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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 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.
  • 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.
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  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The white people have almond-shaped red eyes.
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