Archive | January 9, 2008

Chambers Film in the Works?

I see that this website lists The Repairer of Reputations as an upcoming film, but gives no further information.

The King in YellowThe Repairer of Reputations” is a short story by Robert W. Chambers, written in 1895 but set in 1920; it also serves as the first chapter of Chambers’ The King in Yellow, a collection of inter-related fantasy stories that exercised an important influence on H. P. Lovecraft.

“Repairer” takes place in a future in which something vaguely resembling World War I has occurred and the American progressive movement has achieved political ascendancy under a President Winthrop, who has introduced a comprehensive program of centralised bureacucracy, aggressive nationalism, extensive public works and urban renewal projects (with an emphasis on neoclassical marble edifices), a nationalised police force, severe racial cleansing laws (including “the exclusion of foreign-born Jews as a measure of self-preservation”), and tax-funded euthanasia chambers in every town (to encourage the unhealthy and maladjusted to relieve the community of their presence).

The Wikipedia page for the story says that these features of the projected future society reflect “the author’s xenophobic tendencies.” I wonder what the basis for this latter bit of speculation is. For all I know Chambers did have xenophobic tendencies, but I don’t think this story by itself is evidence of them. Are the wikipedists assuming that Chambers approves of the society he depicts? Admittedly the narrator obviously approves of it – but the narrator is also pretty clearly intended to be recognised as unreliable, and in fact insane. It seems at least as likely to me that Chambers is satirising the proto-fascist political tendencies of his day. But I await correction from those who have read more of Chambers’ other works than I have.

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