think I have taken up enough of your time – ”

“But you want to know what happened to Hildred, do you not? Well, I can show you.” He stood up. “Come with me.”

I stood up, and almost sat back down. My legs felt like wet ribbons. Dr. Archer grasped my arm firmly and conducted me farther down the hallway to a small elevator. The same muscular servant – or was he an orderly? – opened the sliding gate and heavy door. The conveyance carried us some unknown distance upward, or perhaps downward? I was unfamiliar with these machines. Once the sensation of motion ceased, the man opened the door and gate to another narrow hallway. The carpet here was thinner, and worn.

Without a word, Dr. Archer led me to an open door. Entering the room beyond, I looked around me, astonished.

I found myself in Hildred’s rooms, as I remembered them. There stood the furniture, there hung the familiar pictures. Not at the Benedick, of course, but here, in Dr. Archer’s house on Madison Avenue. If I looked out the window, I would not see the fountain playing or nursemaids wheeling infants along the paved walks. What would I see? Unsteadily, I moved forward, intending to part the nearest set of garnet-coloured curtains, but a large metal box caught my eye. About the size of a biscuit-tin, it had been fitted with metal knobs of some sort.

“What’s that?” I asked. My lips felt slightly numb. “And why did you bring Hildred’s things here?”

“I hoped to resume treating him, when I heard of his arrest and confinement. Unfortunately, his … accident prevented that.”

“It wasn’t an accident,” I muttered. “But his belongings… Why?”

“I wished to create a congenial, welcoming atmosphere, but he never arrived.”

“So he was to be brought here from the Asylum?”

“Yes. I saw Hildred at the Asylum, soon after his arrest and confinement, and offered to take charge of his case. They know me, at the Asylum.” He smiled again, like one who holds all the cards, squinting both his eyes. “I immediately arranged for his possessions to be moved here and placed as you see them before he arrived.”

“Except he killed himself first.” My head was full of fog and I found it hard to think.

“Miss Castaigne, you are quite pale.” He indicated an armchair. “Have a seat here. Pretend you are visiting Hildred. Miss Castaigne, are you familiar with crypto-mesmerism?”

“What?” Still thinking about what he had just told me, I sank onto the chair. “Crypto- I’ve never heard of it.”

“As I thought. Crypto-mesmerism is the effect of art upon susceptible minds. Certain pictures or writings may have a profound influence upon those who view or read them.”

“I suppose, but what – ?”

“Artistic temperaments especially lend themselves to the study of this effect. Your brother Hildred had such a temperament, unrealized though it was. He proved exquisitely susceptible, at least to one particular book.”

He went to a bookcase filled with what I had already recognized as Hildred’s collection of Napoleon books. Ignoring these, he drew out from among them a slender volume, which he handed to me. Swirls of yellow outlined in black adorned the cover. Among them was the title – The King in Yellow.

“I’ve heard of … this book,” I said, my tongue slow and awkward in my mouth. “What sort of influence did it have … on Hildred?”

Dr. Archer went to Hildred’s desk and removed a paper from its surface. He handed it to me. “This was one effect.”

On the paper were two words in my brother’s handwriting, repeated many times. Dozens of times. Hildred Rex. “What does this mean?”

“He thought he would be King. The lost King of America. Mr. Wilde, who was once a patient of mine, aided in my diagnosis and treatment.”

“And that’s why … Hildred murdered him?”

A nod. “ And now, Miss Castaigne, we have much to do. I’ve sent my man to your hotel for your baggage, as I’m sure you would not want to wear your brother’s clothes. Please make yourself comfortable.” He gestured toward the bed, whose plump pillows looked most inviting.

“But why – ?”

“You will be my guest for a while, Miranda Castaigne.” Dr. Archer smiled broadly now, showing large yellow teeth. “Your brother is dead, and your cousin Louis is temperamentally impossible. But you – you definitely have potential.” He grasped my arm yet again and led me toward the bed.

“Potential for what? What will I do here?”

“You will sleep. And when you wake, you will read The King in Yellow. Then we shall see.”

