Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Commonly pronounced /ˈruːli.ə/ or /rɨˈlaɪ.ə/)



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R'lyeh is in the middle of one of the biggest patches of empty ocean on Earth.
R'lyeh or Relex (IPA: [ˈrəʔˌlʲɛx]; commonly pronounced /ˈruːli.ə/ or /rɨˈlaɪ.ə/[1]) is a fictional city that first appeared in the story "The Call of Cthulhu",[2] by H. P. Lovecraft. R'lyeh is also referred to in Lovecraft's "The Mound" as Relex. R'lyeh is a sunken city located deep under the Pacific Ocean and is where the godlike being Cthulhu is buried.
R'lyeh's bizarre architecture is characterized by its non-Euclidean geometry.[3]



[edit] Description

The nightmare corpse-city of R'lyeh…was built in measureless eons behind history by the vast, loathsome shapes that seeped down from the dark stars. There lay great Cthulhu and his hordes, hidden in green slimy vaults.
— H. P. Lovecraft, "The Call of Cthulhu"
When R'lyeh rises in Lovecraft's short story "The Call of Cthulhu" (1928), the only portion of the city that emerges is a single "hideous monolith-crowned citadel" in which Cthulhu is entombed. The human onlookers are awed by the sheer immensity of the city and by the frightening suggestiveness of the gargantuan statues and bas-reliefs.
The city is a panorama of "vast angles and stone surfaces ... too great to belong to anything right and proper for this earth, and impious with horrible images and disturbing hieroglyphs." The geometry of R’lyeh is "abnormal, non-Euclidean, and loathsomely redolent of spheres and dimensions apart from ours."
In Lovecraft's stories, R'lyeh is sometimes referred to in the ritualistic phrase "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn", which roughly translates to "In his house at R'lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming".[4]

[edit] Location

Lovecraft said that R'lyeh is located at 47°9′S 126°43′W / 47.15°S 126.717°W / -47.15; -126.717 (R'lyeh fictional location (Lovecraft)) in the southern Pacific Ocean.[5] August Derleth later placed R'lyeh at 49°51′S 128°34′W / 49.85°S 128.567°W / -49.85; -128.567 (R'lyeh fictional location (Derleth)) in his own writings.[6] Both locations are close to the Pacific pole of inaccessibility (48°52.6′S 123°23.6′W / 48.8767°S 123.3933°W / -48.8767; -123.3933 (Oceanic Pole of Inaccessibility)), the point in the ocean farthest from any land. Derleth's coordinates place the city approximately 5100 nautical miles (5900 statute miles or 9500 kilometers), or about ten days journey for a fast ship, from the real island of Pohnpei (Ponape). Ponape also plays a part in the Cthulhu Mythos as the place where the "Ponape Scripture", a text describing Cthulhu, was found.
Charles Stross's novella A Colder War implicitly locates R'lyeh in the Baltic sea, describing Cthulhu as being "scraped from a nest in the drowned wreckage of a city on the Baltic floor".[7] In Nick Mamatas' novel Move Under Ground, it is located off the coast of California.
According to Donald Tyson's book Necronomicon: The Wanderings of Alhazred, the island and/or city of R'lyeh, sank beneath the water in the Ocean south of Cathay. Cathay is an archaic name for China. According to this reference, R'lyeh would be more likely located in the South China Sea, or possibly the Pacific Ocean, within Earth's eastern hemisphere.

[edit] Footnotes

  1. ^ As on the non-canonical CD A Shoggoth on the Roof
  2. ^ Lovecraft, H. P.. ""The Call of Cthulhu"". http://www.mythostomes.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=30&Itemid=75. 
  3. ^ Lovecraft's "pseudo-geometry" supposes that certain shapes can extend into other dimensions; thus, appearing "non-Euclidean" from a human perspective. According to Robert Weinberg, this is impossible. Since the three-dimensional world is a closed system, no structure could be built so as to overlap into another dimension. (Robert Weinberg, "H. P. Lovecraft and Pseudomathematics", Discovering H. P. Lovecraft, pp. 88–91.)
  4. ^ Pearsall, "R'lyeh", The Lovecraft Lexicon, p. 345.
  5. ^ Lovecraft, "The Call of Cthulhu", The Dunwich Horror and Others, p. 150.
  6. ^ Derleth, "The Black Island", Quest for Cthulhu the great, p. 426.
  7. ^ A Colder War - a novelette by Charles Stross

