Reading Group #14 ('The Repairer of Reputations')

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Reading Group #14 ('The Repairer of Reputations')

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1veilofisis
ag. 23, 2011, 1:14am

Alrighty. Here we are.

2veilofisis
ag. 25, 2011, 5:47pm

I'll get the ball rolling.

BUT HERE THAR BEE SPOILARS, MATEY, SO BE-WARR!

One thing that confounds and really disturbs me about this story is that, when our narrator's, er, 'issues' come to final light we are left wondering how much, if anything, he has told us ever really happened or is even partially accurate. For example, his description of the 'dystopian' qualities of life circa 1920 (which was the future when this story was written): is it possible that the 'suicide chambers' and blah blah blah are all just his own paranoid, delusional fantasies and that he's really just seeing people enter ordinary buildings and doing ordinary things for ordinary reasons? Is it possible that none of the people he's described, including the 'repairer of reputations' ever existed? And if they do, how much of the ending, when his insanity reaches its fever pitch, can be believed? These are pretty obvious questions set forth, I think, by the text, but our author chooses to skirt them entirely (aside from that tittilating last line (and I mean the 'editor's,' not our narrator's ravings about the King in Yellow)). (Incidentally, an excellent example of our narrator's unreliability is that he describes his 'diadem' as being set in solid gold with diamonds, even though his brother asks him why he has a brass crown lying around: our narrator passes this off as his brother's lack of knowledge, but I think its pretty clear, if subtle, that the crown IS brass and that our narrator is truly skirting the cliff's edge...)

I realize that what draws me to this story (and The King in Yellow as a whole) are the mechanisms and motifs with which it creates its mythology: and it's fascinating to think that the entire mythos of The King in Yellow begins with the first-person narration of a man who is clearly out of his mind. The poison that drips from that (fictional) book's pages couldn't be explained in a more sinister and all-encompassing way: when we get to later King in Yellow stories in the collection, like 'The Mask,' it raises further questions: clearly the narrator of 'Reputations' can not be getting ALL his details wrong (or at least his madness is more complex, and CREEPY!, than we can fathom), as the sculptor our narrator references off-hand in 'Reputations' is one of the main characters in 'The Mask!' I love touches like this, mostly because they make it hard to seperate the parts of a collective work like The King in Yellow; and, frustrating as that can be when we just want to read one of the stories, the power it generates on a complete reading is beyond words...

The King in Yellow, and I mean the 'fictional' play not the book itself, is supposed to poison the mind and change a man or woman forever by invading their thoughts with truths too difficult for any sane person to grapple with. What a brilliant idea. You can see the seeds of Lovecraft in this work without any real difficulty, but, though I adore H. P., I think that Chambers is the more interesting writer. Though the rest of his fiction bores me to tears, the King in Yellow quartet is entirely without peer for me, and 'The Repairer of Reputations' is the jewel in the crown. I can't think of many more interesting, and yet utterly enthralling, stories. Like Blackwood's 'The Listener,' this one gets me on many, many levels: not the least of which is sheer terror.

Absolutely marvelous.

3veilofisis
ag. 25, 2011, 5:48pm

(That seems to have become more of a review than a discussion post, but oh well...) :D

4AndreasJ
ag. 26, 2011, 2:10am

Regarding continuity, in "The Yellow Sign" the narrator refers to "the awful tragedy of young Castaigne": that story itself seems to be set more or less when it was written, as the narrator speaks with a young man who is a veteran of the battle of Tel-el-Kabir (1882).

5alaudacorax
ag. 26, 2011, 1:43pm

That is one powerful story.

#4 - So is there the possibility that the '1920' of the story is part of Castaigne's delusion and that the story is actually set in 1895 or whenever - or do the other stories of the group not allow that?

Not having read those other stories, am I right to assume that the play or book which is supposed to have driven Castaigne mad is 'real' and not a figment of his imagination - or at least to the extent of its supposed effect on people?

Hah - I've got to read the lot, now.

6AndreasJ
ag. 26, 2011, 2:10pm

I don't think there's anything to contradict all the stories being set in around the 1890s, apart from Castaigne's dubious authority. Also, the history Castaigne recounts at the beginning seems rather like a sort of nationalist's daydream.

The play itself and its effect on readers appears to be 'real'.

7veilofisis
ag. 26, 2011, 8:44pm

I agree with AndreasJ. I think the '1920s' setting is as much a part of Castaigne's fantasy as many (if not, perhaps, all) of the details presented to us in the story. And yeah, perfect wording: the opening of the story sounds like a 'nationalist's daydream.' I wonder what opinions Castaigne held, politically, before he began to unravel and how they've, like his relationships with other people, transformed since he has...?

