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Old 12-24-2016   #11
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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

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

Did you see any of the newer BBC adaptations?

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Old 12-24-2016   #13
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Re: MR James: Pioneer of the Modern Ghost Story

I have a few favorites, but I think the most beautifully written is "A View from a Hill". It also has an original and bizarre necromantic artifact at its core. Very appealing and creepy.
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Old 12-24-2016   #14
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Re: MR James: Pioneer of the Modern Ghost Story

Quote Originally Posted by Robert Adam Gilmour View Post
Did you see any of the newer BBC adaptations?
Yeah. A View from a Hill is strong, Number 13 removes almost everything frightening about the original story, the John Hurt version of O' Whistle and I'll Come to You has a poor shouty ending, and Mark Gatiss' The Tractate Middoth is actually really rather pleasant. Wish he'd make more.

In general, despite a few duds, I rate the BBC Christmas ghost story run very highly. Only a handful of theatrical horror movies top the best ones. I hate that there are no plans for more. Considering that Lovecraft adaptations range from unwatchable to mediocre (that Whisperer in Darkness film is insanely overpraised), M. R. James has come out of this all quite well. The Jonathan Miller Whistle and I'll Come to You film, the 70s Larry Gordon Clark adaptations and of course the 50s film Night of the Demon are acknowledged classics.

'I believe in what the Germans term Ehrfurcht: reverence for things one cannot understand.'
― Robert Aickman, An Essay
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Old 12-24-2016   #15
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Re: MR James: Pioneer of the Modern Ghost Story

I remember there being a few newer BBC gothic and ghostly things.

I seen a bit of this
Quote
The Wyvern Mystery is a 2000 BBC film starring Naomi Watts and Derek Jacobi. The film is based on Sheridan Le Fanu's novel.
I think there was a Jean Rhys adaptation that was kind of gothic and also Northanger Abbey around this time.

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Old 12-24-2016   #16
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Re: MR James: Pioneer of the Modern Ghost Story

I have been meaning to check this out:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Li...ead_(TV_series)

The British horror community I'm a part of rated it highly, but I lost faith in them when they declared NuHammer's film Wake Wood a masterpiece. I was enjoying it before the disastrous final act, too.

'I believe in what the Germans term Ehrfurcht: reverence for things one cannot understand.'
― Robert Aickman, An Essay
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Old 12-25-2016   #17
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Re: MR James: Pioneer of the Modern Ghost Story

Quote Originally Posted by James View Post
... The Jonathan Miller Whistle and I'll Come to You film, ...
Thank you for mentioning this. I just now watched it. Someone in the commentary field below the video complained of the "bad acting", ... Ha ha ha! ... What are some people thinking??? This is some of the best acting I have ever seen! And the best character study ever of intellectual conceit.

I am generally not enthusiastic over film adaptions of great horror and ghost stories, but this one was wonderful.

I admit initial prejudice toward "Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad" (having seen an unsatisfactory book cover illustration), tainting my read, finding the idea silly of a ghost using a bed sheet to physically shape itself.
Actually, I do have certain belief in ghosts and supernatural manifestations, but don't think they manipulate actual objects. I believe they can show themselves through physical objects, but it is from such an indirect angle, inserting themselves into natural causes, that the rational minded will explain it away as being mere coincidence.
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Old 12-25-2016   #18
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Re: MR James: Pioneer of the Modern Ghost Story

Quote Originally Posted by Knygathin View Post
Quote Originally Posted by James View Post
... The Jonathan Miller Whistle and I'll Come to You film, ...
Thank you for mentioning this. I just now watched it. Someone in the commentary field below the video complained of the "bad acting", ... Ha ha ha! ... What are some people thinking??? This is some of the best acting I have ever seen! And the best character study ever of intellectual conceit.

I am generally not enthusiastic over film adaptions of great horror and ghost stories, but this one was wonderful.
I thought the acting was fantastic as well. I loved the fact that he always seemed to be talking to himself as if uninterested in those around him.

"In a less scientific age, he would have been a devil-worshipper, a partaker in the abominations of the Black Mass; or would have given himself to the study and practice of sorcery. His was a religious soul that had failed to find good in the scheme of things; and lacking it, was impelled to make of evil itself an object of secret reverence."

~ Clark Ashton Smith, "The Devotee of Evil"
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Old 12-26-2016   #19
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Re: MR James: Pioneer of the Modern Ghost Story

Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Veech View Post
Quote Originally Posted by Knygathin View Post
Quote Originally Posted by James View Post
... The Jonathan Miller Whistle and I'll Come to You film, ...
I thought the acting was fantastic as well. I loved the fact that he always seemed to be talking to himself as if uninterested in those around him.
Exactly. And he acted it splendidly, thinking himself brilliant and everyone else an idiot - but still ending up with the thumb in his mouth. A very lonely and tragic portrait.
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Old 06-15-2017   #20
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Re: MR James: Pioneer of the Modern Ghost Story

I feel M. R. James, E. F. Benson and Lafcadio Hearn were the masters of the classic ghost story, and the modern ghost story pioneers were authors such as Henry James, Oliver Onions, Walter de la Mare, Elizabeth Jane Howard and the master of all masters Robert Aickman – the great manifesto of the modern ghost story being Aickman/Howard's We Are for the Dark.

Matters are of course clouded in that Poe (Ligeia)and Le Fanu (Green Tea) wrote stories fitting this modern mould previously, but no system is perfect. I think there is in general a distinction to be made between ghost stories as folklore and ghost stories as more character driven and psychological tales. Both approaches are of course equally valid as artistry goes.

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