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M. R. James (1862 - 1936) was a writer and British medieval scholar. His well-known classic ghost stories have a Victorian Christmas theme. Although James is best known for his ghost stories he produced many excellent scholarly works. He is also credited with cataloging libraries at Oxford and Cambridge. Stories in this collection include "The Ash Tree," "Canon Alberic's S M. R. James (1862 - 1936) was a writer and British medieval scholar. His well-known classic ghost stories have a Victorian Christmas theme. Although James is best known for his ghost stories he produced many excellent scholarly works. He is also credited with cataloging libraries at Oxford and Cambridge. Stories in this collection include "The Ash Tree," "Canon Alberic's Scrapbook," "Lost Hearts," "The Mezzotint," "Number 13," "Count Magnus," "'Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad'," and "The Treasure of Abbot Thomas."


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M. R. James (1862 - 1936) was a writer and British medieval scholar. His well-known classic ghost stories have a Victorian Christmas theme. Although James is best known for his ghost stories he produced many excellent scholarly works. He is also credited with cataloging libraries at Oxford and Cambridge. Stories in this collection include "The Ash Tree," "Canon Alberic's S M. R. James (1862 - 1936) was a writer and British medieval scholar. His well-known classic ghost stories have a Victorian Christmas theme. Although James is best known for his ghost stories he produced many excellent scholarly works. He is also credited with cataloging libraries at Oxford and Cambridge. Stories in this collection include "The Ash Tree," "Canon Alberic's Scrapbook," "Lost Hearts," "The Mezzotint," "Number 13," "Count Magnus," "'Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad'," and "The Treasure of Abbot Thomas."

30 review for Ghost Stories of an Antiquary (eBook)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bill Kerwin

    This is M. R. James first book of ghost stories, containing eight of his best. I believe six of these eight are among the twenty best tales of ghostly terror ever written--and the other two tales are very good too. If you like traditional ghost stories that unnerve the reader subtly by suggestion and indirection, this is a book you should read.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Terry

    This volume contains eight tasty little nuggets of supernatural horror that I found very satisfying. In each of them the story is told second or even third hand by a genial narrator whose acquaintances, who are themselves of a decidedly scholarly bent, have been the victims of supernatural intrusion into our world. Often the stories revolve around an ancient artifact able to invoke the otherworldly that is discovered by these particularly luckless individuals (though they often feel themselves l This volume contains eight tasty little nuggets of supernatural horror that I found very satisfying. In each of them the story is told second or even third hand by a genial narrator whose acquaintances, who are themselves of a decidedly scholarly bent, have been the victims of supernatural intrusion into our world. Often the stories revolve around an ancient artifact able to invoke the otherworldly that is discovered by these particularly luckless individuals (though they often feel themselves lucky indeed when they first make their discoveries). The tales are all good, but my favourites were 'Canon Alberic's Scrap-book', 'Lost Hearts', 'The Mezzotint', and 'Count Magnus'. I found myself thinking of both Lovecraft (in James’ use of made-up manuscripts and a reliance on protagonists of a learned bent whose curiosity proves to be their bane) and Clark Ashton-Smith (though with prose that was a little less flowery) though I think James is a much better stylist than the former and a little less given to the more extreme flights of fancy of the latter. 'Canon Alberic's Scrap-book' – An antiquary discovers a scrap-book of ancient manuscripts compiled by the titular Canon Alberic in the 17th century that is in the keeping of the sacristan of a church in France that he is studying. One picture, “The dispute of Solomon with a demon of the night”, proves to be particularly compelling…and why is the sacristan so eager to get rid of a book so obviously of great value? Great evocation of mood and the way in which the supernatural creature manifests itself was suitably creepy. 'Lost Hearts' – A rather moving tale of revenge from beyond the grave and the perils of devoting oneself to the arcane teachings of the ancients in the hopes of gaining eternal life. I knew where this one was going pretty much after the first paragraph, but I heartily enjoyed the ride. 'The Mezzotint' – I really liked the interesting way in which the artifact in question here, the mezzotint of the title, manifested the supernatural and the foreboding sense of a quiet yet unstoppable horror that was the result. 'The Ash-tree' – A nobleman and his descendants find that being the star witness in a witch trial probably isn’t a good idea. Good creepy/gross factor with the creatures invoked for vengeance. 'Number 13' – What happens when you book a room in an inn that used to belong to a man accused of having been an alchemist and magician several generations ago? Nothing good, especially if you rent the room right next to the one in which he mysteriously died. Space and time have a funny way of bending and twisting when the undead get involved. 'Count Magnus' – The titular Count reminded me a bit of Vigo the Carpathian from Ghost Busters 2: he was a mean-spirited son of a bitch who liked to torture people in his spare time and go on fun little trips with names like “the Black Pilgrimage”. Perhaps it’s wisest if you’re a travel writer getting good copy from his native village to leave the crypt where he’s entombed alone. Just sayin’. 'Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad'– Ah skeptics…they always learn their lesson in the end, don’t they? Well, they do in these kind of stories anyway. If you’re kind of a priggish and pedantic professor going on a holiday to sharpen up your golf game (golf is a re-occurring motif in these stories and I don’t think James was a fan) don’t promise to do some investigating of the local Templar preceptory for a colleague, and if you do for God’s sake don’t muck around with anything you find there. If you’re lucky you’ll run into an old military type who doesn’t trust papists. 'The Treasure of Abbot Thomas' – When the Abbot of a 16th century monastery basically dares you, through the enciphered clues he left behind in some striking stained glass windows, to uncover his hidden treasure don’t do it. Trust me on this. I like the way in which James gives us enough of a glimpse of the ghosts and undead horrors he unleashes in his stories to avoid Lovecraft’s almost laughable (to me at least) approach of “oh, it was so horrible I can’t even begin to describe it, just trust me it was really, really, really, mind-crushingly horrible!” and yet was sufficiently vague to leave enough of the horror to the imagination of the reader. The charming, almost homely, voice of the narrator was also a nice contrast to the ultimate invocation of otherworldly menace in the tales. All in all a really solid collection of old-school ghost stories that may not leave you cringing in terror, but you may end up looking over your shoulder from time to time. And you’ll definitely take greater care the next time that weird old manuscript seems to fortuitously land in your lap. Also posted at Shelf Inflicted

