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The Haunted Dolls' House and Other Ghost Stories, Vol. 2 (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 28 Sep 2006


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The Haunted Dolls' House and Other Ghost Stories, Vol. 2  (Penguin Classics) + Count Magnus and Other Ghost Stories: The Complete Ghost Stories of M. R. James v. 1 (Penguin Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (28 Sep 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0146000188
  • ISBN-13: 978-0146000188
  • ASIN: 014303992X
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 1.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 189,818 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Montague Rhodes James (1862–1936) is one of the originators and most influential writers of supernatural fiction. Among his many honors was the Order of Merit, bestowed upon him by King George V in 1930.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Reader on 19 April 2009
Format: Paperback
This is the second volume of Penguin Classics' Complete Ghost Stories of M R James. All of the stories included work as good entertaining ghost stories, and the volume also includes James's essays on the ghost story format, plus his translation of twelve medieval Latin ghost stories. The best of his stories are included in the first volume, "Count Magnus and other ghost stories", so for a good introduction to James, I would recommend the "Count Magnus" volume first. But otherwise, "The Haunted Doll's House" makes a good continuation volume - none of the stories are a disappointment, but also none of them rise to the type of greatness of "Oh Whistle and I'll Come to You My Lad" in the first volume. I'd recommend buying both, and reading them through late into a winter's night!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By downkiddie TOP 500 REVIEWER on 18 Dec 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This volume of ghost stories by the master of the genre, when considered in conjuction with the sister volume Count Magnus and Other Ghost Stories forms the most comprehensive edition of M.R. James' stories that is widely available. Combining the stories from James' last two ghost story books ("A Thin Ghost" and "A Warning to the Curious") along with other more rarely seen stories. These include the semi-autobiographical story "A Vignette" and "The Fenstanton Witch", both of which have the classic M.R. James flavour. That said, these stories like the rest of the tales in this book rarely match the masterful suspense and dread found in the earlier stories collected in "Count Magnus".

The book is presented with twelve medieval ghost stories presented by James in Latin (with translations) and a collection of essays by James, sourced from book introductions and articles. The annotations help the reader with some of the more obscure references and quotations, but do not attempt critical analysis or provide in depth historical information to the settings.

There are lots of different editions of M.R. James's ghost stories available. These Penguin ones do work out among the most expensive considering two volumes are involved, but they are worthwhile for the bonus stories and essays not found in the others, and for the annotations for the interested reader.
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By S. Conway on 7 Nov 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
First of all let me state that the star rating is nothing to do with the book itself, which is brilliant. The two stars are because I'm beginning to think I was sent a print-on-demand copy without being told (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-27994314 / http://www.amazon.co.uk/b?ie=UTF8&node=4780051031).

The inner text isn't too bad (though not as clear as the second copy I bought direct from Penguin) but the cover is awful: the lettering is blurry and Penguin's black colouring is a washed-out grey

I bought it about a year ago but until I read the story on the BBC I knew nothing about it. I could be wrong and maybe it was just a faulty copy but I don't think I'll be buying new books from Amazon until it's made clearer whether you're buying a properly printed book or not. (I found reviews of one book - from amazon.com admittedly - warning buyers of the poor print-on-demand quality: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Classic-Crews-Harry-Reader/dp/0671865277/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1415341536&sr=1-1&keywords=classic+crews+harry+crews)
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A further volume of superb ghost stories , all the more interesting for the "extras" near the end of the book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 7 reviews
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
The greatest ghost stories ever written 30 May 2009
By Robert Moore - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
For several years when she was growing up my daughter and I made a habit of from time to time gathering all the candles we can muster, lighting them, turn off the electrical lights and reading one of the stories in this collection.

What Conan Doyle is to the detective story, James is to the ghost story. These are not horror stories. No gore is to be found, no monsters, no savagery. One can find a subtle horror, a persistent sense that there are things in this world that we have either forgotten or never discovered.

If one has ever engaged in any historical research on the occult (which I have undertaken as an extreme nonbeliever), one will come across several ancient books and manuscripts in the field that were edited by M. R. James. He was not merely the writer of perfect ghost stories; he was an authority in the field of occult beliefs and practices. This concrete grounding accounts for much of the realistic feel to the researches of many of the characters in his stories.
35 of 45 people found the following review helpful
S.T. Joshi Slumming Herein 25 Aug 2009
By Severian - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The stories of Mr. James are above reproach; unique in English literature for being subtle and creepy at the same time and shaped by James' knowledge of medieval history, English history, and the occult. The question for the reader is whether they want to pony up $20 for the Penguin annotated editions of James' tales, as the James repertoire is in the public domain and you could read many of these stories for free on the internet and / or get a $6 copy of the "Collected Ghost Stories" from Wordsworth Press and get 30 out of 33 of the stories featured in the two combined Penguin volumes. So the question then is are Joshi's notes and intros worth about $14?