[edit] References

  • Derleth, August (2000) [1952]. "The Black Island". Quest for Cthulhu. New York, NY: Carroll & Graf. ISBN 0-7867-0752-6. 
  • Harms, Daniel (1998). "R'lyeh". The Encyclopedia Cthulhiana (2nd ed. ed.). Oakland, CA: Chaosium. pp. 255. ISBN 1-56882-119-0. 
  • Lovecraft, Howard P. (1984) [1928]. "The Call of Cthulhu". in S. T. Joshi (ed.). The Dunwich Horror and Others (9th corrected printing ed.). Sauk City, WI: Arkham House. ISBN 0-87054-037-8.  Definitive version.
  • Pearsall, Anthony B. (2005). The Lovecraft Lexicon (1st ed. ed.). Tempe, AZ: New Falcon. ISBN 1-56184-129-3. 
  • Schweitzer, Darrell (ed.) (2001). Discovering H. P. Lovecraft. Holicong, PA: Wildside Press. ISBN 1587154706. 


The King in Yellow

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The King in Yellow  
The King in Yellow.jpg
Cover of a later printing of the 1895 edition of The King in Yellow
Author Robert W. Chambers
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Horror short stories
Publisher F.T. Neely
Publication date 1895
Media type Print (Hardback)
Pages 316 pp
The King in Yellow is a collection of short stories written by Robert W. Chambers and published in 1895. The stories could be categorized as early horror fiction or Victorian Gothic fiction, but the work also touches on mythology, fantasy, mystery, science fiction and romance. The first four stories in the collection involve a fictional two-act play of the same title.



[edit] Stories

The first four stories are loosely connected by three main devices:
  • A play in book form entitled The King in Yellow
  • A mysterious and malevolent supernatural entity known as The King in Yellow
  • An eerie symbol called The Yellow Sign
These stories are macabre in tone, centering on characters that are often artists or decadents. The first story "The Repairer of Reputations", is set in an imagined future 1920s America.
The other stories in the book do not follow the macabre theme of the first four, and most are written in the romantic fiction style common to Chambers' later work. Some are linked to the preceding stories by their Parisien setting and artistic protagonists.

[edit] List of stories

The stories present in the book are:

[edit] The play called The King in Yellow

The fictional play The King in Yellow has two acts, and at least three characters: Cassilda, Camilla, and the King in Yellow. Chambers' story collection excerpts sections from the play to introduce the book as a whole, or individual stories. For example, "Cassilda's Song" comes from Act I, Scene 2 of the play:
Along the shore the cloud waves break,
The twin suns sink beneath the lake,
The shadows lengthen
In Carcosa.
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.
Song of my soul, my voice is dead;
Die thou, unsung, as tears unshed
Shall dry and die in
Lost Carcosa.
The short story "The Mask" is introduced by an excerpt from Act I, Scene 2d:
Camilla: You, sir, should unmask.
Stranger: Indeed?
Cassilda: Indeed, it's time. We have all laid aside disguise but you.
Stranger: I wear no mask.
Camilla: (Terrified, aside to Cassilda.) No mask? No mask!
All of the excerpts come from Act I. The stories describe Act I as quite ordinary, but reading Act II drives the reader mad with the "irresistible" revealed truths. “The very banality and innocence of the first act only allowed the blow to fall afterward with more awful effect.” Even seeing of the first page of the second act is enough to draw the reader in: “If I had not caught a glimpse of the opening words in the second act I should never have finished it [...]” (“The Repairer of Reputations”).
Chambers usually gives only scattered hints of the contents of the full play, as in this extract from "The Repairer of Reputations":
He mentioned the establishment of the Dynasty in Carcosa, the lakes which connected Hastur, Aldebaran and the mystery of the Hyades. He spoke of Cassilda and Camilla, and sounded the cloudy depths of Demhe, and the Lake of Hali. "The scolloped tatters of the King in Yellow must hide Yhtill forever," he muttered, but I do not believe Vance heard him. Then by degrees he led Vance along the ramifications of the Imperial family, to Uoht and Thale, from Naotalba and Phantom of Truth, to Aldones, and then tossing aside his manuscript and notes, he began the wonderful story of the Last King.
A similar passage occurs in "The Yellow Sign", in which two protagonists have read The King in Yellow:
Night fell and the hours dragged on, but still we murmured to each other of the King and the Pallid Mask, and midnight sounded from the misty spires in the fog-wrapped city. We spoke of Hastur and of Cassilda, while outside the fog rolled against the blank window-panes as the cloud waves roll and break on the shores of Hali.