I fell onto the bed and black wings enfolded me. Far away, a voice intoned: …a Consort of the true Blood to serve Him…

Advertisements

The Deliverer of Delusions, Part 1

I posted recently about one of the stories in Robert W. Chambers’s book, The King in Yellow. Just like the fictitious book of that title mentioned in the first four stories, the real one captured my imagination, helped by a graphic novel version by I.N.J. Culbard. So I wrote a fan fiction on that first story — “The Repairer of Reputations.” Aside from writing something new, I learned that the urge to write fan fiction comes from the desire to figure out something in the original work, to clarify ambiguous details or simply to inhabit the world of the original for a while longer.

The story is nearly 3,000 words, so I’m posting it in two parts, of which the first follows forthwith.

 

The Deliverer of Delusions

Part 1

The shop looked as I remembered it, with the same sign over the door. “Hawberk, Armourer.” A closer view revealed four more years of fade and peel. The same tinkling bell, though.

He looked up from his work with a blank-eyed stare. Then – “Ah, Miss Miranda. Miss Castaigne, I mean. My condolences. It’s a sad return home for you.”

“Thank you, Mr. Hawberk. I left Paris as soon as I received Louis’s telegram, but it took me two weeks to get here.”

Bienvenue à nouveau après toutes ces années, Mademoiselle.” Followed by a courtly bow and Gallic hand gesture that made a flash of reflected light from the ring on his right hand. It must have been the signet on which my brother Hildred had recognized the arms of some ancient English family – one of the reasons he found Hawberk and his shop so fascinating.

Merci, Monsieur.” As always, suits of armour stood around the shop, in various stages of completeness, some shiny, some rusty. Customers who did not mind waiting. “I gather it happened here? That last incident, when Hildred was… taken into custody?”

“Not here in the shop, no, but in this building. In Mr. Wilde’s rooms, upstairs.”

“Mr. Wilde – he was the man who died? Whom Hildred was supposed to have murdered?”

“He lived upstairs, yes.”

“May I see…? I’m trying to put it all together, his last days. How it happened.”

“I understand.” He rummaged in a drawer and brought out a key.

The stairs were steep, brown and narrow. Hawberk struggled awhile with the key before the door opened with a screech. “Reminds me of Wilde’s cat,” Hawberk said. “Savage creature, but he liked her.”

Mr. Wilde’s rooms were empty of visible life – bare bookshelves, a curious high desk and matching tall chair with a set of ladder-like rungs. Dust and nameless scraps lay on the floor. A signboard leaned against the wall. I turned my head sideways to read it. “Repairer of Reputations. What’s that?”

“Mr. Wilde was eccentric.”

Watery sunlight from the small-paned window drew a scintillation from something on the floor. I bent and extracted it from a crack between two boards. A scrap of paper lying nearby caught my eye, my own surname unlikely in this dreary place. “…only son of Hildred Castaigne and Edythe…” and, on the line below that, “…in the succession.”

I slipped the scrap into my pocket and examined the shiny object. Intricately cut facets made a small brilliance on my palm. I held it out to Hawberk. “What do you suppose this is?”

“It looks like a diamond. Couldn’t be real, though.” He looked up at me. “It might have come from that diadem.”

“Diadem? Did Mr. Wilde collect such things, as well as repairing reputations?”

“No. Mr. Castaigne brought it with him, that night.”

“My brother had a diadem with him?”

“Yes. Made to look like gold and diamonds. Couldn’t have been real, though. With everything that happened, I didn’t get a good look at it, but I supposed it had something to do with his interest in heraldry, royal symbols, all that. You didn’t know about it?”

“No!” The succession, I remembered. I looked at the diamond again. Real or paste? “So what happened to this diadem?”

Hawberk creased his brow and looked toward the window, where a fly buzzed against the panes. “I really don’t know. Perhaps the police took it away, as evidence.”

There was nothing more to say. The musty smell of the place, and the buzzing fly, were oppressive. “I’ve taken up enough of your time, Mr. Hawberk.”

But at the door of the shop, I paused. “Do you think my brother was insane?”

He examined the key to Wilde’s door, rubbing it with his thumb. “I really can’t say, Miss Castaigne. He didn’t seem so, all those years, but something happened to him, at the end.”

“Goodbye, Mr. Hawberk. And thank you for being kind to Hildred. He loved your shop.”