  3. 5 out of 5

    Bionic Jean

    Ghost Stories of an Antiquary is the first collection of stories by M. R. James, published in 1904, although some had been previously published in magazines. The next collection from 1922 is often nowadays combined with this volume. Montague Rhodes James was a noted medieval scholar and provost of Kings College, Cambridge. His scholarly work remains highly respected in academic circles. Interestingly one incident in M. R. James's life could have come straight from his stories. His discovery of a Ghost Stories of an Antiquary is the first collection of stories by M. R. James, published in 1904, although some had been previously published in magazines. The next collection from 1922 is often nowadays combined with this volume. Montague Rhodes James was a noted medieval scholar and provost of Kings College, Cambridge. His scholarly work remains highly respected in academic circles. Interestingly one incident in M. R. James's life could have come straight from his stories. His discovery of a manuscript fragment led to excavations in the ruins of the abbey at Bury St Edmunds, West Suffolk, in 1902, in which the graves of several twelfth-century abbots were rediscovered, having been lost since the Dissolution. Nowadays however, he is best remembered for his short stories, which he published as M. R. James. These are classic understated Victorian ghost stories. Many of them were written to be read aloud, as there was a tradition in Victorian families of reading spooky tales aloud on Christmas Eve. Mood and atmosphere are paramount in M. R. James's short stories. His work could be seen as a restrained English version of Edgar Allan Poe. Everything is understated; where there is horror it is rarely explicit. The terror lies in the power of suggestion and forboding. There is often a quiet scholarly person as the main protagonist, and the settings are often rural, or a musty old library or church. This lulls the reader into a false sense of security thereby emphasising the horror of the supernatural forces which are inevitable in an M R James story. The situation is usually quite prosaic to start with, and the author moves very slowly piling on his tension step by step. This collection comprises: "Canon Alberic's Scrap-Book" "Lost Hearts" "The Mezzotint" "The Ash-Tree" "Number 13" "Count Magnus" "'Oh, Whistle and I'll Come to You, My Lad'" "The Treasure of Abbot Thomas" The second collection entitled "More Ghost Stories" comprises: "A School Story" "The Rose Garden" "The Tractate Middoth" "Casting the Runes" "The Stalls of Barchester Cathedral" "Martin's Close" "Mr Humphreys and his Inheritance" Edited: Some stories from Ghost Stories of an Antiquary are reviewed separately. Here are links to my reviews of these: Lost Hearts The Treasure of Abbot Thomas The Tractate Middoth The Stalls of Barchester Cathedral Here are links to my reviews of other stories by M.R. James: A Warning to the Curious and Other Ghost Stories A Warning to the Curious (the individual story)

  4. 5 out of 5

    Forrest

    Mark Fisher, in his erudite examination of horror, The Weird and the Eerie, notes that eeriness is characterized either by “a failure of absence or a failure of presence”. I would posit that M.R. Jame’s arguable opus, Ghost Stories of an Antiquary, is full of textbook examples of each. It would be spoiling the book to note which stories failure absence or presence, but it must be noted that this book could be taken as a master course in the eerie. It must also be noted that Jame’s (intentional?) Mark Fisher, in his erudite examination of horror, The Weird and the Eerie, notes that eeriness is characterized either by “a failure of absence or a failure of presence”. I would posit that M.R. Jame’s arguable opus, Ghost Stories of an Antiquary, is full of textbook examples of each. It would be spoiling the book to note which stories failure absence or presence, but it must be noted that this book could be taken as a master course in the eerie. It must also be noted that Jame’s (intentional?) elimination of summary explanations in (or about) his stories is part of what gives these tales this nearly-mystical feeling. You won’t find stories here that are neatly tied off, for the most part, with a “big reveal” that provides that opium for the masses of readers: closure. No, you will find that many of these stories are unresolved. They end, simply, as matters of observed facts. You might construct an explanation in your own mind of what happened, who did what and why, and what went horribly wrong. But all of these explanations happen, as they do with all good literature, in your head. You will become a participant in these stories. You, like many of the characters therein, will be haunted by the experience. Let’s draw up our salt-circle (or not) and summon the ghosts: "Canon Alberic's Scrap-Book" had to inspire many of Lovecraft's stories. Antiquarian book? Check. Occult rituals? Check. Suspicious-seeming natives? Check. Creepy noises in the dark? Check. "Journal entries" (marginalia, really)? Check. Investigation of strangeness with academic undertones? Check. Freaky creature? Check. Just add tentacles and hyperbole. I liked this a lot more than most of the Lovecraft I've read, but I'm a little burned-out on the Mythos, to say the least. I grow tired of Lovecraft and his imitators. Give me four eerie stars, without tentacles, please! In all seriousness, if someone with a mind like Sandy Peterson’s had picked this story to create an investigative roleplaying game, we might not have Call of Cthulhu now, we might have Call of Canon Alberic! Of course, if you're looking for ghostly roleplaying of the Jamesien variety, look no further than English Eerie. I recommend it. And now, we return from our commercial break . . . "Lost Hearts" is another tale that evokes Lovecr. . . Wait - I see what you did there with the title, James! You sly old dead dog, you. I love this little ghostly/occult tale. I would love to see it rewritten to show what would happen had Mr Abney succeeded . . . that could make another terrifying tale, possibly overshadowing the origi. . . Hmm . . . I've got some paper and a pen. Hmm . . . first let me draw these four stars. I'm never going to get this review done, at this rate. I've read "The Mezzotint" before, and heard a fantastic audio adaption of it on what has become my favorite podcast, of late, and yet, despite all my familiarity, it still does not fail to make on shiver. One of the best "weird" stories written. This one has staying power, with latent images that only partially fade over time. The imagery is burned on the lens of my mind. And my mind created it, prompted by James' words that I read with my eyes, or rather, my mind transformed the words - it is a strange thing to think about. Where do these creations of the mind come from? What makes words form images in my brain? I will meditate upon these five stars and give it more thought. Ew, ew, ew, eeeewwwww!! "The Ash-Tree" = #nopenopenope. Just. No. And not the most effective story thus far, but still better than most other strange stories of a similar ilk. But this story gives me the jibblies for fifteen minutes straight. In all seriousness, this pushes too far into gross territory for me. I'm not about gross or gory. Creepy is not the same as gross. Four slightly disgusted stars. "Number 13" is a great little mystery. Not the strongest story so far, but by no means weak. If you wonder where Mephistopheles took Faust, this might give an indicator. And it's closer than you think. In fact, it might be right next door. The trick is to find the door . . . and avoid it at all costs! Four stars cast the shadow of Danielewski’s House of Leaves. At first, I thought "Count Magnus" was a novella. We need more novellas in the world. Many, many more. I wish the majority of published works were novellas. But I'm a snob that way. Then, after skimming ahead a second and third time, I discovered that "Count Magnus" is NOT a novella: Whomever did layout on this edition (Good Port) done screwed up! After this story, we have "Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad," and "The Treasure of Abbot Thomas". The layout is so screwed up, in fact, that these last two don't even appear in the table of contents. So if layout is your thing, best pick a better port than Good Port. "Count Magnus" is the most evocative story in this collection. By "evocative," I mean that it is . . . well, not subtle, but not "in your face," either. It's more creepy than horrific, and that's the sort of thing that I love. This could easily be a Twilight Zone episode! And, like my favorite TV show (the ORIGINAL Twilight Zone, or OTZ), this story gets five stars. My first note on the next story: "*Sigh* you had to go and blow the whistle, didn't you, Parkins? This is the part where things go horribly, horribly wrong, I suppose." And I supposed right. Important safety tip: If you find something in a grave, don't play with it. Whatever you do , don't touch it to your lips! Yuck! "Sinister" is the best word, I think, to describe the feeling of the story "Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You My Lad". The apparition therein is the scariest of all in this book thus far. I did not sleep well the night I read it, all wrapped up in bed sheets. This story makes innocent bed sheets terrifying. Sleep tight! Five shuddering stars. "The Treasure of Abbot Thomas" is a textbook mystery marbled through with supernatural elements. The narrator's presentation is a well-played shell game of obfuscation and revelation. I would have liked a more consequential ending, but that trick was for later authors. Five stars, despite the flat-ish ending. There is no doubt why this collection gets reprinted again and again (sometimes poorly, as you can see from my review). If there ever was one "classic" single-author collection of ghost stories, this is it. Go. Read. Fear.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly

