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Literature / The White People

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A horror short story by Arthur Machen.

A couple of youths discuss with a spiritual hermit called Ambrose about a mysterious Green Book. This turns out to be the diary of a young girl, who was instructed by her nurse in the ways of The Fair Folk.

"The White People" provides examples of:

  • Ambiguous Innocence: The girl reacts cheerful and enthusiastically to the dark arts and disturbing circumstances.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Ambrose poses a downright alien view on good and evil, suggesting that true evil is the desecration of natural law. By his standards, a girl's messing with The Fair Folk is more evil than a murderer.
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  • Eldritch Abomination: The Fair Folk are grosser than usual, having slimy serpentine appendages in spite of their more humanoid guises. They are an elder race that long predates mankind and hangs out in the wild places of the world.
  • Eldritch Location: The land of the white people, "Deep Dendo". Its a dim yet completely white place with a swirling sky and monuments depicting horrible things.
  • Evil Mentor: The nurse, who taught a child to perform bizarre and dangerous magic.
  • The Fair Folk: It's right in the title. 'Fair' used to mean 'pale' or 'white'.
  • Harmful to Minors: Teaching the dark arts to a child is one thing. But one of the magical tricks the nurse teaches the girl is to create a clay figurine that she implicitly has sex with. The girl's trip to the land of the white people also includes stones depicting graphic and disturbing acts.
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  • Have a Gay Old Time: No, this is not a story about rednecks.
  • Light Is Not Good: The titular white people are pale and live in a shiny land of silver, but they are evil.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Ambrose considers the girl's fae to be a metaphor for the world's unknown processes.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The white people have almond-shaped red eyes.

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