Yes; the effect of the play on its reader does seem to be real. Subtler, perhaps, for other characters in the King in Yellow cycle (like in 'The Mask'), but for some just as intense (like 'In the Court of the Dragon,' which is probably my second favorite after 'The Repairer of Reputations.') 'Reputations' and 'The Yellow Sign' seem to most 'involve' the play in their own narratives, however.

I'm glad you liked it, Paul!

8veilofisis
set. 1, 2011, 7:29pm

This thread seems to have reached its conclusion, for now, so on to the next selection! I think it's time we revisited Poe. Something particularly gruesome, too! 'The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar.' New thread is up. :)

9brother_salvatore
set. 1, 2011, 7:31pm

Just got the story from the library a couple days ago, so I hope to offer some comments later in the week. Good choice for the next selection, I'll have to crack that open this week too!

10veilofisis
set. 1, 2011, 7:35pm

Oh, excellent! For some reason, I really think you'll like 'Reputations,' Salvatore...

11brother_salvatore
set. 1, 2011, 9:32pm

Oh, I'm sure I'll love it...haven't been disappointed yet by any of your recommendations.

12alaudacorax
set. 5, 2011, 9:20pm

I've avoided posting any more on this as, from some of your posts, I came to feel that I should first read the other three stories in the sequence to get this one properly into context.

I finally got round to having a go at them this evening and I've read 'The Mask' and 'In the Court of the Dragon' (I had to give up on 'The Yellow Sign' as it's 1:30am here and my powers of concentration have ... um ... what was I saying?)

Anyway, having finished 'Dragon', and thinking about it and remembering back to 'Reputations', it suddenly occurred to me to wonder exactly how much the reader can rely on the word of the narrator of 'The Mask' - and I mean as regards the whole plot, not just the details. After all, it becomes clear towards the end that the chap hasn't had a decent night's sleep in months and that he's familiar with this play that's not safely readable; and is there not a slight hint that they've been smoking something a little more exotic than the norm ("... new sensations in smoking ...") - which might bear on the fact that on the narrator's couple of climactic moments with Geneviève he has just been at his pipe?

It's really quite unsettling to have the author (possibly) pulling the carpet out from under one's feet in this way and it makes for a very powerful and thought-provoking story.*

Of course, the result with regards to this thread is that I'm now fully in tune with veilofisis's point in the OP that the reader has to look sceptically at practically everything that Castaigne says.

*Incidentally, I'm blaming it on the time of night, but I've yet to work out the significance of 'the mask' in 'The Mask' (if you see what I mean).

13alaudacorax
set. 5, 2011, 9:46pm

And now I can't sleep.

14alaudacorax
set. 5, 2011, 10:28pm

Would it be fair to say that these stories exist where Gothic, Decadent and Fin de siècle overlap, but with a bit less of the Gothic and a bit more of the other stuff?

15alaudacorax
set. 5, 2011, 10:39pm

I had another go at reading 'The Yellow Sign' and forgot to click 'Post message' on that last post. However, 'The Yellow Sign' answers my question in the negative as I think it's firmly back in the 'Gothic tale' mould with a vengeance.

The trouble is, now, that I don't at all see how its treatment of 'The King in Yellow' (the play) and the 'Yellow Sign' (whatever that may be) reflects back on the earlier stories. Perhaps in the morning.

16veilofisis
Editat: set. 6, 2011, 1:30pm

>14 alaudacorax:

I would agree entirely. The Gothic or terror thread creeps up more in some of the stories than others---and there are even some eerie, almost mystical layers to 'In the Court of the Dragon'---but the decadent seems to recur in each of them with a great deal of force, if the execution remains subtly distorted. I think that that blending of decadence with motifs we'd define as 'Gothic' is a key note in many fin de siecle classics. The Picture of Dorian Gray springs to mind immediately, and, to a lesser degree perhaps, Trilby. Dracula, even, has aspects of this fusion, though it exploits, like Dorian Gray, the Gothic to a larger extent than other examples.

Really good point, Paul. I think I might use it as an essay topic later this semester, actually.

(Edited for bloody touchstones!)

17pgmcc
Editat: set. 6, 2011, 4:58am

#16 I presume you mean Trilby by Charles Nodier and not the one by Diana Palmer. Those touchstones have a mind of their own, just like a supermarket trolly.

I feel totally behind the posse in this discussion group. There are lots of reasons for my not getting my homework done, but those are my problems, not yours. (I've been reviewing non-fiction and writing about Daleks.