S.T. Joshi is an immensely gifted editor and critic. His studies of the "Weird Tale" are modern classics in the field, and the immense work he has put into his Lovecraft bio and his annotated Lovecraft volumes are a paradigm. There is no doubt that if Mr. Joshi put the full focus of his attention on working with James' material that he could have easily justified the purchase price for these books. Unfortunately, Joshi, for whatever reasons, just went through the motions here and produced a fairly pedestrian work of annotation and criticism to accompany the text.

Joshi's annotated Lovecraft or annotated Blackwood (also available from Penguin) are superb works of annotation - each story has copious notes explaining themes and background of the work at hand. In approaching James though, Joshi appears dutiful at best or even bored. Many tales here have less than half a dozen bland notes, and many of the notes are nothing more than scutwork, translations and nutshell bios of historical figure mentioned.

This would be fine if James needed no annotation. (But then why buy these books at all?) The true issue is that James' work would indeed benefit from some first grade notes. For instance "The Stalls of Barchester Cathedral" is a story involving an ambitious clergyman who schemes to murder his inconvenient predecessor who is holding him from a promotion. The career of the sinister cleric has many subtle details that point up James' low opinion of him based on his theology and clerical administration policies.

For a modern reader who is not fully aware of Episcopalian intra-denominational quarrels in the late 19th Century, knowing this info will add a new level of depth and interest to the story. Instead, Joshi tells us none of this and simply translates a few Latin phrases and fleshes out a few Biblical citations, something the ordinary reader with internet access could do on their own with a $6 copy of the stories. In comparison, Joshi's notes in his annotated Lovecraft for "Herbert West Reanimator" (one of the slightest and most pulpy of fictions in the HPL body of work) are far more detailed, engaging, and affectionate.

Now you might say "well who cares about Episcopalian church governance squabbles of the 19th Century?" and indeed the Barchester story works very well even if the reader knows none of the "extrinsic" detail. But yet the entire point of an annotated edition is to add maximum depth and detail to a story for those interested in pursuing such a level of analysis. To provide a minimalist annotation defeats the entire purpose of the endeavor, as the reader may be better served by dispensing with the slight commentary offered and simply reading the work in question cheaply or for free while doing their own cursory research as needed for historical figures, translations, etc.

The problem may be that Joshi is well-known for his postulate that a Christian perspective is incompatible with effective horror writing. Joshi is a rather strident atheist and feels that atheism and similar godless perspective make for the most creative and interesting horror. I see his point, but yet the existence of effective horror by pious men like Hawthorne and Montague Rhodes James acts as a counterpoint to Joshi's thesis. This is not to say that Joshi sets out to sabotage James with lame notes - rather it perhaps shows why Joshi viewed this particular exercise as a bore and a task rather than a pleasure.

I do not wish to psychoanalyze the editor too much; my theory above may be entirely wrong. However, the heart of the matter is that if we compare Joshi's notes and analyses with James to that on the stories of the pantheistic Blackwood, the existensialist Lovecraft, or the atheist Ligotti, we see that he has done a much better job than here. Maybe this is due to the fact that he finds these others more personally simpatico, or perhaps he simply finds detailed textual analysis of James to be uninteresting.

In any case, the ultimate answer to the question of whether a reader should purchase these two volumes of James' ghost stories is probably not. The much cheaper Wordsworth edition (though less aesthetically pleasing) will offer all the pleasures of the original text (or 90% of them anyway), the somewhat cheaper Oxford World Classics Edition though offering only 20 or so tales has a far better intro and notes by Michael Cox, and for the ultimate discount, most of these tales are in the public domain and can be tracked down and read for free over the internet. Joshi, though ordinarily adding enough value to an annotated edition to justify a higher price, has fallen down on the job here and given us a bare-bones minimal effort annotation effort.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Great Victorian Ghost Stories 9 Jan 2007
By L. Cameron-Singer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
If you like the style of Victorian ghost stories, in the best English tradition, you'll greatly enjoy this collection of stories by M.R. James, and it's companion volume, Vol. 1. In most of the stories the horror is oblique, but present and able to deliver delicious shivers on dark stormy nights (or on bright, sunny afternoons, for that matter). If you like Arthur Conan Doyle's ghost stories, you'll definitely enjoy this collection.
M.R. James -- an appreciation 3 Dec 2013
By Jose Vidal - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is an indisputable fact that M. R. James is THE 20th century's greatest master of the ghost story--he is in fact peerless.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
M. R. James 13 May 2013
By Serenade - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Remembered from required reading in college, still as enjoyable, gives the reader a taste of "real quality" composition. Very few authors today can match the educational mastery of writing and hold the imagaination of the reader with perfect clarity.
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