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Casting the Runes and Other Ghost Stories…

Casting the Runes and Other Ghost Stories (Oxford World's Classics) (edition 1999)

by M. R. James, Michael Cox (Editor)

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319634,767 (4.34)17
Title:Casting the Runes and Other Ghost Stories (Oxford World's Classics)
Authors:M. R. James
Other authors:Michael Cox (Editor)
Info:Oxford University Press, USA (1999), Edition: New, Paperback, 400 pages
Collections:Your library, Books Read: 2012 (inactive)
Tags:2008 Acquisitions, Author Sex: Male, Author Nationality: UK, Anthology, Fiction: Speculative, Fiction: Crime/Suspense, Date: 1900s, New Author

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Casting the Runes and Other Ghost Stories [Oxford World Classics] by M. R. James



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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
Discovering the classic port-and-leather-armchair ghost stories of M.R. James is like first reading "Dune" or "The Lord of the Rings." The tremendous possibilities of an entire genre suddenly open up to you, and you end up reading dozens of similar books but only rarely find that original thrill-so inevitably you come full circle, content to read (over and over) "Oh Whistle," "Number 13," and "A Warning to the Curious." And the stories never lose their magic and menace. - Adam
1 vote stephencrowe | Nov 11, 2015 |
Not at all what I expected, but interesting. ( )
  wbwilburn5 | Oct 16, 2012 |
I first read the ghost stories of M.R. James in the 1970s while in high school. IMHO,they are the best ghost stories ever written. Very British, they follow a delightful literary course , building the tension and then wrapping up the story in a memorable fashion. Many embody the creeping evil that awaits until meddling human hands intervene. ( )
1 vote kaki5231 | Sep 5, 2012 |
M.R. James is an acknowledged master of the form of the modern ghost story, and this volume collects a sizeable number of his best. These are stories for the telling, effectively calculated to disturb their hearers, and they mix the aims of entertainment and (I hesitantly suggest) initiation after the fashion of a spookhouse event.

All of these tales are set in England, and the Englishness of them is pervasive. The narrators and most of the central characters share the well-off intellectual background of James himself, and the texts actually inhabit an impressively narrow cultural spectrum. And yet there is a fair amount of variety to the ways in which James can scare you. He never makes the error of providing too much detail, and he is very efficient in leaving inessential issues undefined, and even critical ones ambiguous, when that won't undermine the chilling effect.

James was an author favored by H.P. Lovecraft, and he also seems to have been read by Thelemic magician Jack Parsons, whose notion of "the Black Pilgrimage" evidently derives from the story "Count Magnus" included here. The title story "Casting the Runes" (1911) has so many points of similarity to H.R. Wakefield's "He cometh and he passeth by..." (1928), that I suspect Wakefield of using James as a model there. (Wakefield also used Aleister Crowley as a model for the villain of "He cometh..." and it is just possible that James's Karswell in "Casting the Runes" is also predicated on Crowley, although with much less supporting detail.)

The edition I read was the 2002 Oxford World's Classics reissue in hardback (checked out from my public library). It is a delightfully portable little tome, considering how much material it contains, and it boasts a new introduction by Michael Chabon, which is full of interesting observations on James's biography and the role of the ghost story in Western literature. But the edition had one drawback. Beyond the author's own occasional numbered footnotes (supplementary explanations in his narrative mode of a friendly scholar) the book is full of asterisks, usually after proper names and geographic references, suggesting that it once included a further apparatus of editorial annotation. The corresponding notes are absent from this edition, however, and the vestigial reference marks are -- considering the general mood of the writing -- a little unnerving.
5 vote paradoxosalpha | Apr 21, 2012 |
Old-fashioned ghost stories that make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end, from one of the best. Not the most complete collection but pretty close. ( )
1 vote Moomin_Mama | May 19, 2009 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
M. R. Jamesprimary authorall editionscalculated
Chabon, MichaelIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Book description
Canon Alberic's Scrap-Book,
The Mezzotint,
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,
Mr. Humphreys and His Inheritance,
The Diary of Mr. Poynter,
An Episode of Cathedral History,
The Uncommon Prayer-Book,
A Neighbour's Landmark,
A Warning to the Curious,
The Experiment,
The Malice of Inanimate Objects,
A Vignette
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0192837737, Paperback)

This selection of twenty-one short stories by M.R. James--a first-class writer of supernatural fiction--represents his best work, including "Count Magnus," "The Rose Garden," "The Uncommon Prayer-book," "Rats," "The Malice of Inanimate Objects," and "A Vignette," as well as the title story.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:21 -0400)

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