 

Upon his removal from Dr. Archer’s care six months after his riding accident, Hildred had moved to the Benedick apartments on Washington Square. For an entire year, I had called on him every day, often tracking him down in Hawberk’s shop, where he went to listen to the music of metal on metal and lose himself in scintillations of light on the armour plates. Then the call of Paris and adventure had grown too strong for me to ignore. An opportunity presented itself, and I took it, telling myself that Hildred was well again, even if other interests had supplanted his former pastimes of fishing, yachting and riding. And our cousin Louis was near enough to keep an eye on him.

I was gone for more than three years – golden years! They fled by so quickly, until Louis’s telegram came. “Hildred dead in asylum for insane.” By the time I arrived in New York City, Louis too was far away. His regiment had been posted to San Francisco. He had married Constance Hawberk and departed. Was I unjust in suspecting him of undue haste? No matter – he was only a cousin. I was Hildred’s sister.

The concierge at the Benedick admitted me quite readily when I identified myself. I felt a moment of dread before unlocking the door to Hildred’s rooms, anticipating sorrow at the sight of his possessions bereft of his presence. But a surprise greeted me instead – the rooms were empty. Not only of Hildred, but of furniture, books, carpets and ornaments. Only the curtains remained, their velvet folds hanging mutely, as though in helpless apology.

No books on the shelves. No shelves! No papers on the desk. No desk! No clothes in the wardrobe. No wardrobe! Where was everything? The concierge hadn’t said anything about this removal. The rooms were still Hildred Castaigne’s. He was gone, but his possessions should have remained.

I returned to the sitting-room and took the tour again. Study, bedroom, sitting-room. Back to the study, floors creaking, my steps echoing. He was gone. Gone completely. His mortal remains rested in our family’s cemetery plot. I had hoped to capture something of his spirit here, in the last place he had lived. But it was an empty shell.

The concierge was still in his office. “Can you tell me who removed Mr. Castaigne’s possessions? And when?”

“Not exactly, Miss. Some men came, a couple of weeks ago. Said they had the family’s permission.”

“I am his family. His sister. I gave no permission. And a couple of weeks ago I was still in Paris.”

He shrugged. “Well, that’s what they said. And where? I think I heard them say Madison Avenue.”

My heart sank. Madison Avenue was a long street. I pulled my wallet from my handbag and held out several dollars. “Please, can you remember anything else?”

The man took the currency and counted it. “Maybe,” he said, smirking. “Make it an even ten and we’ll see.”

I produced two more dollars.

“Dr. John Archer,” he said.

 

Look for Part 2 tomorrow!

Unreliable

If I had not caught a glimpse of the opening words in the second act I should never have finished it, but as I stooped to pick it up my eyes became riveted to the open page, and with a cry of terror, or perhaps it was of joy so poignant that I suffered in every nerve, I snatched the thing from the hearth and crept shaking to my bedroom, where I read it and reread it, and wept and laughed and trembled with a horror which at times assails me yet. This is the thing that troubles me, for I cannot forget Carcosa, where black stars hang in the heavens, where the shadows of men’s thoughts lengthen in the afternoon, when the twin suns sink into the Lake of Hali, and my mind will bear forever the memory of the Pallid Mask. I pray God will curse the writer, as the writer has cursed the world with this beautiful, stupendous creation, terrible in its simplicity, irresistible in its truth — a world which now trembles before the King in Yellow.

The unreliable narrator. What a great driver for a piece of fiction!

I’ve been thinking a lot about this because of extensive pondering of Robert Chambers’s story “The Repairer of Reputations” (quoted from above), especially after also reading (and looking at) I.N.J. Culbard’s graphic take on it. I think it’s the best story in the collection entitled The King in Yellow, first published in 1895. I recently rediscovered that book, and found (to my surprise) that Culbard’s graphic novel adaptation made this story a vivid and striking experience. Disturbing, too.

Here are the elements of the story:

A futuristic setting (1920), in which America is a militaristic, grandiose empire that has just repealed the law forbidding suicide, and has inaugurated the first Lethal Chamber in New York City.