I hope no-one minds my trotting along at the back and throwing in my five ha'pence worth every so often.

The suggested readings are great and they are prompting me to revisit old favourites and pushing me to read stories I've had for a long time and never made the effort to read.

Chambers will be new to me and I think I will take rankamateur's approach; i.e. read the other stories first before The Repairer of Reputations, not stay awake all night; although I see how that could happen.

18alaudacorax
set. 6, 2011, 6:48am

#16 - Always so much more to read - Decadent and Fin de siècle are another two concepts with which, like the Gothic, I don't think I've really got to grips. I've made a start on the Gothic, but ...

#17 - Well, I read them in book order, assuming Chambers meant them read that way, but not really sure about it after reading, though.

Some thoughts and questions:

First of all, I strongly feel that I've not by any means got properly to grips with these stories on just one reading each (actually, at least twice for the thread story and I'm still puzzling just as much over that one).

Having said that, I think that tentatively, and on the strength of these four stories alone (I don't think I'd ever heard of Chambers before joining this group), I'd put Chambers right up there in the 'super-league', alongside Edgar Allen Poe. I think these are something really special and I fully intend reading the rest of the book and more of Chambers' stuff in due course.

For those who have read the book, do you think the rest of it sheds any more light on these four stories and the underlying idea of this play? I've got the impression that they're a 'stand alone' group.

Actually, I think I'll stop there. I have so much buzzing round my brain on these stories (I actually woke up this morning with it buzzing round in there) that I really need to read them all again, perhaps a few more times, and put in some heavy-duty pondering on them. So don't be surprised if I'm back gnawing away at this particular bone in another couple of weeks.

19veilofisis
set. 6, 2011, 1:29pm

16

Actually, I meant George du Maurier's Trilby! These touchstones drive me crazy!

17

I'm so glad you've gotten into these! They're certainly in a super-league for me, too! I don't generally reread things without giving them at least a few weeks' breathing room, but the first time I encountered these stories (October 2009) I managed to reread them all, on a loop, perhaps four or five times each within the space of a month. It seems remarkable that such a small body of work can hold such a potent fascination: but then, maybe the King in Yellow's slimness is part of its success: the vistas of interpretation are so wide in this quartet of stories that adding any more to the mix may have robbed the cycle of some its 'grace' (for lack of a better word).

As for the remaining King in Yellow stories: I think that the four 'canon' tales certainly stand alone. The other stories are dry, maudlin sentimentalism at best; and what's more, they have absolutely nothing to do with the quartet. I'd still read them, for context, since Chambers clearly saw fit to publish them as one volume, but I wouldn't devote too much time to them or give them much consideration even as stand-alone works.

I'm glad you decided to read all four. I was going to make this thread an over-all read of the four stories, but thought that might intimidate some of our readers. Funny how things work out, though, and now it seems most of you are reading all four anyway! :D

20alaudacorax
set. 6, 2011, 2:00pm

#19 - ... dry, maudlin sentimentalism at best ...

Oh! That's a disappointment - though, now I come to think of it, I think you've said something similar elsewhere. Should I class these as Chambers hitting a rare peak?

21AndreasJ
set. 6, 2011, 2:05pm

Of the remaining tales in the collection, "The Demoiselle d'Ys" and "The Street of the First Shell" are the best in my opinion.

If Chambers saw any unity among the whole collection, it certainly escapes me. The last two stories share characters with Chambers' earlier novel In the Quarter, but not with the other stories in the collection. Maybe they were just published together because they were written close together in time?

22AndreasJ
set. 6, 2011, 2:11pm

20 > Chambers mostly wrote romance stories (which doubtlessly paid better than gothica). He's got some more weird stories to his name (which I haven't read), but the unanimous critical opinion seems to be that the first four stories of TKiY are his best.

23alaudacorax
set. 6, 2011, 4:27pm

#22 - Ah, right. A shame - I was imagining whole bookfuls like those four. What you, and veil in #19, say probably explains why I'd never heard of him.

24alaudacorax
set. 7, 2011, 3:02pm

#12 - *Incidentally, I'm blaming it on the time of night, but I've yet to work out the significance of 'the mask' in 'The Mask' (if you see what I mean).

Twit! I really should not stay up that late.

25elenchus
Editat: abr. 10, 2019, 10:21am

Cross-posting to this thread in The Weird Tradition group, for reference.

26elenchus
abr. 12, 2019, 1:27pm

>19 veilofisis: As for the remaining King in Yellow stories: I think that the four 'canon' tales certainly stand alone. The other stories are dry, maudlin sentimentalism at best; and what's more, they have absolutely nothing to do with the quartet.