[edit] Influences

Chambers borrowed the names Carcosa, Hali and Hastur from Ambrose Bierce, specifically his short storiesAn Inhabitant of Carcosa” and “Haita the Shepherd”. There is no strong indication that Chambers was influenced beyond liking the names. For example, Hastur is a god of shepherds in “Haita the Shepherd”, but is implicitly a location in “The Repairer of Reputations”, listed alongside the Hyades and Aldebaran.[1]
Possible influences may include Edgar Allan Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death". Its synopsis is similar to Chamber's fictional play: a masquerade is held by decadent members of the aristocracy. They isolate themselves from the outside world where the Red Death, a plague, reigns supreme. At the end of the masquerade, a stranger appears, wearing a bloodied shroud and a mask figuring a Red Death victim. When the shocked dancers try to unmask him, they find nothing but an empty shroud and a Mask; then they die from the plague, one by one.[2] In both stories, colors have an ominous importance and the strangers are both portents of death and destruction.
Other texts, especially from the symbolist writers, may have influenced Chambers as well: "Le Roi au masque d'or" (The king in the gold mask), a short story written by Marcel Schwob, a French novelist and a friend of Oscar Wilde was published in 1893 while Chambers was still studying in Paris. In this story, a king rules a city where all inhabitants are masked. One day a strange blind beggar comes into his palace. After meeting with the beggar, the king, believing he's afflicted by leprosy, feels compelled to remove his mask; he then tears his own eyes out and leaves his city. A beggar now, the former king heads toward the faraway "city of the wretched" but dies before the end of his journey[3].
It is also possible that the play Salome by Oscar Wilde published in 1893, may have been another symbolist source of inspiration for the King in Yellow. As the fictional play, it has been originally written in French before being translated, then banned in Britain because of its scandalous reputation. Wilde's play, in one act, involves a queen, a princess, a king and an ominous prophet clad in camel's hair dress, Iokanaan, whose appearance may bring untold and terrible events[4]. The ominous language used, the drama, the feeling of unease and expectation evokes Chamber's play; on page 1 of the play, the moon is described as a "little princess who wears a yellow veil"; on pages 3 and 9, the young Syrian says: "How pale the princess is! Never have I seen her so pale." On page 16, the young Syrian is named by Salome: his name is Narraboth and he beseeches Salome to avoid looking at Iokannan and, finally, commits suicide[5]. It must be added that Marcel Schwob corrected the original French version of Salomé on behalf of Oscar Wilde.

