Ghost Stories
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Ghost Stories

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4.24 of 5 stars 4.24  ·  rating details  ·  368 ratings  ·  49 reviews
Malignant forces and supernatural visitors hauntthese superbly spooky tales, selected and introduced by Ruth Rendell

M. R. James wrote his ghost stories to entertain friends on Christmas Eve, and they went on to both transform and modernize a genre. James harnesses the power of suggestion to move from a recognizable world to one that is indefinably strange, and then unforge...more
Paperback, 269 pages
Published October 15th 2011 by Vintage
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(showing 1-30 of 846)
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dead letter office
if i had a creepy cool name like montague rhodes james i'd probably write ghost stories too.
Airiz C
After graduating from Stine’s “Goosebumps” books in high school, I quenched my thirst for more horror lit by a steady dose of readings from Poe, Lovecraft, King, and of course, James. Montague Rhodes James is perhaps one of my favorite horror writers back then, even if I’ve only read one anthology of his writings.

Complete Ghost Stories is a good tome of macabre literature. I must confess that most of the stories didn’t scare me at all but they kept me entertained and amused, fueling me to read u...more
Susan
If you are going to read only one author of the classic English ghost story, make it M.R. James - and buy this book, because it will give you all of his great stories in one place, ready whenever you're in the mood for a good Victorian/Edwardian chill. I read this book every October (perfect time of year for it), and I'm always amazed by James' gifts as a writer in this genre - he is really, really good, and a pleasure to read almost as much for his grace with the English language as he is for h...more
Tony
44. James, M. (Montague) R. (Rhodes). GHOST STORIES. ***. (1931; this ed. 1994). This is a reprint of an omnibus edition that James put together himself from his four previously published books of short stories. These included, “Ghost Stories of an Antiquary,” “A Thin Ghost and Others,” Twelve Mediaeval Ghost Stories,” and “The Five Jars.” What is special about this collection is that the author added a new preface where he answered a lot of questions that readers had asked him over the years. H...more
Julie Davis
The current description for this book at Goodreads is confused with Edgar Allan Poe so I will provide the publisher's description for this fabulous little book:
"In another infinitesimal flash he had taken it in. Pale, dusky skin, covering nothing but bones and tendons of appalling strength; coarse black hairs, longer than ever grew on a human hand; nails rising from the ends of the fingers and curving sharply down and forward, grey horny and wrinkled. He flew out of his chair with deadly inconce
...more
Rosie
I was in two minds about reading this because I love, LOVE, LOVE ghost stories, BUT I don't really enjoy short stories. Often I feel like you just don't get much from them as they are not long enough to get to know the characters or care about the storyline, plus you always like some stories in a collection better than others...

So glad to be proved wrong in this case!

These fabulous tales were the perfect length, long enough to grab your attention and make you need to get to the end, but short en...more
Jim
Recommended as one of the classic authors of ghost stories, I first became aware of James' work when I saw Jonathan Miller's film 'Whistle And I'll Come To You', adapted from one of his stories. The typical James story doesn't deal with the horror directly, oddly enough; the story is often told by a narrator twice or more times removed from the action. So you get a story told by the author who heard it from a school friend, who pieced it together from the stories of two different people, etc. Bu...more
Ben Schultz
This guy is a genius, and this book is a great example of how a great author can essentially write the same short story over and over and still make them compulsively readable. "Oh Whistle and I'll Come To You, My Lad" gets all the press, but I think there are a lot of stories at least its equal in the collection, including "Canon Alberic's Scrapbook", "Casting the Runes", "Count Magnus" (much of which was lifted for a John Bellairs novel whose title I can't remember) and
"The Ash Tree".
Samuel
Classic ghost stories are generally fairly placid affairs by today's standards, but, not these ones! No, sir! James had a flair for them, he found the pattern, got the knack and fell into the rhythm, and as such wrote brilliantly and consistently. You'll find better horror out there, sure, but you will not find better ghost stories, and certainly none that'll send a shiver down your spine like these will.
Deanne
More creepy than violent, tales which start off with fairly normal events and situations as told by someonelse. Then it starts to get strange and then downright creepy. Sorry if I thought I heard rats in the room I was sleeping, I'd be out of bed, down the stairs looking for a number for rent-a-kill.
Jim
Taken as an anthology of writing by James and his purported influences, the book mixes some truly fascinating material with such careless and misleading scholarship that it is difficult to take anything in it seriously. Enjoy the selections, but be wary of Haining's assertions.
John Hennessy
As a youngster M.R. James was one of my earliest introductions to scary books. I can honestly say that they did scare me, and yet, as an adult, whilst they are extremely well written, they are for perhaps a by-gone era, and so, perhaps they are less scary today.

That said, Oh Whistle And I'll Come To You, My Lad remains a true horror classic. As a production, it has been on the BBC a few times, but the 2010 John Hurt version is REALLY scary (both the original and JH versions are on you tube) and...more
Sarb
I wasn't expecting much from this collection of short ghost stories. It was picked up in a rush on the way home from work. It's probably one of the most haunting collection of stories that I've read! Highly recommended.
Cathy
Jul 12, 2008 Cathy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ghost story afficionados everywhere
Shelves: ghost-stories
I have been reading ghost stories for more than thirty years now, and still consider Montague Rhodes James' stories as the most superior, skilfully written and chilling tales to be produced in this genre.
Fernanda
A must read if you're into horror literature. The power of these stories lies in what they leave to the reader's imagination. They usually start with a trip of some kind, some nights spent in a comfortable hotel room, and then the discovery of certain legend from that particular town, some superstition the villagers refuse to talk about... and the supernatural elements begin to appear slowly: somebody taps at the window, the protagonist hears someone calling his name, but nobody's around, or he...more
Amy
"It was a horrid, grotesque shape -- perhaps more like a toad than anything else, and there was a label by it inscribed with the two words, 'Despositum custodi." Maybe not exactly the type of ghost story you'd read around a campfire, holding a flashlight under your face, but really ideal for a stormy autumn night.