I wouldn't say "absolutely nothing" though it's true the remaining stories are quite unlike the quartet. However, there are glancing references:
● THE DEMOISELLE D'YS: Jeanne D'ys is a French homophone for jaundice, and a falconer is named Hastur
● THE PROPHETS' PARADISE includes references to a white mask and a Phantom

It's unclear what they mean, but with all direct description to the King in Yellow so scant even in the quartet of stories, it seems improbable these parallels in the remaining stories are mere coincidence.

27frahealee
gen. 29, 2020, 4:43pm

Bumping this thread topside since I now have a copy of The King in Yellow and plan to start with this story and progress from there. Saving the above comments for after it's done, in case there are cross-references.

28WeeTurtle
gen. 30, 2020, 12:43am

I've read the main 4, or listened to them, rather. "The Repairer of Reputations" did strike me as being the most sort of referential as far as the Yellow King went, and the most straight forward, though I'm not sure what role the actual repairer had, if I have the right character in my head.

"The Mask" I've listened to a few times, and it's one of those stories that I can follow while I'm reading it, and grasp an understanding, but recalling it now is not so easy.

I listened to a youtube review called "Let's Talk about The King in Yellow" and it mentioned how the collection really doesn't go into the details of the Yellow King and the Yellow Sign beyond the first four, and actually suspects it was Chambers trying to enter into a new literary market away from horror and into romance. I read one other, that involved a white cat and an artist but I don't recall which story that was. I think it was something about a South Wind or Four Winds? I could google this but my internet is being fussy.

29AndreasJ
gen. 30, 2020, 12:58am

>28 WeeTurtle: suspects it was Chambers trying to enter into a new literary market away from horror and into romance

I don't think that can be true, because he wrote, or at least published, no horror before The King in Yellow. His only previous book, In the Quarter is, I'm told, a Parisian romance in the style of some of the later stories in TKiY.

30WeeTurtle
gen. 30, 2020, 9:05pm

>29 AndreasJ: Interesting. I'll have to watch it again.

When I search for details on the King in Yellow, I hear about the play and the things that happen but I haven't encountered a lot that seems to show that as far as the literature, unless some of that is coming from other representations like Lovecraft's Hastur, but then, Hastur is apparently only mentioned in passing in the one story, The Whisperer in the Darkness. I've been trying to get hold of more literature but haven't found any outside of Chambers, Bierce, and the aforementioned short story.

31AndreasJ
gen. 31, 2020, 12:34am

Chaosium's The Hastur Cycle anthologizes a selection of stories dealing with Hastur.

32housefulofpaper
feb. 5, 2020, 6:36pm

This is the contents of The King in Yellow:

The Repairer of Reputations
The Mask
The Court of the Dragon
The Yellow Sign
The Demoiselle D'Ys
The Prophets' Paradise
The Street of the Four Winds
The Street of the First Shell
The Street of Our Lady Of the Fields
Rue Barree

You've got the four celebrated weird stories first, four non-fantastical stories named after Parisian streets or quarters at the end.

In the middle, a supernatural but gentle and romantic story ( "The Demoiselle D'Ys") followed by a rather precious and very of-its-time piece (is it a prose-poem? a drama?) with references to the Commedia del Arte ("The Prophets' Paradise").

There are perhaps weak connections across all the stories. The all concern artist living a bohemian life but displaying what might appear a contradictorily quaint moral code in matters of the heart. This show up in the weird tales as much s in the "La Boheme" type tales. And horror isn't confined to the weird tales as "The Street of the First Shell" takes place during the siege of Paris during the Franco-Prussian War and doesn't stint on the horrors visited on the inhabitants of the city.

The sentimentality and the flashes of brutality in the non-weird stories seem an odd mix, but also reminiscent of the scenarios of silent films of the '20s. I think I read that Chambers worked as a screenwriter in Hollywood. Maybe it would be truer to say that he influenced the development of movies?

Modern writers who use the elements of Chambers Jauniste fiction have confused me (if they are not taking Lovecraft rather than Chambers are their starting point). They seem too removed from the world Chambers set up. I think perhaps the "missing link" is in Role Playing Games rather than traditional fiction. Does anyone know?

33AndreasJ
feb. 6, 2020, 3:45am

>32 housefulofpaper:

There's not much to take as a starting point in Lovecraft; he invokes names and concepts like "Hastur" and "the Yellow Sign", but doesn't elaborate on them.

The missing link may be Derleth, who made Hastur into a Cthulhu-like entity.

