- Hardcover: 600 pages
- Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books (26 April 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0857388045
- ISBN-13: 978-0857388049
- Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 5.6 x 24 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 523,725 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Curious Warnings: The Great Ghost Stories of M.R. James Hardcover – 26 Apr 2012
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'It's about time such an important and entertaining body of work was given the care and attention it deserves' SFF World. (SFF World)
'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. (Ruth Rendell)
An illustrated collector's edition to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of the Father of the modern ghost story.See all Product description
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
To cap it all, as has been pointed out by other reviewers, the editor, Stephen Jones has the temerity to mess around with the author's punctuation and sentence structure - see other reviews below for examples of Jones' incompetent, bungling interference in this respect.
As Jones points out, if one wants the original texts, then there are plenty other editions that contain them. It's just a pity that one wasn't warned before purchasing this edition.
James deserved something better than this as an anniversary edition. The publisher should be haunted by James' ghost.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Produced in 2012 to coincide with the 150th anniversary of M. R. James’ birth, this collection is edited by horror editor extraordinaire Stephen Jones, and includes just about... Read morePublished 13 months ago by The Flange that is Brian
A wonderful, definitive edition of James' ghost stories, including those less anthologized ones. Own this edition and you shouldn't need any other editions of the great man's... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Count Magnus
By far the most satisfying collection available. The illustrations, which perfectly capture the tone of the stories, are worth the price alone.Published on 10 May 2014 by Miskatonic
This anthology is full of classic ghost stories, but I haven't read it yet. I have so many books to read and not enough time. Read morePublished on 25 Aug. 2013 by Carly Nicholas
M R James is the king of ghost writers his stories are always disturbing and unsettling and no matter how many times I read them they are always new and fresh I would recommend... Read morePublished on 30 May 2013 by Corvus Corax
The best Ghost writer there is, as his tales always have a twist in them and keep you on the edge of your seat.Published on 27 Feb. 2013 by J. Marsh
The book itself is beautifully bound and the Black & white illustrations add an eerie tone - The content itself goes without saying - M. Read morePublished on 8 Jan. 2013 by Persona