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Curious Warnings: The Great Ghost Stories of M.R. James [Hardcover]

M.R. James , Stephen Jones , Les Edwards
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
RRP: 30.00
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Book Description

26 April 2012

Montague Rhodes James - M. R. James - was an English academic and provost of King's College and Eton. He started writing ghost stories to entertain his friends... one hundred and fifty years after his birth he is now revered as the father of the modern English ghost story.

This gorgeous hardback collection contains all thirty-five of M.R. James's highly acclaimed ghost stories, including the classics: 'Oh Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad' and 'Canon Alberic's Scrapbook'. As well as a foreword by Clark Ashton Smith and an extended Afterword by Stephen Jones the book is gloriously illustrated by award-winning artist Les Edwards, who has provided a frontispiece and a dozen full-page illustrations, as well as many small pictures throughout the text.

Like Gollancz's Black Books (Necronomicon and Conan), this is a wonderful book that should be part of every reader's personal library.


Frequently Bought Together

Curious Warnings: The Great Ghost Stories of M.R. James + Necronomicon: The Best Weird Tales of H.P. Lovecraft: The Best Weird Fiction of H.P. Lovecraft (GOLLANCZ S.F.)
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 600 pages
  • Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books (26 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857388045
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857388049
  • Product Dimensions: 23.8 x 15.6 x 5.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 246,335 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'There are some authors one wishes one had never read so that one might have the joy of reading them for the first time. For me, M.R. James is one of these' Ruth Rendell.

'It's about time such an important and entertaining body of work was given the care and attention it deserves' SFF World.

About the Author

Montague Rhodes James, OM, MA (August 1862-June 1936) published as M.R. James, was an English mediaeval scholar, provost first of King's College, Cambridge, then of Eton College. He is best remembered for his ghost stories, which are widely acknowledged as the finest in English literature.

Stephen Jones edited and provided the Afterwords for Necronomicon and Eldritch Tales by H.P. Lovecraft, and Robert E. Howard's The Complete Conan and Conan's Brethren. He is Britain's premier anthologist of horror and dark fantasy. He lives in London. His website can be found at www.stephenjoneseditor.com.


Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nicely produced 4 Oct 2012
By downkiddie TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This impressive, weighty and nicely produced volume collects all of M.R. James's ghost stories, including obscure and unfinished ones. The quality of M.R. James's ghost story writing is well known and extends to many of the rarer and lesser-known stories included here but not in most of the other collections.

As my fellow reviewer points out, some of the stories have been amended punctuation-wise. The editor Stephen Jones argues this is to appeal more to modern readers by removing some of the more long-winded and antiquarian sentence constructions. Whilst I take his point I'm not sure I agree; this isn't Chaucer, it was written in the 20th century and it's hardly difficult to follow. Nevertheless, Jones has produced a very impressive collection.

Another minor niggle is the use of italics and a typewriter-style font for the elements of the stories where quotations and excerpts are used, which is not an improvement as it's simply not as comfortable to read them. That said, the book as a whole is beautifully produced and a joy to read, and illustrated here and there with wonderfully atmospheric illustrations.

As one would expect all the stories from the various editions of the collected Ghost Stories are here, together with the novella "The Five Jars" and the fragments that never became full stories. Some of these, such as "John Humphreys" and "Marcilly-le-Hayer" are as atmospheric and chilling as the better known greats. Unfortunately some of them have bits missing, and no attempt has been made to fill in the gaps or reconstruct what might be. That said, nobody would agree on what these should be so it's probably for the best.

Jones presents an impressive postscript in the form of publication and dramatisation history of all things Jamesian.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What Would MRJ Say? 26 July 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a handsomely bound (leather?) book containing all the ghost stories by the master of the form, including rarities and extra material on tv adaptations etc. But, as editor Jones admits, he will tick off a lot of purists with his re-punctuating these classics for a modern audience. Nothing's cut, but changing antique phrasing like "to-day" into "today" detracts from the flavour of the language. And rendering one tale almost entirely in italics, however justified in context, makes it a pain to read. Classic material, handsome book, big mistake.
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2.0 out of 5 stars A Warning to the Curious Reader - Caveat Emptor! 20 Mar 2014
Format:Hardcover
What a pity, when the Afterword is valuable and the fragmentary stories so rarely found, that the editor Stephen Jones has taken it upon himself to muck around with James's punctuation to make him more "accessible" - on the grounds that the original author was "not much of a stylist". Hmm.

Perhaps it had not occurred to him that many of us read these stories for the style as much as the substance. Mr Jones claims that he has not cut a word or altered the meaning. In the event, he often obscures James's meaning without clarifying it in the slightest. Sometimes he does worse. Here is just one, rather shocking example.

The original first paragraph of "Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad" reads:
'I suppose you will be getting away pretty soon, now Full Term is over, Professor,' said a person not in the story to the Professor of Ontography, soon after they had sat down next to each other at a feast in the hospitable hall of St James's College.'

Here is the "accessible" Jones version, which adds a full stop after 'now':
'I suppose you will be getting away pretty soon, now. Full term is over, Professor," said a person not in the story to the Professor of Ontography, soon after they had sat down next to each other at a feast in the hospitable hall of St. James's College.'

This introduces the baffling impression that the Professor needs to be told, rhetorically, that "Full term is over," rather in the manner of a bad Hollywood script. The extra punctuation turns James's elegant first sentence into bad writing. It destroys the rhythm and ruins the sense.

Such examples abound on nearly every page.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful 27 Feb 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The best Ghost writer there is, as his tales always have a twist in them and keep you on the edge of your seat.
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