34frahealee
Editat: feb. 11, 2020, 3:25pm

This information made my mouth water for the whole book, so I indulged sooner than expected, and revised my preference list as each story was read, rather than reading them all through and trying to sort them after, to pinpoint a my favourite plus a runner up. Several will need to be revisited.

1. The Court of the Dragon
(I remember hearing this audiobook before, and it stuck with me, although I had no idea at the time what The King in Yellow meant - the setting/experience is sufficient as a stand alone story.)
2. The Demoiselle D'Ys (love me some moors and a Loup-Garou)
3. The Yellow Sign (dream element overlap, Adam and Eve 'fall' after temptation vivid/effective)
4. The Prophets' Paradise (poetic repetition, immediately wanted to re-read, pale clown, pale death ie. comedy/tragedy)
5. The Street of Our Lady of the Fields
6. Rue Barree (simplicity of fixating on something one cannot possess)
7. The Mask (although I saw the end approaching, it was so well written that the reveal didn't matter)
8. The Repairer of Reputations (how much do I despise cats?! and politics is close behind)
9. The Street of the Four Winds (ugh, makes me intollerably itchy, evil lurks but was not scary)
10. The Street of the First Shell (went on too long, could have been modified into a novel, war theme with twists)

The author sounds like quite a novelty. Trained as an artist in Paris, as a writer in Germany, born and died in New York, dabbled in history and environmental issues alongside his artistic ventures. With a prestigious start, he could pursue any avenue he wished, whenever he wished, without much worry of failure. Good for him to crank out various short/long works to keep his critics guessing.

I have no problem with a collection of short stories by one author with varying themes. In fact, I'd prefer it! If some resemble each other, dandy-o, and if not, fine. Maybe alphabetical selection, maybe chronological as suggested above, maybe just a cross-section of what intrigued him at the time. Chambers sounds like a diverse fellow with a variety of inspirations.

Really looking forward to this segment now, but I intend to read the above-titled story first, as initially intended, and go from there. The stories will be added to the numbers above as I read them, and will trade off. Curious how there are only 8 tv/film credits for Chambers after 1930, and 25 prior.

35WeeTurtle
feb. 10, 2020, 1:17am

>32 housefulofpaper:
>33 AndreasJ:

I can comment on the RPG front, at least somewhat. "Call of Cthulhu" or "something Cthulhu" is the standard RPG that invokes Lovecraft to my knowledge. It was re-released again last year for the third or fourth time I think? On computer anyway. It was also a table top RPG. I'm not sure if it (the game) relates directly to the story by that name or if it's just what it uses because Cthulhu is the go-to Lovecraft monster. It seems to have Innsmouth leanings.

In the online game "The Secret World" there are cults and I think the "Dragon" refers to Cthulhu and the great old ones. In standard DnD, the warlock class has the option to forged a pact with the "Great Old Ones" which my Warlock does. The nature of warlocks is that they make bargains or pacts with worldly or otherworldly powers for their magics and The Yellow King could easily fit in there.

Just yesterday I noticed an early alpha release for "The Yellow King" which is described as an MMO based on the writings of Lovecraft. This threw me a bit because that feels like a disconnect. I'm not sure if the developers or designers really wanted to invoke The Yellow King literature (in which case they should have said "Chambers" I imagine) or the name sounded cooler in marketing than Hastur.

An aside, there's another Yellow King figure in the SCP Foundation if people are familiar with it. I only just started bumping into it online. One person described it as what happens when you crowdsource horror. People make up their own monsters and such and assign them a number and a name and it all goes into a big pile called the SCP Foundation. There's a figure in there called "The Hanged King" that is very much based off the guy, or so I hear. I haven't actually read the accompanying fiction.

That's what I have on the top off my head for direct Lovecraft inspired games but there are more that don't state his name directly but the reference is pretty obvious. "Darkest Dungeon" for example.

36AndreasJ
feb. 10, 2020, 11:04am

The tabletop RPG isn't specifically related to the eponymous short story, but presumably adopted the name because Cthulhu has become Lovecraft's most famous creation (in turn perhaps more than anything else because Derleth chose to speak of the "Cthulhu Mythos"). A session is more likely to resemble the plot of "The Dunwich Horror" than that of "The Call of Cthulhu".

But the RPG dates from the early '80s, when Derleth and others had already penned quite a few pastiches, including ones portraying Hastur as a tentaculate alien god.

37WeeTurtle
feb. 11, 2020, 4:13am

Here are a couple of things I found just now:

The Yellow King rpg that launched on a kickstarter.
https://site.pelgranepress.com/index.php/announcing-the-yellow-king-rpg/

And this is a short ad about the computer game.
https://massivelyop.com/2019/10/15/the-yellow-king-is-a-new-mmo-heading-for-a-ha...