The narrator is a young man (Hildred Castaigne) whose head injury four years earlier led to confinement in an asylum for the insane. He believes that to have been a mistake and intends to be revenged on Dr. Archer, whose error it was. He has read the notorious play called “The King in Yellow,” which is reputed to drive its readers (note, readers) insane.

A young cavalry officer (Louis Castaigne), who is Hildred’s cousin. He’s courting Constance Hawberk, the daughter of an armourer (with a singularly apt surname). Hildred frequents Hawberk’s shop, not because of Constance, but because he is delighted by the sound of hammer on metal and the scintillation of light that strikes it. He is also a friend of the eccentric who lives upstairs…

Mr. Wilde, short and grotesque, with a mutilated hand, wax ears and a streak of masochism he exercises by provoking his cat to attack him savagely. He is the Repairer of Reputations, a kind of blackmailer who supposedly employs hundreds of men to supply him with information. He is also the keeper of documents proving that Louis and Hildred are members of the Imperial Dynasty of America and heirs to its vacant throne. Hildred, whose injury changed him from a fun-loving man-about-town to a brooding scholar, has ambitions to displace his cousin and claim the throne. Both Hawberk and Louis believe Mr. Wilde to be insane (and have doubts about Hildred as well).

Things come to a head when Louis announces his impending marriage to Constance. Hildred sees this as an obstacle to his ambitions and asks Louis to renounce the throne and not marry. Louis agrees to renounce (clearly humouring his crazy cousin), but draws the line at not marrying. Things happen pretty fast after that, and end less than happily for Hildred, Mr. Wilde and his cat.

Weird, eh?

The whole thing gets weirder the longer I brood upon it, which is a point in its favour. Stories that end cleanly and neatly, with no unanswered questions, fade quickly from the memory. This one does not.

The real question is: How unreliable is this narrator? The story begins with an observation on life in 1920s America — except the book was published in the 1800s, so this is a futuristic projection. The Wikipedia article about this story suggests the action doesn’t take place in 1920 at all; that is part of Hildred’s delusions. Which leads one swiftly to the conclusion that the entire narrative is the ravings of a madman. Which flattens everything out and makes it — for me, anyway — less interesting. I prefer to toy with the idea that at least some of Hildred’s statements are true. The very strange Mr. Wilde knows where the missing bits of a famous suit of armour can be found. Mr. Hawberk is disturbed by Wilde’s declaration that he (Hawberk) is actually the Marquis of Avonshire. Hildred is totally aware that others look at him with tolerant pity — but he also knows he will be king.

Behind the onward-and-upward facade of a fascist America, something else is going on.

One interpretation might be that the shadowy, yellow-garbed King (whom emperors have served) is taking control of susceptible individuals (artists and the head-injured) as they read the perilous play, and eventually he will gain the ascendance. But given the outcome of this particular episode, it could take a while.

One thing every unreliable narrator needs is the sympathy of the reader. If the narrator is presented as completely deluded and evil, the reader regards him or her as “someone not like me” — the Other. It’s easy to give up on that person and leave them to their fate. But if the character snares the reader’s sympathy, even a little; if the reader involuntarily identifies with him, the situation instantly becomes complex and fascinating. So it is with the unfortunate Hildred Castaigne. If I think about him too much I might find myself writing a piece of fan fiction that turns into a series of novels. Oh, wait — I’ve already done that — with H.P. Lovecraft’s Herbert West.

A fascinating book club style discussion of “The Repairer of Reputations” may be found here. I would advise reading the story itself first.

Have You Seen the Yellow Sign?

Well, OK, not that yellow sign.

Most of us have seen many yellow signs, but only one has elicited shudders since 1895, when Robert W. Chambers’s book The King in Yellow was published. It has become a classic among readers of weird fiction, and influenced H.P. Lovecraft and his literary successors.

I first read The King in Yellow more than 30 years ago, but lost touch with it after I inadvertently left my copy at the train station in Regina, Saskatchewan in 1984. Recently I acquired an ebook copy and proceeded to read all nine stories in short order.

I found that 99% of the book’s content had been expunged from my memory — all except for the words of the title and the phrase “the Yellow Sign,” along with a few other key words or phrases — the Pallid Mask, the Lake of Hali — and the name Cassilda. Also that the Yellow King’s garments were, for some mysterious reason, tattered. Everything else was as though brand new in my recent re-reading.