I read a few back-to-back over the course of a night, and they sort of blended together. They were still enjoyable, but to maximize enjoyment, I recommend reading one story per night....more
D. J.
(Review of the 592 page hardback "Collectors Library" edition.)

I've been a fan of M. R. James' stories for well over thirty years. Few authors of the past 150 years can craft a ghost story with such an impact as James regularly managed. I've recently re-read many of James' stories on my Kindle as they are in the public domain and freely available, but I was excited to get this hardback collection to have something tangible and to hand down to my kids to ignite their imagination once they are old...more
Pat Padden
M.R. James was the provost of King's College, Cambridge as well as of Eton College in the years from 1905 to 1936. A medieval scholar, a writer of guidebooks to the abbeys of Britain and to the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk, translator of Biblical Apocrypha, and author of such weighty tomes as "A Descriptive Catalogue of the Library of Samuel Pepys", "The Wanderings and Homes of Manuscripts" and "A Descriptive Catalogue of the McClean Collection of Manuscripts in the Fitzwilliam Museum" he spe...more
Tecni
Me ha dejado un poco frío o, al menos, más frío de lo que yo esperaba. Es un libro clásico de la literatura de terror y temo que es precisamente de esto de lo que no logra escapar: historias que se quedan a medio camino de las de Edgar Allan Poe, E.T.A. Hoffmann o H.P. Lovecraft (aunque a este me recuerda solo en algunos casos), todas ellas con un denominador común: los finales son horribles y no precisamente en el sentido de que den miedo.

Supongo que hubiera sido un buen libro para leer en la a...more
Emma Christmas
The author uses the most wonderfully evocative language and has a rhythmical way of writing that draws you in. So effective is his style that after reading a number of stories back to back, alone, I shut all the windows before I went to bed, something I never do, and spent a remarkably restless night. I now really wish I had passed Latin and maybe encouraged to try again. Truly remarkable writing that invokes a delicious sense of unease and a gnawing sense of dread.
Jo
5th September 2010

I revisited this old favourite after many years, I first read James at the age of fifteen and hid under the blankets afraid to turn off the light. Coming back for a second time I still find that fearful enjoyment in his stories even though there is less gore that we have become used to in recent years both on t.v. and in books. Although only written in the 1930's the beautiful use of the english language without need of slang or swearing is so refreshing. The volume that I read...more
Jane
Not dreadfully scary, but perhaps not the best book to get for the Kindle Paperwhite I got for Christmas. The idea was that it would allow me to read in bed in the dark without disturbing my sleeping husband, but I did actually put it down part-way through "Oh whistle and I'll come to you"...
Andrew
It is strange what you learn along the way. Now I have heard of the Christmas Ghost stories - hell the BBC here broadcast dramatised versions of them every year - what I did realise was that M R James effectively started them (am sure someone will correct me). this book (sadly there are no images of it as its the large formate illustrated hardback version) collects some of his most popular tales on to one. Considering their age and the character to M R James they are incredibly accessible and en...more
Kirsti
Apr 27, 2008 Kirsti rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kirsti by: John
Shelves: fiction, mystery
Originally published in 1931. Quite spooky and very, very upper-class English.

I love the little asides sprinkled throughout:

"Few people can resist the temptation to try a little amateur research in a department quite outside their own, if only for the satisfaction of how successful they would have been had they only taken it up seriously."

" ' I think probably it was quite an attractive place, but boys seldom allow that their schools possess any tolerable features. ' "

And I love that James descri...more
Nina Chatterjee
Chilling ... Descriptive to a level of being subtle but intense ...
mi$$ ҥɪᴆᴆŁеs
The book was indubitably great, there were all kinds of horror stories; from monsters to mere ghosts. Some of them were rather familiar. For instance, Rats, Casting the Runes and The Treasure of Abbot Thomas. I've read stories like these in other books. I can't believe horror stories were popular in those days coz the book was originally published in 1931! Anyway the only thing that troubled me is that there is no explanation for the ghostly occurrences that have occurred.
Babis
Be warned: this book does NOT contain the collected stories of M. R. James. It is really fascinating with lots of odd bits about James and some obscure writtings of his on the supernatural (it does contain two or three stories that are not to be found in the "collected" editions, but anyways, the title is utterly misleading. I wish I knew why publishers like to do these things and cheat on the readers...
Kevin Lucia
Just finished this, and I'm still unsure of my opinion. I don't think I really liked it as much as 4 stars, but I liked it MORE than only three stars, if that makes any sense. Some of the stories were truly chilling, others were very neat and clever ideas, and some just kinda bounced off my head. Still an important voice in the development of the ghost story, however.
Charlotte T
Disclaimer: I don't think this is the exact edition I read (I have the Vintage Classics version) but as the content is probably similar that's not a major issue. Anyway, this is an essential for any fans of a good old-fashioned ghost story. M.R James is truly one of the masters of the genre- I found 'The Mezzotint' especially chilling. Read it!
C
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Montague Rhodes James, who used the publication name M. R. James, was a noted British mediaeval scholar and provost of King's College, Cambridge (1905–1918) and of Eton College (1918–1936). He is best remembered for his ghost stories which are widely regarded as among the finest in English literature. One of James' most important achievements was to redefine the ghost story for the new century by...more
More about M.R. James...
Collected Ghost Stories Ghost Stories of an Antiquary Count Magnus and Other Ghost Stories Casting the Runes and Other Ghost Stories More Ghost Stories of an Antiquary

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