I looked up the recent Call of Cthulhu and it's apparently an attempt at a computer game remake of the old tabletop game.

38frahealee
Editat: feb. 13, 2020, 11:04am

>28 WeeTurtle: The story you refer to about the cat/artist was as you suspected, The Street of the Four Winds. I missed the fact the cat was white (fur missing/bedraggled/gaunt appearance more jarring) but it did have yellow eyes, mentioned multiple times.

A through-line of yellow or pale/white seems consistent in each story, plus other overlaps:

The Repairer of Reputations (see below)
The Mask
(Easter lily, white foam, golden ray, ancient fossils in silica, have you struck gold, silvery-grey gown/white fingers, marble Cupid, white canvass, he turned pale, big white rabbit, young child, she looked very white, wolf head, fever, light-headed, goldfish, milky foam, book found in studio was The King in Yellow, feverish words, bloodless face, the Pallid Mask, heart washed clean, the mask of self-deception, night lifted it, stifled truth, white creatures, cry/lake/towers, sunlight, cowardice, the fates, white as snow, last will, the Madonna's protection, Orient Express, Bombay, Paris, bright spring weather, suffocating, Channel Isles, painting, April afternoon 2yrs later, wolf skin, yellow key, sunlight poured through window, Cupid, knelt making the Sign of the Cross, kiss, dreams, Rue Saint Cecile (patron saint of music), fresh fragile fragrant, the Madonna smiled, sculptor/Boris/23, Genevieve/18, narrator-Alec/20, Jack Scott)
In the Court of the Dragon
(something being hunted, the Sign of the Cross, seeking peace, numbed, had been reading The King in Yellow, organist, white face contrasts with black clothing, look of hate, intense and deadly, young child, basilisk, anaemic complexion, sun shining, yellow jonquils, white Roman hyacinths, something uncomfortable lies dormant, chestnut, children and young mothers, last rays of sunset, slender frame, the will and power to work evil, the Bois, physical fatigue and mental suffering, balcony, huge gates, stairways, iron workers, metal bars, painters, students, when I first moved here I was young and not alone, Cour du Dragon also mentioned in final Rue Barree story, the time had come, I faced him, retreated, shadow of archway, vault, blackness/darkness, defied him, torture chambers, death, lost souls, slender, vaulted roof, lake/moon/stars/tower of Carcosa, radiance, flame, the Living God)
The Yellow Sign
(model posing in studio, Adam/Eve innocence then fallen, a book bound in serpent skin, pale lettering on the back, yellow/gold symbol on black onyx, Pallid Mask)
The Demoiselle D'Ys
(Philip, yellowed pages of ancient manuscript, white bird is a gyrfalcon, the other a merlin, grey viper, Jeanne's white face, icy slab of stone beneath the statue of Our Lady of Sorrows, scented glove)
The Prophets' Paradise
(whitening ashes, white petals, white clown face in mirror, paler face of death)
The Street of the Four Winds
(yellow cat eyes were emphasized three different times, the sky paled, name of Sylvia, an artist apartment in the Latin-Quarter and a sculptor's den mentioned)
The Street of the First Shell
(19yr old 'Sylvia' is a character here also, as is Philippe, deathly white, white bread, white flags with red crosses, sculptor, 'the fog was peopled with phantoms', 'very pale' from fear in the flanks, the cellar was flooded with a yellow light, Hercules the cat, Colette was brave and reassured men with cowardice)
The Street of Our Lady of the Fields
(Latin-Quarter of Paris, chestnut trees clad in pink and white, a vision of a white house, 'they are full of marble statues' invokes The Mask and other stories mentioning a sculptor, white-capped nurses, bulldog, marble bench, Cupid, Colette mentioned in a former story, as was Hercules, gloved hand, the girl rose very white, a dozen mentions of birds and butterflies, painted white and blue, yellow/white/pale? butter with croissants, cluster of lilies at her throat, bright sunlight, trout fishing, train)
Rue Barree
(yellow roses, model posing in studio, student populated Latin Quarter, Clifford/Elliott/Rowden/Colette/Julian names used again here as in OLotF, the unattainable lady is an object of adoration with a heart of ice, marble bridge, bulldogs, sunshine of a perfect day, the room was small and white and the extreme purity of everything, white chintz curtains, contemplating the dragon on the balcony overhanging the Cour du Dragon)
* A funny image in my mind each time 'rue' is said during the audiobook versions, is that I envision 'roux' which is a white cream sauce made with butter/flour, which is a very basic French sauce known as béchamel! Could not shake that reflex even when reading along on my Kobo.

