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The Ghost Stories of M.R. James [Hardcover]

M.R. James , Michael Cox , Rosalind Caldecott
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Dec 1986
Selection of the best of M. R. James's famous stories, with pencil drawings by Rosalind Caldecott.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; New edition edition (Dec 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019212255X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192122551
  • Product Dimensions: 26.2 x 19.2 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,477,562 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars M.R. James 16 July 2003
By snurman
Format:Audio Cassette
What can I say? Possibly the greatest writer of his genre. So modern yet written long ago. A definitive collection of work.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Classic chiller 18 Jan 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a marvellous collection of James' best ghost stories which I've grown to love over the years. When brought together you quickly notice the similar themes running throughout them. The scholarly protagonist, the curious artefact and a relentless evil combine in different iterations of seemingly matter of fact 'documentaries' of terrible hauntings. The power of these stories is as much about what they don't describe as what they do - leaving our own imagination to unhinge us. Perfect for a dark winters evening...
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Spooky ghost stories! 31 May 2009
By J Cattermole VINE VOICE
What a fantastic find this was! Worth every penny, Michael Horden reads Ghost Stories by M.R James - featuring the stories - The Ash Tree, Rats, A School Story, The Haunted Dolls House and The Diary of Mr Poynter. - Across 2 audio cassettes. - They really set the spooky eerie atmosphere. They are deliciously spine-chilling and contain all the necessary mysterious and sinister ingredients and superstition, witchcraft, hauntings, skeletons and violent death. they are told in masterly fashion by Sir Michael Horden - it's a spectral feast of terror and mennace for the connoisseur of ghost stories, of course the belong to the realms of fiction, not of fact, such terrible happenings do not occur in real life...or do they? - Playing time approximately 2 1/4 hours.

Fantastic to listen to in the car, or before you go to bed in your cassette player, they are ideal listening and the right length to listen to in one go, though the cassettes have been long deleted, they are worth every penny if you can get hold of them, i highly recommend them, as a fan of spooky story tapes, this is by far the best and most chilling i have ever come accross, an absolute must have, treat yourself!
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Meet the Master 1 Sep 2000
By "moosifier" - Published on Amazon.com
I think a good ghost story is very hard to write. M.R. James makes it look easy. There are others that lay claim to the title of the Father of ghost stories, J. Sheridan LeFanu and L.P. Hartley to name but two. It is James, however, that will forever hold that title.
His are generally stories that evoke life in the 20 years either side of 1900 romantically. They tend to be stories around Cathedrals or in Scholars houses or in and around Schools where the schoolboy is sometimes included.
The reason why these stories are so good is that James judges and recreates exactly the correct amount of romance in each story that parallels the romantic notion of the ghost in every person's mind.
If I had a complaint, it would be that M.R. James' obvious intelligence (He was a professor at Cambridge University for many years) is a little too much for some. It could just be that the language of the times are different and today some words are no longer in everyday use or the style of speech has changed.
These are very minor concerns, however. The upshot is that M.R. James is and always will be the Master and this complete collection of his works is the perfect collection of ghost stories, never to be improved upon.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good reading for the lover of older supernatural fiction 22 Jan 2010
By Gary Selikow - Published on Amazon.com
Set from around the 1880s to 1early 20th century, these ghost stories are more subtle in the horror and more polished in the scene set, and the detective work involved in solving the mystery.
Many of them were written to be told as Christmas Eve enterntainments read to gatherings of friends.
The horror usually comes at the end and precisely because of the scene set is what makes the stories memorable in their own way.
Set usually in a country or seaside town, or an abbey or old university or library, often in England, but sometimes in Scandinavia or France, the stories usually involve a rather dull, rather naive scholar-gentleman who picks up some item ( a book or painting etc) such as in Canon's Scrap Book, The Mezzotint and Number 13, which awakens angry and malevolent spirits.
Or else the narrator-protagonist tells of a story he has heard from a secondary source in a place where he is staying weather on work or vacation such as Lost Hearts or Martin's Close.
Sometimes the horror of the discovery of the supernatural being is enough to chill the reader, sometimes the spirits involved, as in the Ash-Tree or Lost Hearts result in the death of the victim of their revenge.
An interesting read which requires some concentration not to lose the plot, good reading for the lover of older supernatural fiction.
Always told in a scholarly and carefully descriptive way.
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice Starter Collection 17 Jun 2010
By Michael E. Mitchell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a quite nice hardcover with 15 of M.R.James' supernatural tales; they are most often referred to as "ghost stories", but some of them have creepy elements other than ghosts, as well. If you enjoy older, civilized literature (but by no means "archaic") you will enjoy these tales...I was first steered toward M.R.James by a peculiar fellow named H.P.Lovecraft in his essential "Supernatural Horror In Literature" essay, so that gives one an idea of James' flavour. Quite dry (but not to the point of lifelessness, there is often wry wit or even sentimentality on display) story-telling, with much emphasis on architecture and setting (much like the Master HPL himself). Quite a few out-dated turns of phrase are employed, but nothing completely baffling for the modern reader (in fact, some stories use Latin phrases that are usually actually TRANSLATED for the reader, which is very handy in comparison to those authors who simply assumed we all know Latin). I would say that James is more concise than Lovecraft (but isn't as able to really creep the reader out with such effectiveness), and especially more than Poe. The stories are mostly quite interesting, straying from predictible ghostly formulae, and do produce plenty of shudders and looking-over-of-shoulders. They range from 6 to 18 pages long, with the bulk of these being 10 pages. The stories are selected by Michael Cox (who also provides a rather scholarly THIRTY PAGE intro, complete with some nifty photos). The book features, throughout, nice ethereal sketches and drawings by Rosalind Caldecott. These illustrations are wispy and spectral for the most part, but only a very few actually portray anything supernatural or creepy...mostly buildings and landscapes. They suit the stories well, especially James' penchant for describing settings. But, perhaps here is THE most helpful part of this review, a list of the stories:
1)Canon Alberic's Scrap-Book
2)Lost Hearts
3)The Mezzotint
4)The Ash-Tree
5)Number 13
6)"Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad"
7)The Tractate Middoth
8)The Stalls of Barchester Cathedral
9)Martin's Close
10)Mr. Humphreys and His Inheritance
11)The Residence at Whitminster
12)A Neighbour's Landmark
13)A View From a Hill
14)A Warning to the Curious
15)A Vignette
There are a series of (I believe) 3 books, edited by noted and worthy scholar S.T.Joshi that are purported to include all of James' creepy stories (including "Casting the Runes" which was the basis for the excellent film "Night/Curse of the Demon", which is a good indicator of how James' stories are...if you liked that film, you'll like his stories; if you didn't like the film, you may still like the stories!) The collection reviewed here is a nice taster, and will give you an idea of whether or not to collect all his stories.
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