[edit] Cthulhu Mythos

H.P. Lovecraft read The King in Yellow in early 1927[6] and included passing references to various things and places from the book — such as the Lake of Hali and the Yellow Sign — in “The Whisperer in Darkness” (1931),[7] one of his seminal Cthulhu Mythos stories. Lovecraft borrowed Chambers' method of only vaguely referring to supernatural events, entities, and places, thereby allowing his readers to imagine the horror for themselves. The fictional play The King in Yellow effectively became another piece of occult literature in the Cthulhu Mythos alongside the Necronomicon and others.
In the story, Lovecraft linked the Yellow Sign to Hastur, but from his brief (and only) mention it is not clear what Lovecraft meant Hastur to be. August Derleth developed Hastur into a Great Old One in his controversial reworking of Lovecraft's universe, elaborating on this connection in his own mythos stories. In the writings of Derleth and a few other latter-day Cthulhu Mythos authors, the King in Yellow is an avatar of Hastur, so named because of his appearance as a thin, floating man covered in tattered yellow robes.
In Lovecraft's cycle of horror sonnets, Fungi from Yuggoth, sonnet XXVII "The Elder Pharos" mentions the last Elder One who lives alone talking to chaos via drums: "The Thing, they whisper, wears a silken mask of yellow, whose queer folds appear to hide a face not of this earth...."
In the Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game published by Chaosium, the King In Yellow is an avatar of Hastur who uses his eponymous play to spread insanity among humans. He is described as a hunched figure clad in tattered, yellow rags, who wears a smooth and featureless "Pallid Mask." Removing the mask is a sanity-shattering experience; the King's face is described as "inhuman eyes in a suppurating sea of stubby maggot-like mouths; liquescent flesh, tumorous and gelid, floating and reforming."
Although none of the characters in Chambers' book describe the plot of the play, Kevin Ross fabricated a plot for the play within the Call of Cthulhu mythos. According to Ross' version, the play is set within the fantastical alien city, Yhtill, adjacent to Aldebaran. The plot centers on the members of the city's royal family and their struggle for the throne. Their normal lives are disturbed when they hear of a mysterious stranger who is carried to the city by winged demons (assumed to be byakhee), who openly wears the Yellow Sign and an eerie "Pallid Mask". At the same time, everyone begins seeing a mirage of a city on the other side of the Lake of Hali. The city's upper towers are hidden behind one of the planet's two moons.
The royal family question the stranger, who calls himself the Phantom of Truth, but he only gives cryptic answers and claims to be an emissary of the terrible mythical being known as the King in Yellow, or Last King. At a masked ball honoring the royal family, the Phantom of Truth reveals that his "Pallid Mask" is not a mask, but his true face. Outraged, the queen and high priest torture him to death, but learn nothing in the process. As the Phantom of Truth dies, the King in Yellow arrives from across the Lake of Hali, driving most of the population insane as the mirage-city across the lake vanishes. The King in Yellow informs the royal family that Yhtill has now become the city of Carcosa, under the rule of the King in Yellow. The play ends with the royal family awaiting their imminent doom.

[edit] Other appearances

[edit] Literature

  • Some writers have attempted to write a full text for the fictional The King in Yellow[8], including James Blish ("More Light" [1970]), Lin Carter ("Tatters of the King" [written 1986]), and Thom Ryng [2000].[9]
  • Karl Edward Wagner used it as a motif in his novella The River of Night's Dreaming.
  • Lawrence Watt-Evans adopted the name for the immortal high priest of Death in a series of novels: The Lure of the Basilisk, The Seven Altars of Dusarra, The Sword of Bheleu, and The Book of Silence, collectively known as The Lords of Dûs.
  • "The King in Yellow" is the name of a 1945 short story by Raymond Chandler. It is a crime story, in which the narrator has apparently read Chambers' book, and uses the phrase to describe one of the other characters.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's The Number of the Beast, Zeb Carter mentions the King in Yellow's "world" as one to be avoided.
  • Brian Keene's short story "The King", in: Yellow, recounts the story of a modern-day couple who attend a performance of the play performed by "actors" that strongly resemble deceased singers and musicians such as Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Elvis Presley as "The King". It was first published in Fear of Gravity, and was reprinted in A Walk on the Darkside and The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 16.
  • The King in Yellow makes an appearance in the final volume of Grant Morrison's magnum opus, The Invisibles
  • Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover novels contain references to Aldones, Camilla, Cassilda, Carcosa, the cloud Lake of Hali, Naotalba and Hastur. Though Hali is a city by a lake, the characters and places do not otherwise resemble Chambers' characters.
  • Paul Edwin Zimmer's Dark Border series used a number of the names that feature in The King in Yellow: Hastur, Hali, Carcosa.
  • Robert Silverberg used the exchange between Camilla, Cassilda and the Stranger as the epigraph to his 1967 novel Thorns.
  • The author Stephen King, in his novel, Thinner (written under the pen-name Richard Bachman), includes a reference to the 'King in Yellow' as a "head shop" from which the protagonist's daughter buys an item.
  • Simon Bucher-Jones in the Doctor Who novel The Death Of Art references the play, includes Naotalba's song from it at the start of the book, and the art students from Chambers appear as incidental characters.
  • American writer Cleveland Moffett (1863-1926) wrote two supernatural stories collected in the book The Mysterious Card (1912), which were influenced by the stories in The King in Yellow although they do not refer to any of the names in Chambers' work.[10]