It's as though the author took a traditional trope like yellow sunshine or pale/white dove purity and flipped so that it becomes more menacing than a traditional black/brown/grey image, in an altogether unexpected manner. Lots of reference to 'fate'. Methinks HPLovecraft would like the rat-killer in 'Shell'.

One thing's for certain, one reading is not nearly enough. Visually I notice different things in print than I do listening to various online audiobooks, even when combined! Fascinating reflex. Also, I find the female voice less effective to convey the story than the male. It softens the edges of the story, makes it seem less menacing for some reason, even though the male voice is melodious and soothing. Likely the shoes of the narrator fit better on one than the other. I like the fact that the content of the 'inner' play is not elaborated on, since it makes it seem more dangerous, that if I as a reader reviewed the text, I might also fall under its cloak of madness, which is part of the magic of the writing! Hidden/secret/mysterious? Yeah!

Dragon remains my favourite, for so much conveyed in its ultimate brevity.

39housefulofpaper
feb. 11, 2020, 7:46pm

>38 frahealee:
Wow! I was vaguely aware of those echoes and correspondences across the stories but you certainly put the work in to document them! It does show that the story collection has a thematic unity and isn't "four good weird stories and some makeweight material".

It's interesting what you say about reading a book, as against listening to an audiobook. I don't listen to a lot of audiobooks but my initial thought was that I am quite fussy about them; I can't get on with the "wrong voice" or can't get on with the decisions about e.g. where the stresses and emphases fall - "the reading", in other words. But then, I'm lucky enough to be able to listen to BBC Radio 4 which has plenty of book and story readings and although I may not be interested in the subject matter the performance rarely puts me off. So maybe I'm comparing the audiobook unfavourable only when I've arleady read the story to myself and the "definitive" performance is the one I did in my head! How arrogant, if that's what's going on!

40WeeTurtle
feb. 11, 2020, 8:56pm

>38 frahealee: Boris is in The Mask as well, yeah? Was he the protag in Repairer? I just remember the madness catching up to him.

I like audiobooks when the narrator is good. I got tired with Horrorbabble for a bit, so I listened to The Yellow King's main four on another channel that narrated public domain stuff. I think I went through The Mask three times and Court of the Dragon twice. I believe I both read and listened to Repairer because I had a horror anthology at the time that had Chamber's work, but I remember only reading part of it before switching to the audio.

I tend to prefer male voices, but I lean that way with singing as well, or at least deeper voices. I think it's because men can pull of a decent female voice (or at least they get a pass) while women reading for men tend to sound hokey. (One exception is Jennifer Gill narrating a Lovecraft poem though. Can never recall the name, but I go back to it lots.)

41AndreasJ
feb. 12, 2020, 12:53am

>40 WeeTurtle:

Boris is mentioned in "Repairer", but doesn't make an appearance. The protagonist is Castaigne, who is in turn mentioned in "The Yellow Sign".

42frahealee
Editat: feb. 13, 2020, 9:50am

>39 housefulofpaper: I went through the stories one after another on ebook, then flew through them the second time listening to the public domain audio as I read them, so as not to miss specific words and phrases, pausing often to highlight notes on my Kobo, summed up in the above post. I'm sure with a third sweep, I'd find yet more descriptive detail. But, War & Peace awaits... 2/3 done!

'Repairer' was very tough for me to connect to, which is why it didn't place higher on my best to worst listing, although it has that residual creepy image that lasts far longer than you want it to, as with The Beetle by Marsh. I loved that book, but it really took awhile to shake. That always reflects great writing.

I don't think you're arrogant in preferring your own voice, but I have a soft spot for many readers who are obviously trying to learn ESL through practice. With F. Scott Fitzgerald, as I think I've mentioned elsewhere, my first audio experience online (Tender is the Night) was unsatisfactory since my instinct was to find it incomplete or missing something. Getting a paperback in hand, with a replay of the audio, I realized an entire chapter was missing! From that moment, if I 'cheat' with an audio version (often to improve focus at dusk or dawn), I must have a printed/ebook text also. That overrides any potential misunderstandings or annoyances.

My notes continue to expand, for The Repairer of Reputations and its cohorts, as varying opinions are absorbed, and more author bio seeps in. The Yellow Wallpaper affected me much more than any of these ten stories, at the time that I read it, so some seemed unremarkable but still enjoyable while others were disturbing and hard to follow. Some (ie. moors/falcon) were too short for my liking and begged for an extended plot. All in all, a rousing experience worthy of the copious amount of research. All RC elements hit their target.