    GHOST STORIES OF AN ANTIQUARY, contains some of the earlier tales of author M.R. James. This particular selection is available for free download on public domain. I'll admit, I'm a bit biased when it comes to M.R. James' tales--I own his complete works, and have re-read it several times. While this collection doesn't include all of his better known stories, it does give the reader a good sampling of that eerie, creeping horror--usually without all the gore--that James is better known for. These a GHOST STORIES OF AN ANTIQUARY, contains some of the earlier tales of author M.R. James. This particular selection is available for free download on public domain. I'll admit, I'm a bit biased when it comes to M.R. James' tales--I own his complete works, and have re-read it several times. While this collection doesn't include all of his better known stories, it does give the reader a good sampling of that eerie, creeping horror--usually without all the gore--that James is better known for. These are the kind of stories that affect you more, in my humble opinion, and often the ones that you don't forget over time. A great start to some of M.R. James' work. Highly recommended!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Fiona

    There's something to be said for horror that's still creepy after a century passes, and M.R. James provides it by the bucketload in this collection. Part of my attachment must be put down to nostalgia - growing up, the only horror I could usually get my hands on was the kind that came in huge anthologies and tended to the classical (read: old!). The language is very of it's time, but it provides a subtle distance to the whole thing that amplifies it's creepiness; the scares themselves usually bu There's something to be said for horror that's still creepy after a century passes, and M.R. James provides it by the bucketload in this collection. Part of my attachment must be put down to nostalgia - growing up, the only horror I could usually get my hands on was the kind that came in huge anthologies and tended to the classical (read: old!). The language is very of it's time, but it provides a subtle distance to the whole thing that amplifies it's creepiness; the scares themselves usually build slowly and steadily rather than jump out to get you. This collection showed that he's considered a grandfather of horror for a reason. A lot of these stories are going to be lurking in the back of my mind, ready for the next moment I'm alone in the dark, and for me that's the mark of the true master of the genre.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Marie

    For classic ghost stories, these were not too bad, but a few of the stories I didn't know what was happening. I do have three favorites: Lost Hearts, The Ash-Tree, and Number 13. Nothing truly scary within these pages. Giving it three stars.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Char

    Ghost Stories of an Antiquary by M.R. James   A fantastic collection of creepy atmospheric horror tales written back in the day. I felt that these stories lost nothing with the passage of time. In fact, I appreciated the fact that these tales weren't gory at all. I guess I've gotten used to explicit scenes in my horror, and these shorts served to remind me that blood and guts don't necessarily have to play a part. My imagination often supplies something scarier than the author may have intended Ghost Stories of an Antiquary by M.R. James   A fantastic collection of creepy atmospheric horror tales written back in the day. I felt that these stories lost nothing with the passage of time. In fact, I appreciated the fact that these tales weren't gory at all. I guess I've gotten used to explicit scenes in my horror, and these shorts served to remind me that blood and guts don't necessarily have to play a part. My imagination often supplies something scarier than the author may have intended and I like that. I highly recommend this excellent, (free for Kindle), collection.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mike (the Paladin)

    I'd read some of these before and most are excellent. James has an imagination that can draw you in...and then take advantage of your vulnerabilities to things that may or may not go bump in the night. You will as always find reliably creepy stories from James. I can recommend this tome (or is it tomb...mwa-wah-ha-ha if you're looking for ghost/supernatural stories.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Latasha

    I love these ghost stories!!!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lena

