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Collected Ghost Stories (Oxford World's Classics) Hardcover – December 1, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


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).

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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford World's Classics
  • Hardcover: 468 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (December 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199568847
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199568840
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 1.5 x 5.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,009,020 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By John Dennis ( on April 24, 1999
Format: Paperback
Some of the subtlest ghost stories ever written and all the more chilling for that. James never piles on the horror as, say, Lovecraft does but plants fears in your mind that will keep you from sleep: whispering voices, the touch of a cold hand in the darkness, an unseen cat brushing your legs.
James's fictional world, which owes something to Dickens, was based on the world he lived in, of Cambridge scholars exploring old libraries or churches or country houses. In such places, there are secrets hidden for centuries, only waiting for the careless unbeliever to open the door behind which they are lurking.
Try some of the classics like 'Casting the Runes' or 'The Treasure of Abbot Thomas' or, better, splash out on the Collected Stories. The quality is very high, with no more than three or four inferior ones in the whole book.
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72 of 79 people found the following review helpful By Martin Fisher on September 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
Love this book and, as with any collection, thought a specific listing of all thirty included short works might be helpful to potential buyers.
Canon Alberic's Scrapbook; Lost Hearts; The Mezzotint; The Ash Tree; Number 13; Count Magnus; 'Oh, Whistle, And I'll Come To You, My Lad'; The Treasure Of Abbot Thomas; A School Story; The Rose Garden; The Tractate Middoth; Casting The Runes; The Stalls Of Barchester Cathedral; Martin's Close; Mr. Humphreys And His Inheritance; The Residence At Whitminster; The Diary Of Mr. Paynter; An Episode Of Cathedral History; The Story Of A Disappearance And An Appearance; Two Doctors; The Haunted Doll's House; The Uncommon Prayer-Book; A Neighbor's Landmark; A View From A Hill; A Warning To The Curious; An Evenings Entertainment; There Was A Man Dwealt By A Churchyard; Rats; After Dark In The Playing Fields; Wailing Well; Stories I Have Tried To Write
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20 of 20 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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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By K Scheffler on August 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
First published in 1931, Colected Ghost Stories is a collection of most of M.R. James much revered stories. These stories were all first written for publication in magazines or for his famous Christmas readings, and were subsequently collected into four seperate volumes: Ghoast Stories of an Antiquary (1904), More Ghost Stories (1911), A Thin Ghost and Others (1919), and A Warning to the Curious (1925). Three stories that were published in magazines following the first publication of this work, and do not appear in this reprint; they are: The Experiment, The Malice of Inanimate Objects, and A Vignette.
James' skill for conceiving and presenting ghost stories seems to have developed at relatively young age, and his reading of some of his stories at King's College at Christmastime was a quite popular event. But ghost stories were, unfortunately, not James' priority; he was an antiquarian, and much respected one at that. He was also a noted linguist, paleographer, medievalist and biblical scholar--fields that all influenced his stories.
While it is safe to say that these ghost stories are among the best ever written, their style and subject matter are still a matter of taste. So it is difficult to catagorically recommend this book, but I doubt that any lover of ghost stories will be able to put this book down without difficulty after sampling but a story or two.
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21 of 22 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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