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Ghost Stories of an Antiquary

4.10  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,567 Ratings  ·  163 Reviews
Eight classics by great Edwardian scholar and storyteller. "Number Thirteen," "The Mezzotint," "Canon Alberic's Scrapbook," more. Renowned for their wit, erudition and suspense, these stories are each masterfully constructed and represent a high achievement in the ghost genre. New introduction by E. F. Bleiler. 4 plates by James McBride.
Paperback, 176 pages
Published November 24th 2011 by Dover Publications (NY) (first published 1904)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Bill  Kerwin

This is M. R. James first book of ghost stories, containing eight of his best. I believe six of these eight are among the twenty best tales of ghostly terror ever written--and the other two tales are very good too. If you like traditional ghost stories that unnerve the reader subtly by suggestion and indirection, this is a book you should read.
Oct 23, 2013 Terry rated it really liked it
This volume contains eight tasty little nuggets of supernatural horror that I found very satisfying. In each of them the story is told second or even third hand by a genial narrator whose acquaintances, who are themselves of a decidedly scholarly bent, have been the victims of supernatural intrusion into our world. Often the stories revolve around an ancient artifact able to invoke the otherworldly that is discovered by these particularly luckless individuals (though they often feel themselves l ...more
Dec 28, 2015 Jean rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jean by: Chris
Ghost Stories of an Antiquary is the first collection of stories by M. R. James, published in 1904, although some had been previously published in magazines. The next collection from 1922 is often nowadays combined with this volume. Montague Rhodes James was a noted medieval scholar and provost of Kings College, Cambridge. His scholarly work remains highly respected in academic circles.

Interestingly one incident in M. R. James's life could have come straight from his stories. His discovery of a
Ghost Stories of an Antiquary by M.R. James
A fantastic collection of creepy atmospheric horror tales written back in the day. I felt that these stories lost nothing with the passage of time. In fact, I appreciated the fact that these tales weren't gory at all. I guess I've gotten used to explicit scenes in my horror, and these shorts served to remind me that blood and guts don't necessarily have to play a part. My imagination often supplies something scarier than the author may have intended a
Mike (the Paladin)
Feb 16, 2016 Mike (the Paladin) rated it liked it
Shelves: horror
I'd read some of these before and most are excellent. James has an imagination that can draw you in...and then take advantage of your vulnerabilities to things that may or may not go bump in the night.

You and always find reliably creepy stories from James and I can recommend this if you're looking for ghost/supernatural stories.
Feb 22, 2016 Obsidian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Please note that I gave this 3.5 stars but since Goodreads does not have half stars I rounded up to 4 stars.

These are not your typical horror stories. I did like them though. James has a subtle style to his writing and stories. I think that he assumes his readers are going to imagine more things that can be worse than what he will write so a lot of things are left to your imagination in some of the stories.

The stories are the following:

"Canon Alberic's Scrap-Book"-3 stars. Not very scary. And
Most reveiewers here feel that MR James is a master of the genre and I agree. There are certain expectations of a ghost story writer and for many readers these expectations are fulfilled. As in the case of Lovecraft, the stories tend to be disarmingly similar, which is at once a weakness in terms of the religious or philosophical horizon, but has all the strength of a discipline imposed and accepted. Charcateristic of the genre is an inciteement to fear of the inheritance of the past and fear of ...more
Aug 09, 2009 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Full review from Badelynge
I love a good ghost story. M.R.James is one of the best at the short form of the genre. Ghost Stories of an Antiquary is packed with some of his best. All the stories here were written between 1894 and 1904 and were originally read to the author's friends at Christmas at Kings College, Cambridge where James was a noted British medieval scholar. I'd guess the best way to experience these chilling little stories would be to have them read to you on a dark night, in the de
Oct 01, 2011 Sean rated it really liked it
This is great collection of 7 classic ghost stories. Most relate to traveling scholars and their ghostly encounters. My only complaint is that many of these stories are very similar. Out of the 7, the story Number 13 is my favorite. This is a nice quick read if you are the mood for a few really good ghost stories.
Όποιος θέλει να τρομάξει πολύ, καλύτερα να επιλέξει ένα άλλο βιβλίο και όχι το Ιστορίες φαντασμάτων ενός αρχαιοδίφη, καθώς είναι περισσότερο μυστήριου παρά τρόμου, ίσως την εποχή που γράφτηκε να θεωρούνταν τρόμου… δεν γνωρίζω. Ο τρόμος μειώνεται με πολλούς τρόπους. Πρώτον ο ήρωας που έχει αίσιο τέλος στο διήγημα, η σωτηρία του προαναγγέλλετε με κάποιο τρόπο στην ιστορία μέσω του αφηγητή, ο οποίος αναφέρει ότι την ιστορία που μας διηγείται την άκουσε από τον ίδιο τον ήρωα. Δεύτερον η τρομακτική α ...more
Nickolas the Kid
Aug 14, 2016 Nickolas the Kid rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, vampires
Οι ιστορίες έχουν μια δόση υπερφυσικού τρόμου και κάποιο μυστήριο αλλά προσωπικά δεν πιστεύω πως αυτό είναι το δυνατό σημείο του βιβλίου... Οι περιγραφές του James και η εισαγωγή της συγκεκριμένης έκδοσης (σχετικά με την εξέλιξη των ιστοριών με φαντάσματα) είναι οι 2 λόγοι που αξίζει κανείς να έχει αυτό το βιβλίο...

ΥΓ: Διαβάζεται καλύτερα Χριστούγεννα σε ημίφως ...
Ben Thurley
Dec 07, 2013 Ben Thurley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
These stories are a delight – finely-crafted ghost stories from the turn of the twentieth century, subversively witty and proceeding to build suspense, menace and even outright horror by insinuation and implication much more than bare narration or depiction.

The stories aren't particularly revolutionary, typically beginning with an energetic and atmospheric description of the setting before introducing an urbane and often scholarly narrator who will interact with a relic that provides a doorway t
Apr 23, 2012 Graziano rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

‘They were in the sitting-room of the house, a small, high chamber with a stone floor,
full of moving shadows cast by a wood-fire that flickered on a great heart.’ (p.13)

Canon Alberic’s Scrap-Book was first published in 1904, although it was written in 1894.
The story is set in southern France.
An English tourist is photographing the interior of the cathedral of Saint-Bernard-de-Comminges at the foot of Pyrenees, when the cathedral’s sacristan tries to sell him a strange
Tania Donald
Jul 09, 2011 Tania Donald rated it it was amazing
As Leonardo is to painting, so M R James is to the short ghost story. He really is that good. These stories are like beautifully crafted little gems, rich in tiny, exquisite detail, and sparkling with dark beauty.
There is an indefinable rare something that marks out the greatest writers of supernatural fiction. H P Lovecraft had it, and M R James had it. It's a kind of mood, an atmosphere, but it's more than that. Effortlessly, these writers draw you into a world where the most strange and terri
Mar 11, 2013 Jen rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, 3-star, read-2013
I was quite honestly surprised by just how much I enjoyed these stories. I am not, generally speaking, a fan of much horror and I felt that these stories may fall into that space. But, a friend recommended, and so I tried. What I loved about these was the suspense and how clear the characters were painted. It wasn't gory and it wasn't really scary. It was just good fiction. These would probably be best read aloud. My favorite of the tales was "Number Thirteen".