    Lost Hearts ★★★★★ “Master's as kind a soul as ever I see! Didn't I never tell you of the little boy as he took in out of the street?” Now that was a maliciously evil bad guy who got a heaping helping of comeuppance! Well done. Count Magnus ★★★★☆ This is the found record of the last days of a man overly curious about a long-dead evil count. It reminded me of people who obsess over Nazis, at some point the interest in more than benign... if you’re an Apt Pupil. Oh, Whistle, And I’ll Come to You, M Lost Hearts ★★★★★ “Master's as kind a soul as ever I see! Didn't I never tell you of the little boy as he took in out of the street?” Now that was a maliciously evil bad guy who got a heaping helping of comeuppance! Well done. Count Magnus ★★★★☆ This is the found record of the last days of a man overly curious about a long-dead evil count. It reminded me of people who obsess over Nazis, at some point the interest in more than benign... if you’re an Apt Pupil. Oh, Whistle, And I’ll Come to You, My Lad ★★★★☆ “All I know is that, if it were mine, I should chuck it straight into the sea.” Never has so much fear been brought about by linen. Is this where the classic bedsheet ghost comes from? Canon Alberic’s Scrap-Book ★★★☆☆ An old French family is eager to sell an ancient illuminated manuscript to a historian for substantially less than it's worth. He will wish he had passed up that deal. The Mezzotint ★★★☆☆ A father whose only son disappears uses his engraving talent to carve out his nightmare. Years later the piece is found to retain a ghost of that filial pain. The Ash-Tree ★★★☆☆ There is a beautiful tradition of planting a tree with a loved ones ashes. Probably best not to to try it with someone magical and evil... and vengeful. Number 13 ★★★☆☆ There’s no room number 13 at the Golden Lion hotel, not formally. But with dark history can come dark magic and somethings don’t want to stay hidden. The Treasure of Abbot Thomas ★★★☆☆ If a treasure map says it comes with a guardian why would you believe that the treasure is real but not the guardian? Average 3.5

  12. 4 out of 5

    Bruce Beckham

    My (positive) review of this book has to begin with two admissions. Firstly, I have no idea how or where I came by it (hardback edition, £14.99 – quite pricey for 8 short stories) and, secondly I’m pretty certain I could not accurately have defined an ‘Antiquary’. On the latter point, Wikipedia tells me it’s the term used for a person who studies history with particular attention to ancient artefacts, archaeological and historic sites, or historic archives and manuscripts. Having read the stories My (positive) review of this book has to begin with two admissions. Firstly, I have no idea how or where I came by it (hardback edition, £14.99 – quite pricey for 8 short stories) and, secondly I’m pretty certain I could not accurately have defined an ‘Antiquary’. On the latter point, Wikipedia tells me it’s the term used for a person who studies history with particular attention to ancient artefacts, archaeological and historic sites, or historic archives and manuscripts. Having read the stories, I can confirm there is perfect congruency between this definition and the title. As for the positive review – well, I thought they were well-constructed ghost stories, heavily laced with suspense. It’s fairly obvious that something gruesome is coming to get you... and sure enough it does! The tales were written around the end of the 19th Century, and tend to refer back to the 1700s. For me, this adds authenticity – somehow anything is believable if it happened before electric lighting and scientific advancement made the world a less spooky place. Ideally you’d read this book by flickering candlelight, stranded in a creaky coaching inn during a power cut, while a great thunderstorm rages through the night. The text can be quite hard going at times. It reminded me of the style of Sir Walter Scott – long words, long sentences. Indeed – judging by the ‘fog index’, a measure of the ease of readability of copy (12 is an ideal score, lower is better; this review is 11) – this book comes out at closer to a whopping 30; quite something to get one’s mincers around. But it does enhance the period effect, and the erudition of the narrator, the Antiquary. The opening story features a blighted manuscript that gets passed from one unfortunate owner to the next; I couldn’t help drawing the parallel with my baffling acquisition of this book. Just how did it get into the reading pile beside my bed? (And anyone fancy a copy?)

  13. 4 out of 5

    G.R.

    Montague Rhodes James (1862 ~ 1936) is the father of the English ghost story. His short stories are, quite simply, the finest traditional supernatural tales ever penned by mortal man. Utterly lacking in gore and in-your-face horror, James' fiction relies on the delicate manipulation of the reader's imagination to create a subtle, uneasy sort of suspense. James has inspired and unsettled countless writers and readers since his tales first came into print, and his popularity and influence remain u Montague Rhodes James (1862 ~ 1936) is the father of the English ghost story. His short stories are, quite simply, the finest traditional supernatural tales ever penned by mortal man. Utterly lacking in gore and in-your-face horror, James' fiction relies on the delicate manipulation of the reader's imagination to create a subtle, uneasy sort of suspense. James has inspired and unsettled countless writers and readers since his tales first came into print, and his popularity and influence remain undiminished. Ghost Stories of an Antiquary was published by Edward Arnold in 1904, bound in brown buckram, with superb illustrations by James McBryde. The first of James' collections of ghost stories, it is also widely considered to be the best. Of the eight stories included in this volume, James wrote in the preface: 'The stories themselves do not make any very exalted claim. If any of them succeed in causing their readers to feel pleasantly uncomfortable when walking along a solitary road at nightfall, or sitting over a dying fire in the small hours, my purpose in writing them will have been attained'. Well, I think it's safe to say that James most certainly did achieve his goal. His stories, predominantly involving scholarly bachelor sorts who go ferreting about amongst old manuscripts or poking around in places that are best left unpoked, are delightfully frightening, humorous, and very convincing. Being a distinguished scholar himself, James knew academia and academics, and he created the most believable of scholarly characters when he put pen to paper. 'Canon Alberic's Scrap-book' is set in the French town of St Bertrand de Comminges, in the spring of 1883. Dennistoun, a Cambridge man, has travelled from Toulouse to see St Bertrand's church, and is shown about the place by the sacristan, a jumpy little fellow who perpetually glances behind himself, as though he is being followed. The old chap offers to take him home and show him something interesting... Canon Alberic de Mauléon's scrap-book. The book, a large folio bound in the seventeenth century, contains about a hundred and fifty pages, and on each one is fastened a leaf from an illuminated manuscript. And the old man is willing, in fact determined, to sell the book for less than it is worth. Of course, Dennistoun's heart is all a flutter, and he snaps the book up quick sharpish. But the canon's scrap-book comes with more attached to it than a bargain price. 'Lost Hearts' is set in 1811 at Aswarby Hall, the home of Mr Abney, a tall, thin and austere bookish recluse, who, according to the Professor of Greek at Cambridge, knows more about later pagan religious beliefs than anyone else. Much to the surprise of his neighbours, Abney has taken in his orphaned cousin, Master Stephen. But Stephen is not the first parentless child to be rescued by the old man, and Abney's actions are not motivated by a generous spirit. In 'The Mezzotint', Mr Williams, who is responsible for enlarging the English topographical drawings and engravings collection of his university's museum, is sent a mezzotint on approval by a London dealer. The picture, a framed view of a manor house, seems unremarkable when it arrives; in fact, Mr Williams turns it over 'with a good deal of contempt'. But, as he soon discovers, the mezzotint is not a mere static image of any typical English country house. Artworks often seem to have a life of their own, but this particular mezzotint does literally have one. Click here to read the rest of the review...