All the stories have these elements in common: the protagonists are young American artists, as Chambers was before he turned from art to writing. The locales in which the stories play out are New York City or Paris, with one tale set in Brittany. Descriptions of bohemian life (American style) in Paris are delicious — sights, sounds, smells, plants, flowers, clothing, birds and even insects, all are all rendered in detail and imbued with nostalgia. I think some of these stories, “The Street of our Lady of the Fields” and “Rue Barree” in particular, are thinly fictionalized reminiscences of youthful hijinks that seem charmingly quaint when read in our cynical times. However charming, these tales boil down to relationships between the young Americans and Parisian ‘working girls.’ Little perfumed notes about rendezvous at various cafes and clubs are mentioned, but the word ‘prostitute’ or any of its synonyms is never to be seen, and yet the point is made that the young ladies, however delightful, are not to be fallen in love with, for one could never contemplate presenting them to Mother back home.

An exception among the Parisian stories is one titled “The Street of the First Shell.” It paints a vivid and disturbing picture of life during the Siege of Paris in 1870-71. The characters are, as usual, young American artists, but they are shown dealing with starvation, betrayal, and the despair of a population pushed to its limits. It’s worth reading as an introduction to an episode in history that is not well known to many now.

The fifth story — a bridge between those that mention the King in Yellow and those about Americans in Paris — is called “The Demoiselle d’Ys.” It is a well-wrought tale, something between ghost story and fantasy, with a bonus of a lot of information about the art of falconry.

But what about the King in Yellow? Well, that reference is to be found in the first four stories — “The Repairer of Reputations,” “The Mask,” “In the Court of the Dragon” and “The Yellow Sign.”

“The Repairer of Reputations” is set in a weirdly dystopian New York City in 1920 (remember, the book was published in 1895). The protagonist is a seriously unreliable narrator, but it takes a while for that realization to emerge.

“The Mask” combines chemistry and art with something of the romanticism of the later stories. It would play beautifully as a graphic novel rendered in the Art Nouveau style of Aubrey Beardsley, an exact contemporary.

“In the Court of the Dragon” takes place in a church. Churches appear often in these stories, and Chambers has some of his protagonists reveal that they are Catholics. This story features a sinister organist who is a harbinger of doom to the narrator, who had been reading the forbidden play entitled The King in Yellow. He hopes the church will be a safe haven in which to recover, but that is not to be.

In “The Yellow Sign” we are once again in New York City. This time the artist protagonist is a man of experience, filled with regret about someone in Brittany by the name of Sylvia, but the story concerns his relationship with his young model, Tessie. It’s all quite innocent until the grotesque figure of a cemetery watchman appears. Things become really complicated when Tessie reads The King in Yellow.

The thing about all these stories is that the action is quite independent of the yellow-clad king and his world. Only at the very end of “In the Court of the Dragon” does the King emerge from the shadows and speak. In the other stories, “The King in Yellow” is a play, reputed to cause madness and terror in those who read it. Bits of text from the play introduce the stories, such as this from “The Repairer of Reputations”: Strange is the night where black stars rise, And strange moons circle through the skies But stranger still is Lost Carcosa. Songs that the Hyades shall sing, Where flap the tatters of the King, Must die unheard in dim Carcosa.

So who is the King in Yellow? That is never explained. He is a representative of a world that is hinted at, that hovers unseen behind our world, that may break through and destroy those who read the dreadful play. This world and its inhabitants are utterly alien and unknown to us. Only in this do these stories resemble those of H.P. Lovecraft, whom they are thought to have influenced. Otherwise, Chambers’s stories are concerned with the thoughts and emotions of their human characters. The King — whose garments are said to have “scolloped tatters” — is somewhat reminiscent of Lovecraft’s Nylarlathotep or possibly Azathoth. The lack of descriptions of him — only a few fascinating details — is what gives these stories their weird power.

The King in Yellow is definitely worth a read, not only by those who are interested in early weird fiction, but by anyone who would enjoy a vicarious visit to Paris as it was in the 1880s or 1890s.