17 February 2014

The King in Yellow on True Detective

I haven't been watching the HBO series True Detective (indeed, I did not even know of its existence, as I don't subscribe to HBO), so it required a friend of mine to bring to my attention -- by means of this article -- that there are some quite clear references to Robert W. Chambers' The King in Yellow in it.

As most fans of the fiction of H. P. Lovecraft are aware, Chambers' stories concerning The King in Yellow had a great influence on Lovecraft's own work.  Indeed, the mythical play, the world of 'Carcosa', the 'Yellow Sign', and several other elements from Chambers' work, were added to the 'Cthulhu Mythos' by Lovecraft.

(I've read Chambers' stories, "The Repairer of Reputations," and "The Yellow Sign," both of which are included in The Hastur Cycle anthology from Chaosium.   I recommend that collection to any fan of the Cthulhu Mythos, as it brings together some fine stories by a diverse range of authors.)

Well, I must confess that my interest has been piqued.  I may have to watch this series once it's available on DVD (despite one of its stars being … Matthew McConaughey).

12 comments:

  1. It is a fantastic series with a great mystery. The Carcosa and King in Yellow elements are backdrop to larger murder mystery. And Matthew McConaughey gives a stellar performance. Easily his best role.

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    1. Thanks Timothy. It sounds great. (And perhaps I was too negative about McConaughey...)

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  2. I should clarify that Chambers got 'Carcosa' from Ambrose Bierce ("An Inhabitant of Carcosa").

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  3. I don't think you'll be disappointed. The writing and acting is excellent. The sense of mystery and foreboding is intense. The references of the cult to oddities we're familiar with are like blood in the water.

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  4. IT's also FILLED with the work of Thomas Ligotti—one of the main characters actively espouses the horrific antinatalist sentiments of The Conspiracy Against the Human Race. The show is exceptional.

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    1. I think I need to read some Ligotti. Any recommendations of what to start with?

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  5. It's probably out of print now, I didn't check online, but I've had a book of Ligotti's stories for a while now called "The Nightmare Factory." It's sort of a "best of" with a selection of his word. Definitely awesomely weird! I would also recommend looking up a recent anthology called "The Weird." I borrowed it recently from the library, a weighty tome with stories from not only Ligotti but other authors, and has an intro by Michael Moorcock.

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    1. Thanks for the suggestions, Anthony!

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  6. P.S. True Detective is GREAT! McConaughey is wonderfully nihilistic in his portrayal! He can conjure up this "thousand league stare" that is just haunting...and how he delivers the lines, you can feel the suck of the abyss on your soul.

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  7. Another article on this series: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/television/decoding-the-secrets-of-true-detective/article16982428/

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  8. I'm late to the plate on this one but I just wanted to chime in and add one more endorsement for the show.
    I went into it blind, based on a friend's endorsement that mentioned nothing about the connections to Ligotti, Chambers, Lovecraft... but I was in love from moment the credits started, since they used one of my favorite Handsome Family songs as the theme.
    And then to hear one of the main characters channeling Ligotti's dark philosophy... boy howdy! I've been in a heaven of nihilistic horror all the way through.

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  9. ehrr... on second thought... hmmm... the ending (just watched) knocked it down several notches for me. A bit of bait and switch I think.

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I'm a Canadian political philosopher who divides his time between Milwaukee and Toronto.