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Collected Ghost Stories Hardcover – December 1, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (December 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199568847
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199568840
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 5.8 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #968,123 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

first-rate introduction Ferdinand Mount, London Review of Books Atmospheric, spare and dangerous: these are classics of a master. Daily Echo The definitive edition of James's stories... a treasure trove for every horror lover. Politico For those who like their flesh to creep, there is an inimitable cumulative pleasure in reading these stories Daily Telegraph This collection is perfect both for longstanding M R James fans or those new to his chilling tales. The Oldie An outstanding new edition... exemplary. Boyd Tonkin, The Independent

About the Author


Darryl Jones's other publications include Horror: A Thematic History in Fiction and Film (London: Arnold; New York: OUP, 2002).

Customer Reviews

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See all 17 customer reviews
This was my summer reading but would be even better suited to rainy winter nights.
Gareth Davies-Morris
This edition has been edited with an introduction and notes by Darryl Jones and also contains a select bibliography as well as a chronology of M.R. James.
Z Hayes
Not particularly scary or gruesome, but just great storytelling that is still very readable today.
Brandon E. Barker

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By John D. Steyers on April 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
M.R. James represents, for me, the nexus of two of my interests: the literature of England-Between-the-Wars, and ghost/horror fiction. I have read most of James's stories many times, and my enjoyment of them has actually increased with each re-reading. I read with interest of the publication of this book, but wondered if I really needed to buy it, since I already had all of James's stories -- or so I thought! I was delighted to discover that this collection actually contains several stories which I had never seen before! That fact alone made the book well worth my having. In addition, there is superior annotation which clarifies many points concerning the stories I knew. And, on top of all that, this edition is very nicely printed and bound! A real treasure for a number of reasons!
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Laurie A. Brown VINE VOICE on April 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Born in 1862, M. R. James was a Victorian with a love of ghost stories. Many of the tales in this collection were meant to be read aloud a Christmas or New Year gatherings; it shows in their conversational tone. There are 33 stories in over 400 pages- with 48 pages of notes. I've never before seen endnotes in fiction, but I found them helpful. The author makes many references to places and events in England that an American would likely not understand, and the many colloquialisms of the time sometimes baffled me until I looked in the back of the book. I read right through this book, which turned out to not be the right way of approaching it. Read one after the other, they tended to run together and lose their effect. These stories would be best read one or two in an evening, perhaps read out loud- preferably by firelight. But it was a library book, so I persevered.

`Ghost stories' is not really the right name for a lot of these stories. Many of them feature not ghosts but demons, things that go bump in the night, haunted or bespelled pictures, rooms, binoculars, hills and other inanimate objects. James seemed to have a peculiar horror of animate fabric, as it features in several tales, in the form of evil curtains, pillowcases, blankets, etc., which sounds silly but when it comes down to it, would you want to confront drapes that form into a human shape and try to smother you? For the main part (although there are a couple of exceptions) the horror in these stories in not of the modern variety where the gore is splattered across the pages. James creates a sense of disturbing unease, a feeling that puts the hair on the back of your neck up, the sense that something is really NOT all right, and that if one is smart, one will get the heck out of that house/cemetery/library before the thing you don't really see becomes visible. Highly enjoyable, but take your time reading it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Z Hayes HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
M.R. James is singularly responsible for my lifelong interest in ghost stories, and he is a true master of the genre. His antiquarian tastes are reflected in many of his ghost stories with the result that these stories are imbued with a high sense of atmosphere and creepiness.

I had worn out my old copy of his collected stories so I decided to splurge and got this handsome 2011 OUP edition. It is a sturdy hardcover edition with a beautiful grey ribbon marker. The cover is suitably Gothic with an angel statue portrayed glaring downwards. This edition features all of James' published ghost stories, as well as an appendix of James' writings on the ghost story. This edition has been edited with an introduction and notes by Darryl Jones and also contains a select bibliography as well as a chronology of M.R. James. There are also some explanatory notes on each of the stories at the end of the book. The select bibliography may not be extensive but has several gems, including The Lore of the Land: A Guide to England's Legends, from Spring-Heeled Jack to the Witches of Warboys which I promptly purchased for my reading pleasure.

In his Introduction, Darryl Jones wisely advises, "Readers who are unfamiliar with the stories may prefer to treat the Introduction as an Afterword." Indeed, loyal fans of M.R. James will be acquainted with some of the matters brought up in the Introduction, such as James' famed ghost story readings at Christmastime in Cambridge, the basis for TV productions such as BBC's Ghost Stories for Christmas (available at Amazon's UK website) and
...Read more ›
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Melanie Ivanoff on February 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The edition I read was copyrighted 1994 (and had a much less cheesy cover), so i can't speak to the editorial issues the other reviewer raised. As to the stories themselves, they are proper Victorian ghost stories. No sex or swearing, they are often 2nd or 3rd hand tellings of events that happened to the narrator's friend's brother. Occasionally i got a bit lost as to what exactly was supposed to be the scary bit; "Two Doctors" and "The Uncommon Prayerbook" were like that. my favorites were "The Story of a Disappearance and an Appearance" which was an epistolary story about the search for a missing man and his strange reappearance, "Wailing Well" about what happens to bad boys who don't do as they are told, "Casting the Runes" which had a hint of a caper story about it, and "The Mezzotint" which was a very creepy one about a picture that changes every time you look at it, telling a story of murder. overall, definitely worth reading, though i also recommend sipping these and just reading one or two at a time so they don't blur together.
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