  14. 4 out of 5

    Esdaile

    Most reveiewers here feel that MR James is a master of the genre and I agree. There are certain expectations of a ghost story writer and for many readers these expectations are fulfilled. As in the case of Lovecraft, the stories tend to be disarmingly similar, which is at once a weakness in terms of the religious or philosophical horizon, but has all the strength of a discipline imposed and accepted. Charcateristic of the genre is an inciteement to fear of the inheritance of the past and fear of Most reveiewers here feel that MR James is a master of the genre and I agree. There are certain expectations of a ghost story writer and for many readers these expectations are fulfilled. As in the case of Lovecraft, the stories tend to be disarmingly similar, which is at once a weakness in terms of the religious or philosophical horizon, but has all the strength of a discipline imposed and accepted. Charcateristic of the genre is an inciteement to fear of the inheritance of the past and fear of a possible spirit world living close to us but seldom seen or apprehended. This spirit world embodies (if that is the word!) a bond with the past, our past. This is also the case with the murder mystery genre. In both the murder mystery and the ghost story, the writer works on a titilation of fear or horror, but acknowledges a clear limit to the extent of the horror. Evil remains courteous and confined and generally a stranger to us. Ghosts may droop and be gloomy and dreadful but they should not make us gloomy even if they make us fearful. These books are not intended to depress: quite the contrary. It is worth asking ourselves why not. Do ghost stories not deal with tales of fear, depression, murder and unrest? They do, but the negative or depressive aspect of any ghost story is likely to be counter-balanced, and that is certainly the case in these stories, by a nostalgic appeal. We expect our vampires to be elaborately and aristocratically dressed. We expect, or at least many of us expect, our ghost stories to be located in an old mansion or church, to be deeply rooted in events which have taken place long ago in surroundings themselves so ancient that they were silent witnesses to those past events. In short, these stories appeal to a tradition and where the reader's traditions are dead or dying, such stories can be called nostalgic and will have a nostalgic appeal. For the same reasons that tourists travel in masses to see the architecture of the past and not of today-reasons aethetic for sure but also spiritual, so people hanker after tales which remind them of a world where the past still breathed and where the dead still walked. Filled with anguish and longing together, we will that the dead walk again, that not all graves are silent. The world of these tales may have been troubled and corrupt but there was still life among the ruins. The modern world, without ghosts, is fashioned after the Death Star of "Star Wars", a world with no echoes and with no history. Our modern world is a networked vulgarity, an over-exposure, a world with its share of horror but devoid of ghosts. These ghosts stories are all history, all soul and the spirits who haunt the pages of these tales are the spirits of the past, our past, come to haunt us, whispering, "come back, come back, it is dark and old and cosy here". Today all glitters and is surface only, we fear the lving not the dead and not living people so much as their creations and their demands. The surface of the past was the heavy iron lid over nightmares but also over dreams of longing, the longing for a world, not perfect, not without the eternal combat of good and evil, but a world in which neither evil nor good was ever, ever conceivably vulgar.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Obsidian

    Please note that I gave this 3.5 stars but since Goodreads does not have half stars I rounded up to 4 stars. These are not your typical horror stories. I did like them though. James has a subtle style to his writing and stories. I think that he assumes his readers are going to imagine more things that can be worse than what he will write so a lot of things are left to your imagination in some of the stories. The stories are the following: "Canon Alberic's Scrap-Book"-3 stars. Not very scary. And Please note that I gave this 3.5 stars but since Goodreads does not have half stars I rounded up to 4 stars. These are not your typical horror stories. I did like them though. James has a subtle style to his writing and stories. I think that he assumes his readers are going to imagine more things that can be worse than what he will write so a lot of things are left to your imagination in some of the stories. The stories are the following: "Canon Alberic's Scrap-Book"-3 stars. Not very scary. And I am going to say I did a lot of wait what while reading this one. "Lost Hearts"- 5 stars. I loved this one from beginning to end. So good! Maybe because once you as a reader realize what is going on you want to keep the main character safe (who was a boy at the time of the story). "The Mezzotint"-3 stars. This was honestly pretty boring to me. Not terrible, just not very interesting. "The Ash-tree"-3 stars. I thought it was an interesting idea that fell kind of flat. This one I had to read twice because I found myself skimming too much to get to the punchline. "Number 13"-5 stars. This one was really good and I have to say nothing with 13 in it is ever going to be good news! "Count Magnus"-2.5 stars. Once again, just not very interesting to me and I did find myself skimming this story. "Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad''-3 stars. I don't understand what was going on in this story at all. I think the unknown is supposed to be scary in this one, but to me it seemed easily gotten rid of (the big bad) that I don't know how scared I was supposed ot be by it. "The Treasure of Abbot Thomas"-2.5 stars. Wish that maybe Lost Hearts had been the last one for this collection instead of this one. Once again though I understand what M.R. James was trying to do, I just found it lackluster in execution.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bandit

