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Old 12-21-2016   #1
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MR James: Pioneer of the Modern Ghost Story


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Old 12-23-2016   #2
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Re: MR James: Pioneer of the Modern Ghost Story

I'm still picking my way through his tales, but so far my favorite is probably "A School Story". I'm a sucker for oppressive boarding school settings, and the buildup to the climactic ghost was superb.

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Old 12-23-2016   #3
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Re: MR James: Pioneer of the Modern Ghost Story

Quite an idiosyncratic choice, but you're in good company. It is the one tale of James' Aickman selected for his Fontana series of ghost anthologies. I also enjoy it, but of his tales aimed at children I prefer the bleaker and drolly amusing Wailing Well.

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Old 12-24-2016   #4
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Re: MR James: Pioneer of the Modern Ghost Story

"Count Magus" was also an exceptional tale. On second thought that may be my favorites instead.

I think one of the more interesting aspects of James' fiction is the academic rigor he puts into crafting the atmosphere. I don't think it always works, as occasionally the tension gets botched by this.

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Old 12-24-2016   #5
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Re: MR James: Pioneer of the Modern Ghost Story

If you like M.R. James you would probably enjoy this book:

Peter Haining Vault Of Evil

The book I have is The M.R. James Book of Ghost Stories edited by Peter Haining, with the same table of contents listed here. I think this is the U.K. title. Not sure. I have the pb too. The hardback is better because half of the book is illustrations and the hb is considerably larger.
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Old 12-24-2016   #6
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Re: MR James: Pioneer of the Modern Ghost Story

Have any of you read James' biblical scholarship?

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Old 12-24-2016   #7
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Re: MR James: Pioneer of the Modern Ghost Story

Count Magnus is my favourite by him, but I have to read more
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Old 12-24-2016   #8
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Re: MR James: Pioneer of the Modern Ghost Story

Quote Originally Posted by Nirvana In Karma View Post
I'm still picking my way through his tales, but so far my favorite is probably "A School Story". I'm a sucker for oppressive boarding school settings, and the buildup to the climactic ghost was superb.
It might interest you to know that "A School Story" is one of David Tibet's favorite MR James tales as well: it's even one of the 3 James stories that appears in his excellent anthology The Moons at Your Door (the other 2 being "Casting the Runes" and "Oh, Whistle, And I'll Come To You, My Lad").

I read two of James' collections back in the summer of 2010 (Ghost Stories of an Antiquary and its sequel), but have yet to read his 3rd or 4th collections. Of the stories of his that I have read, I would probably say that "The Mezzotint" is my favorite.

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Old 12-24-2016   #9
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Re: MR James: Pioneer of the Modern Ghost Story

"Canon Alberic's Scrap-book," "Count Magnus" and "Casting the Runes" are my favorite James tales.
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Old 12-24-2016   #10
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Re: MR James: Pioneer of the Modern Ghost Story



An M. R. James story or BBC adaptation is a mandatory Christmas custom. I associate Christmas Eve more with him than I do Dickens at this point.

The only non-fiction of his I have read are his essays on ghost stories, which were superb. I assumed his scholarly work would be a bit hard going.

'I believe in what the Germans term Ehrfurcht: reverence for things one cannot understand.'
― Robert Aickman, An Essay

Last edited by James; 12-24-2016 at 07:50 PM..
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