[edit] Film and TV

[edit] Music

  • The song "E.T.I. (Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence)" (1976) by Blue Öyster Cult contains the phrase "King in yellow, Queen in red" in its second verse.
  • British black metal band Anaal Nathrakh have a song called The Yellow King on their 2006 album Eschaton, as well as a quotation from the book in the liner notes.
  • Belgian extreme metal band Ancient Rites have a song Dim Carcosa on the album of the same name whose lyrics are very directly based on "Cassilda's song" from The King in Yellow
  • Breakcore artist Maladroit has a song called "Partytime for the King in yellow" on the compilation "Saucisson De Lyon" (Chase Records, 2007).
  • Toyah's 1982 album The Changeling includes a dark song, The Packt, whose lyrics include the first two quoted couplets of Act I.
  • Finnish black metal band Dawn of Relic's first album is called One Night in Carcosa and their second album (Lovecraftian Dark) contains a song called "Dawn Over Carcosa"

[edit] Other

  • Dungeon Magazine Issue 134 featured an adventure for 9th level characters by Matthew Hope called "And Madness Followed" which featured a bard who performed the play in increasingly larger communities, warping the populace into Far Realm horrors at each.
  • The King in Yellow is the title of an expansion to the Lovecraft-themed Arkham Horror adventure board game, involving a troupe of actors who intend to perform the eponymous play. The King himself does not appear, but if the play is performed to its conclusion it drives the entire population of Arkham insane.
  • Tatters of the King is a Chaosium produced Call of Cthulhu Campaign which features Hastur prominently.
  • Persona 2: Eternal Punishment for Playstation features Hastur as a summonable Persona. The tarot card from which he is summoned is known as the "King in Yellow" card, and is of the Tower arcanum.

[edit] References

  1. ^ Chambers, Robert W., The Yellow Sign and Other Stories, S. T. Joshi, editor; c. 2000, Chaosium, Inc.; p. xiv.
  2. ^ Poe, E.A.,"The Masque of the Red Death" 1850 WORKS, p.344
  3. ^ Schwob, Marcel, Le Roi au masque d'or" (French) in: French Gothic - ed. Les belles lettres - Paris, p. 303-315
  4. ^ Wilde, Oscar, "Salomé", Librairie de l`art indépendant; Elkin Mathews & John Lane. Paris; London, p.7.
  5. ^ Wilde, Oscar, "Salomé", p.1, 3, 9, 16-24.
  6. ^ Joshi & Schultz, “Chambers, Robert William”, An H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia, p. 38.
  7. ^ Pearsall, “Yellow Sign”, The Lovecraft Lexicon, p. 436.
  8. ^ Cf. The Hastur Cycle.
  9. ^ Cf. The King in Yellow (Ryng).
  10. ^ Clute, John and Grant, John. Encyclopedia of Fantasy, Orion, 1997 (p. 177)
  • Joshi, S. T.; David E. Schultz (2001). An H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-31578-7. 
  • Pearsall, Anthony B. (2005). The Lovecraft Lexicon (1st edition ed.). Tempe, AZ: New Falcon Pub. ISBN 1-56184-129-3. 
  • Price, Robert M. (ed.) (October 1993). The Hastur Cycle (1st edition ed.). Oakland, CA: Chaosium. ISBN 1-56882-009-7. 
  • Ryng, Thom (April 2006). The King in Yellow (2nd edition ed.). Seattle, WA: Armitage House. ISBN 1-4116-8576-8. 
  • Watts, Richard; Penelope Love (1990). Fatal Experiments. Oakland, CA: Chaosium. ISBN 0-933635-72-9. 
  • Bleiler, Everett (1948). The Checklist of Fantastic Literature. Chicago: Shasta Publishers. pp. 74. 

[edit] External links


CthulhuWho1 said...

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Happy 120th. Birthday H.P.L.!

Freebies released in celebration of H. P. Lovecraft's 120th. birthday on 20-August-2010, and to stir up excitement for the possible making of the Universal Studios 3D version of "At the Mountains of Madness" by Guillermo del Toro and James Cameron; and as a celebration by Will Hart of the 20th. anniversary of his being at Lovecraft's grave-side on his 100th. birthday.

Released during the last few hours in MP3 Format on:
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Plus, behind the scenes recordings including a live reading by Don Burleson of his darkly funny, "The Last Supper."

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(The image companion site to the http://cthulhuwho1.com audio site.)

All of the above items (and more to come) were created in honor of H. P. Lovecraft; but since he’s not here with us, it’s up to you, and everyone you can share them with to enjoy them!

Will Hart
aka CthulhuWho1
aka California Cthulhu

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