    Every so often it's good to dip into a classic. Alas, this was the sort of classic that reminded me why it's precisely every so often and not more frequently than that. Widely beloved, widely lauded these are suppose to be among the finest tales of supernatural fiction and yet they didn't do it for me at all. I tried and tried, took several sittings. The book's page count is misleading, it's entered as 94 on GR and 122 on Amazon and yet by my account considering the time spent reading it and the Every so often it's good to dip into a classic. Alas, this was the sort of classic that reminded me why it's precisely every so often and not more frequently than that. Widely beloved, widely lauded these are suppose to be among the finest tales of supernatural fiction and yet they didn't do it for me at all. I tried and tried, took several sittings. The book's page count is misleading, it's entered as 94 on GR and 122 on Amazon and yet by my account considering the time spent reading it and the fact that it comprises parts 1 & 2 of James' stories, also published as separate volumes, this should clock out at well over 200 pages. And feels much slower than that. And the thing is objectively I can tell these are suppose to be good stories, quality writing, atmospheric, imaginative...and yet at no point did I find myself engaged or even particularly interested. In fact I think the main reason I finished these is due to my completist nature and general need to try to understand why I wasn't enjoying these stories the way everyone seems to. Were they dated? Sure, but that wasn't the main detraction. I expected them to be dated. Maybe it was the somnolent pacing. Or the fact that these stories were so utterly unexciting. Either way this really didn't work for me, neither entertained as a book should nor spooked as a genre book ought to. It occurred to me that these tales might be more fun if read aloud, maybe this should have been a listen and not a read. In book form...disappointing. But try I did.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Full review from Badelynge I love a good ghost story. M.R.James is one of the best at the short form of the genre. Ghost Stories of an Antiquary is packed with some of his best. All the stories here were written between 1894 and 1904 and were originally read to the author's friends at Christmas at Kings College, Cambridge where James was a noted British medieval scholar. I'd guess the best way to experience these chilling little stories would be to have them read to you on a dark night, in the de Full review from Badelynge I love a good ghost story. M.R.James is one of the best at the short form of the genre. Ghost Stories of an Antiquary is packed with some of his best. All the stories here were written between 1894 and 1904 and were originally read to the author's friends at Christmas at Kings College, Cambridge where James was a noted British medieval scholar. I'd guess the best way to experience these chilling little stories would be to have them read to you on a dark night, in the depths of winter, perhaps on Christmas Eve itself. It is probably easier to imagine, listening to the words, that the story is being told to you by someone who has heard the story from another, and that such a tale might be true - just for a short time anyway. James usually cleverly distances the storyteller from the actual protagonists who are often of a scholarly type, quite sanguine (at least at first) in their rejection of the supernatural.

  18. 5 out of 5

    DeAnna Knippling

    While I enjoyed the stories here, I didn't find them at all scary or really all that dark. These are tales to be told of a Christmas eve around the first in the UK, and for that, they're probably perfect. That being said, they're perfectly readable and enjoyable if you're in a fireplace/campfire mood. Reading these now, after recently going through a lot of the classics of the modern horror genre, it seems like a lot of modern writers are stealing from MR James but adding their own twists to mak While I enjoyed the stories here, I didn't find them at all scary or really all that dark. These are tales to be told of a Christmas eve around the first in the UK, and for that, they're probably perfect. That being said, they're perfectly readable and enjoyable if you're in a fireplace/campfire mood. Reading these now, after recently going through a lot of the classics of the modern horror genre, it seems like a lot of modern writers are stealing from MR James but adding their own twists to make the stories scary -- deeper characters, more detailed setting -- turning short stories into novels. Liz Hand's Wylding Hall comes to mind. Peter Straub's books after Floating Dragon, maybe. The "quiet horror" books that seem to lean on one last twist at the end. (The books where you're not quite sure what happened seem to go back more to The Turn of the Screw.) I'm really glad I read this, but...honestly, of the earlier horror/ghost stories in the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries, I'm still going to have to admit that I enjoy a few other writers more.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Quirkyreader

    Get ready for the shivers when you read these creepers.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    Classic set of superb ghost stories. From a mysterious figure in a print, to the content of an ashtree, a mysterious room in a hotel up to Count Magnus and a whistle with a very strange quality. The author is extremely talented and crafts out a very enjoyable set of 8 stories (I liked them all). If you have a faible for antiquaries and like a carefully plotted story with a certain amount of horror at the middle you're absolutely right here. The stories are very English by the way. If you like re Classic set of superb ghost stories. From a mysterious figure in a print, to the content of an ashtree, a mysterious room in a hotel up to Count Magnus and a whistle with a very strange quality. The author is extremely talented and crafts out a very enjoyable set of 8 stories (I liked them all). If you have a faible for antiquaries and like a carefully plotted story with a certain amount of horror at the middle you're absolutely right here. The stories are very English by the way. If you like reading Latin (don't worry, there is a translation given) it won't cause no harm. Paradigmatic ghost stories I can highly recommend. This was M.R.James' first colection of short stories and it's a great starter for his works.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tania Donald

    As Leonardo is to painting, so M R James is to the short ghost story. He really is that good. These stories are like beautifully crafted little gems, rich in tiny, exquisite detail, and sparkling with dark beauty. There is an indefinable rare something that marks out the greatest writers of supernatural fiction. H P Lovecraft had it, and M R James had it. It's a kind of mood, an atmosphere, but it's more than that. Effortlessly, these writers draw you into a world where the most strange and terri As Leonardo is to painting, so M R James is to the short ghost story. He really is that good. These stories are like beautifully crafted little gems, rich in tiny, exquisite detail, and sparkling with dark beauty. There is an indefinable rare something that marks out the greatest writers of supernatural fiction. H P Lovecraft had it, and M R James had it. It's a kind of mood, an atmosphere, but it's more than that. Effortlessly, these writers draw you into a world where the most strange and terrible things are entirely plausible; plausible, horrifying and delicious. My words can't do justice to M R James. I can only urge you, if you are someone who enjoys tales of the supernatural, to read any of his stories that you can get your hands on. (There is also a very fine audio-book of this available to download for free at www.librivox.org)

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sean

    This is great collection of 7 classic ghost stories. Most relate to traveling scholars and their ghostly encounters. My only complaint is that many of these stories are very similar. Out of the 7, the story Number 13 is my favorite. This is a nice quick read if you are the mood for a few really good ghost stories.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Graziano