43frahealee
Editat: feb. 13, 2020, 12:50pm

>38 frahealee: In needing time to transpose my Kobo notes, combined with further thoughts on The Repairer of Reputations, I've sifted through some overlooked elements and posted them here, since the other 9 stories took up enough room (mostly concerning setting):

(in NYC the summer of 1899 removal of elevated railroads, 4yrs since fall from horse with pains in the back of head/neck, 'brain affected' diagnosis led to asylum stay, revenge seemed to fuel ambition, troubled unease, read during convalescence a copy of The King in Yellow thrown in the fire then retrieved, 2nd act riveting, Carcosa, twin suns, the Pallid Mask, April 13 1920 date of first government lethal chamber, gardens/lawns/flowers/fountains and small white building, brief reference to Boris/sculptor/23/Paris who crafted 'the fates' on display, white marble death chamber, armourer and daughter, fascinating sound of hammer mentioned also in Dragon (as though it brought on hypnotic trance) described as a 'ray of sunshine' cut off when the sound ceases, cousin/Louis/Lewis, Dr. Archer, Wilde has a steel trap memory, the Marquis, 3 flights of stairs, lunatic evokes luna or full moon or wolf?, gothic 'dwarf' trope without ears or fingers on left hands, vanity, eccentric, demon cat, dying spider, 500 employed from fear, they are all cowards thus unlikely to turn on him, editor of NY daily visit, manuscript notes up to Dec.19th 1877 and Hildred etc., yellow sign not sent to California or the Northwest, Caesar/Napoleon/King in Yellow, followed by 'perhaps Constance does not love him' completely out of the blue, which makes it seem like Wilde is an imaginary friend subject to the narrator's own mental distraction and stream of consciousness lack of logic, military music distracted 'them', yellow/white banners, white riding breeches with a double yellow stripe, jingle of spurs was appealing, Wilde encouraged him to see his cousin, cane aimed at cat missed, Bleeker St., vault in his bedroom, solid steel doors, velvet/gold/diamonds, went to window in study, fat white horse, spring sunshine, nurses/pasty-faced babies, white granite artillery stables, gilded iron railing, white peacocks/drab pigeons, paused before the fates/3 faces, bronze doors, milk/curds, Wilde is stark mad, head shaped like a criminal, low-bred, small gloved fingers, ivory-headed cane, noble north river, golden hues, facing Jersey shore, Staten Island woods, churned sunlight waters, railroad transports brown/blue/white, ferries/tugs/steamers/sails, white warships include falcon torpedo boat, 998 Pell St., princes emblazoned, no care for money, he looked at him like Dr.Archer, no I'm not mentally unstable, smiled although miffed by tone, go trout fishing, hemisphere, take tram to mountains, athletics/yachting/shooting/riding, though not since his fall, narrator was in need of a reputation to be repaired, white decks of warships, suppressed jealousy, white face in the mirror, knife, theatrical tinsel worth fifty cents, the safe was a biscuit box, are you ill?, flicked riding whip at flies, bad brandy, like an owl with books on Napoleon/King, 'I don't want to be driven crazy', author shot himself or still alive, supreme essence of art or a crime, marriage/best man/tipping point of sanity, fool that he was, Captain, SFO, getting to limit of endurance, California would not receive the yellow sign so San Francisco would be a 'safe' exile from NYC/Chicago, silken robe embroidered with the yellow sign, hatchet to kill cat, throat covered, manuscript final viewing, Osgood Oswald Vance (forgery/pardoned/$30k debt) in shadows, keep that man away, I shall go mad again, Wilde leapt on Vance, coughed, heraldry/lakes/Camila, the last king, exile or death without marriage, son of Hastur, black stars, cannot disregard yellow sign, the Pallid Mask, signed Hildred Rex, head in hands, a new knife, fragrance troubled him, new moon, bats, rapid jerky flight made him edgy, mounted sentry, barred gate closed, jingle of spurs again, no loiterers, midnight rang from new spire of St. Francis Xavier, triple gold arabesque, same glance as doctor from Louis/Lewis, read manuscript without interruption, rubbish, etc. )

The story often brought to mind the scene in Amadeus (1984) where Mozart (played by Tom Hulce) is reprimanded for composing an opera based on a banned play, The Barber of Seville. Salieri hired a maid to spy on Mozart and convey seemingly basic details to him, and during a brief visit when the apartment is empty, he finds the paperwork underway and reports to the court of Emperor Joseph II.