    CANON ALBERIC’S SCRAP-BOOK ‘They were in the sitting-room of the house, a small, high chamber with a stone floor, full of moving shadows cast by a wood-fire that flickered on a great heart.’ (p.13) Canon Alberic’s Scrap-Book was first published in 1904, although it was written in 1894. The story is set in southern France. An English tourist is photographing the interior of the cathedral of Saint-Bernard-de-Comminges at the foot of Pyrenees, when the cathedral’s sacristan tries to sell him a strang CANON ALBERIC’S SCRAP-BOOK ‘They were in the sitting-room of the house, a small, high chamber with a stone floor, full of moving shadows cast by a wood-fire that flickered on a great heart.’ (p.13) Canon Alberic’s Scrap-Book was first published in 1904, although it was written in 1894. The story is set in southern France. An English tourist is photographing the interior of the cathedral of Saint-Bernard-de-Comminges at the foot of Pyrenees, when the cathedral’s sacristan tries to sell him a strange book. The Englishman is impressed by a drawing in the book. After buying it, he returns to his room, and … ‘his attention was caught by an object lying on the red cloth just by his left elbow. … A pen wiper? No, no such thing in the house. A rat? No, too black. A large spider? I trust to goodness not - no. … God! a hand like the hand in that picture!’ (p. 23-4) /////////////// /////////// /////////////////// LOST HEARTS and THE MEZZOTINT ‘it’s a funny thing to me how them marks and scratches can ‘a’ come there - too high up for any cat or dog to have made them, much less a rat … ‘ (p.42) Lost Hearts (1904) by Montague Rhodes James. The orphaned Stephen moves to the house of his uncle Abney. Stephen soon discovers that the house is haunted by two ghostly children: a gypsy boy and an orphaned girl. Stephen also discovers that his uncle is obsessed with the idea of immortality. Is there a connection between the two ghosts and uncle Abney? The Mezzotint (1904) is a classic ghost story. Mr. Williams is employed in a museum, and his attention is to enlarge its collection of English topographical drawings. Mr.Britnell is a publisher of art’s catalogue, he asks Mr. Williams to buy an ‘Interesting mezzotint’. Mr.Williams, although interested, wonders why the mezzotint is so expensive. Watching the mezzotint: ‘- But there’s just one other thing. - What? - Why, one of the windows on the ground floor, left of the door is open. - Is it really so? My goodness! he must have got in.’ (p.69) Ghosts wandering between the yard and the house in a picture, jumping on a window. ////////////// //////////////// ///////////////////// THE ASH-TREE ‘It will be long, I think, before we arrive at a just estimate of the amount of solid reason - if there was any - which lay at the root of the universal fear of witches in old times.’ (p.85) The Ash-Tree (1904) tells of Sir Richard Castringham who has just inherited a house, and an ash-tree. Richard’s ancestors Sir Matthew condemned a woman to death for witchcraft. After that, the house has been cursed, but the real problem is the ash-tree. James writes a ghost story about an ash-tree for many reasons, mainly connected with legends, superstitions, that tells of ash-trees. Upon ash branches witches could fly; venomous animals don’t take shelter under an ash-tree; ash seedpods are used in divination; people don’t cut ash-trees for construction lumber: the houses could catch fire. ////////////////////////////// /////////////////// NUMBER 13 and COUNT MAGNUS and THE TREASURE OF ABBOT THOMAS NUMBER 13 ‘His back was now to the door. In that moment the door opened, and an arm came out and clawed at his shoulder.’ (page 143) Mr. Anderson, narrator’s cousin, went to Denmark engaged upon some researches into the history of Danish church. He stays in an inn where the room number 13 is missing. Returning to his room, Mr. Anderson notices that the door refuses to open, he hears some noises in the room: ‘He had tried the wrong door, of course. … He glanced at the number: it was 13.’ (page 120) Finally, entering in his room number 12, it ‘seemed to have contracted in length …’ (page 121) The landlord confirms to Mr. Anderson that the number 13 room had never existed, but a contract concerning these extraordinary phenomena is discovered: a professor sold himself to ... COUNT MAGNUS Mr. Wraxall wants to write a book about Scandinavia. He learns about an important collection of family papers belonging to the proprietors of an ancient manor-house in Vestergothland. The earliest owner of the manor was Magnus de la Gardie, buried in the church’s mausoleum. Mr. Wraxall becomes interested in Count Magnus, especially because he had been on the Black Pilgrimage and had brought ‘something or someone back with him.’ ‘Just at that instant … I (Mr. Wraxall) felt a blow on my foot. Hastily enough I drew it back, and something fell on the pavement with a clash. It was the third, the last of the three padlocks which had fastened the sarcophagus (Count Magnus’). I stooped to pick it up, and - Heaven is my witness that I am writing only the bare truth - before I had raised myself there was a sound of metal hinges creaking, and I distinctly saw the lid shifting upwards. … I was outside that dreadful building in less time than I can write.’ (page 175) THE TREASURE OF ABBOT THOMAS ‘it’s perfectly safe in the daytime.’ (page 243) The story tells about a hidden treasure of Abbot Thomas. Mr. Somerton is interested in Abbot Thomas’ treasure and discovers that the secret has to be found somewhere in the window. Abbot Thomas himself had placed the window illustrating Job Patriarcha, Johannes Evangelista, and Zacharias Propheta. Mr. Somerton deciphers the meaning of the series of letters written on the window. But there is also a warning: Gare a qui la touche. ‘Then I heard him call softly: All right, sir; and went on pulling out the great bag, in complete darkness. It hung for an instant on the edge of the hole, then slipped forward on to my chest, and put his arms round my neck.’ (page 264) M.R. James’ character are always quiet teachers who become actors in supernatural events. James usually doesn’t tells who is the ghost, and he doesn’t explain the causes of the events. James accompanies the readers by hand towards these irrational phenomenons. It’s worth reading M.R. James for his excellent style and grammar, maybe coming from his Latin’s study (he was a medieval scholar). ‘I found myself at Steinfeld as soon as the resources of civilizations could put me there.’ (pages 254-5) The best story is The Treasure of Abbot Thomas, followed by Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad; The Mezzotint.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Andre Torrejón)

    I never liked horror stories, because I'm a sissy and I get very, VERY scared. And I have nightmares and shit, and I can't sleep alone or with the lights out. But lately, I'm really scared of the world. The politics, the social situation, the environmental state, the growth of extremism and terrorism, the floating certainty of war, injustice, and greed. So suddenly, ghosts, ouija boards, demons, and spectres don't seem so scary. They do make my hair stand on end, but they have become a refuge, a I never liked horror stories, because I'm a sissy and I get very, VERY scared. And I have nightmares and shit, and I can't sleep alone or with the lights out. But lately, I'm really scared of the world. The politics, the social situation, the environmental state, the growth of extremism and terrorism, the floating certainty of war, injustice, and greed. So suddenly, ghosts, ouija boards, demons, and spectres don't seem so scary. They do make my hair stand on end, but they have become a refuge, a fantasy world where the fear is present but less palatable. And this book was an excellent escape. The way M.R James build a story full of ordinary, believable situations to then pour droplets of incredibly powerful visions is absolutely perfect. The horror comes through the senses, not only sight (we are mostly used to that type of horror thanks to Hollywood), but though touch, and smell and taste, and that feeling that someone is staring at you from the corner of your eye. This compilation was supposed to be told, spoken out, not read. So the use of language is so coloquial and well put, you can almost hear the words inside your head, while your brain transforms them into images, and smells, and creaking sounds against your window. A masterpiece. Also, if you are interested in M.R James, I recommend (as it was firstly recommended to me) the documentary "M.R. James Ghost Writer", by the great Marc Gatiss. Excellent combination.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    I was quite honestly surprised by just how much I enjoyed these stories. I am not, generally speaking, a fan of much horror and I felt that these stories may fall into that space. But, a friend recommended, and so I tried. What I loved about these was the suspense and how clear the characters were painted. It wasn't gory and it wasn't really scary. It was just good fiction. These would probably be best read aloud. My favorite of the tales was "Number Thirteen". Three stars solely because it coul I was quite honestly surprised by just how much I enjoyed these stories. I am not, generally speaking, a fan of much horror and I felt that these stories may fall into that space. But, a friend recommended, and so I tried. What I loved about these was the suspense and how clear the characters were painted. It wasn't gory and it wasn't really scary. It was just good fiction. These would probably be best read aloud. My favorite of the tales was "Number Thirteen". Three stars solely because it could be a bit of a slog to get through the language. Even though the stories were pretty engrossing, I felt my mind start to wander which I think was due to the additional processing required for some of the stories. This was not for all of them but definitely for some.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jim Smith

    Mastery. The rest of his collections have one or two stories I'm not so keen on, but here every one is a classic. Essential.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Steph [They/Them] (Wickedjr Reads)

    Avg 3.5 Stuff went over my head and was a bit confusing, because it's old, but I did mostly enjoy what I got. Maybe i'll revisit this at a later date and get more out of it, who knows.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    I've read all these before, but you know what? They're awesome. M.R. deserves to still be read after more than 100 years. And yes, it's very patriarchal and upper-middle-white-English-gentlemen. And I know, there's almost no women characters in his stories, other than the occasional inn-keeper's wife, or the house maid who always refers to the protagonist as "Sir", buuuuttt.... Wait 'til dark, turn off the t.v., light a few candles, open the book, and I challenge you not to look over your sho I've read all these before, but you know what? They're awesome. M.R. deserves to still be read after more than 100 years. And yes, it's very patriarchal and upper-middle-white-English-gentlemen. And I know, there's almost no women characters in his stories, other than the occasional inn-keeper's wife, or the house maid who always refers to the protagonist as "Sir", buuuuttt.... Wait 'til dark, turn off the t.v., light a few candles, open the book, and I challenge you not to look over your shoulder afterward......

  29. 4 out of 5

    Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)

    I first read MR James several years ago, and he still remains my favorite ghost story writer. This volume has a few of his best stories in it. MR James was an antiquarian (studied, translated and catalogued old books, particularly religious texts), so he knew all about dusty books, religious tomes, in particular, and old places with plenty of history and mystery, and that's evident in his stories. Some might not get the narration style, but many of these were invented for telling instead of read I first read MR James several years ago, and he still remains my favorite ghost story writer. This volume has a few of his best stories in it. MR James was an antiquarian (studied, translated and catalogued old books, particularly religious texts), so he knew all about dusty books, religious tomes, in particular, and old places with plenty of history and mystery, and that's evident in his stories. Some might not get the narration style, but many of these were invented for telling instead of reading. He had a circle of friends that would get together on cold winter nights and share ghost stories. I need friends like that. I like the fact that each has a nice build of tension and a dramatic conclusion. Here are my thoughts about the stories in this book: "Canon Alberic's Scrap-Book"--This tells of a man's memory of a beastly creature that he captured in the back of a religious manuscript and that gave me a shudder. "Lost Hearts"--Creepy story about child killer who gets his comeuppance "The Mezzotint"--If a picture could be alive and tell us a story what would it look like? That's what this story is about. It's really chilling to think of, especially when it's showing something quite disturbing. "The Ash-tree"--Yeah, that's pretty icky. Let's face it, insects and arachnids have an inherent creep factor. Combine that with a vengeful spirit in a tree and no sleep for me tonight. "Number 13"--Imagine you stay in a hotel room and hear ungodly sounds from a room next door that doesn't exist, and something doesn't want you to find out if and what happened in that room. Yeah, creepy. "Count Magnus"--I didn't quite get this one, but I felt it was a bit of a vampire story. My second least favorite. "'Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad''"--This was my first story by MR James that I read in an anthology and I was hooked. A ghost is basically stalking the narrator and even comes so far as to share the room with him. The tension in this story is great, right up to a thrilling conclusion. "The Treasure of Abbot Thomas"--My least favorite. I had to make about four attempts to read this. It's just a bit too academic for me. It's about a word puzzle used to find an obscure treasure. The payoff really isn't that satisfying. As I found out with the group read, MR James is not for everyone. He's a bit too fussy and antiquated for some modern readers. However, I love the old guy and I will always look forward to reading his ghost stories. Overall rating: 4.25/5.0 stars.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ben Thurley

    These stories are a delight – finely-crafted ghost stories from the turn of the twentieth century, subversively witty and proceeding to build suspense, menace and even outright horror by insinuation and implication much more than bare narration or depiction. The stories aren't particularly revolutionary, typically beginning with an energetic and atmospheric description of the setting before introducing an urbane and often scholarly narrator who will interact with a relic that provides a doorway t These stories are a delight – finely-crafted ghost stories from the turn of the twentieth century, subversively witty and proceeding to build suspense, menace and even outright horror by insinuation and implication much more than bare narration or depiction. The stories aren't particularly revolutionary, typically beginning with an energetic and atmospheric description of the setting before introducing an urbane and often scholarly narrator who will interact with a relic that provides a doorway to supernatural influences best left undisturbed. However, they are so nicely-wrought, and the narrative voice such a pleasing blend of self-effacement, scepticism and credulity, and the stories do such a great job of stimulating the reader's imagination (without overdoing it), that it's hard not to just lose yourself in them. I've never thought of myself as a fan of the ghost story, but I'm a definite convert to M.R. James.

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