Three stars solely because it coul
Jan 17, 2014 Latasha rated it really liked it
I love these ghost stories!!!
Jul 01, 2014 Dean rated it it was amazing
MR James's stories have nearly everything that a classic ghost story should have. Period settings, for us at least, although as an Edwardian he wrote a lot about the Victorian period. Geographic settings usually in cold and foreign climes, Germany, Denmark and Sweden, like us but foreign too. The anti-heroes are invariably bachelors who are also chaste University dons, like himself, alone singular and scholastic. Many are religious but are men of reason who have this reason challenged by much ol ...more
M.R. James fue uno de los mejores escritores dedicados al peculiar género de las ghost stories, o historias de fantasmas. Realmente, no se dedicaba a ello profesionalmente; creaba sus historias para contarlas a sus amigos y conocidos, siendo para él más una afición con la que disfrutar enormemente, eso sí, haciéndonoslo pasar "mal". Afortunadamente, se fueron publicando porque se trata, indiscutiblemente, de uno de los maestros del relato breve.

Sus cuentos son una delicia escalofriante. M.R. Jam
Nov 06, 2015 David rated it really liked it
As others have pointed out, these stories are not super scary. But they are weird and supernatural and very fun to read. There is also some humor. I really enjoyed reading this book. And the book is in the public domain so the price was right.
Erik Graff
Jun 05, 2011 Erik Graff rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: ghost story fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: literature
M.R. James was known to me as the editor and translator of the Oxford editon of the Apocryphal New Testament. Finding ghost stories by such a scholar was intriguing and the reading of them was quite pleasant.
Apr 18, 2015 Melanti rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One particular passage of this book jumped out at me:

I freely own that I do not like careless talk about what you call ghosts. A man in my position,' he went on, raising his voice a little, 'cannot, I find, be too careful about appearing to sanction the current beliefs on such subjects.

I tend to enjoy these early classic ghost stories for their understated and generally atmospheric writing style (as opposed to gory, violent modern horror) and I often forget their historical context. This was mos
Montague Rhodes James (1862 ~ 1936) is the father of the English ghost story. His short stories are, quite simply, the finest traditional supernatural tales ever penned by mortal man. Utterly lacking in gore and in-your-face horror, James' fiction relies on the delicate manipulation of the reader's imagination to create a subtle, uneasy sort of suspense. James has inspired and unsettled countless writers and readers since his tales first came into print, and his popularity and influence remain u ...more
Μανώλης Σιμιτσάκης
Περίμενα πολλά περισσότερα από αυτό το βιβλίο. Δεν τα έδωσε όμως ούτε καν στον στοιχειώδη βαθμό. Δεν με άγγιξε, με άφηνε να χάνομαι σε άλλες σκέψεις και στα υγιή προβλήματα της καθημερινότητας. Ούτε μία ιστορία δεν με κράτησε σε αγωνία... να θέλω να μάθω τι θα γίνει παρακάτω.
Τρόμος; Ανύπαρκτος. Ίσως για την εποχή του να τα κατάφερνε, παίζοντας με τις θρησκευτικές αντιλήψεις - προσοχή, όχι παραδοσιακές - του αιώνα που πέρασε.
Κουβαλάει τον παλιό βόρειο αέρα, έχει στοιχεία που εμπλουτίζουν τις γνώσ
Julie Davis
Nov 03, 2015 Julie Davis rated it it was amazing
I love M.R. James' ghost stories and am listening (again) to Peter Yearsley's fine reading of them (free from Librivox). Since James wrote these to read aloud to the schoolboys on Christmas Eve (in the fine old British tradition of ghost stories for Christmas), these are best savored when heard.
Apr 17, 2013 Lee rated it it was amazing
No one writes more chilling ghost stories than M R James.These tales are agreeably creepy while you are reading them and then prey on your mind for ages (years in the case of Lost Hearts and Oh Whistle and I'll Come to You My Lad).
In most of the stories the humdrum lives of the protagonists are suddenly and traumatically invaded by the supernatural without any real cause. For instance, in Oh Whistle and I'll come to you my Lad - an elderly professer undergoes a terrifying and almost fatal exper
Feb 11, 2015 Laura marked it as to-read
Recommends it for: Hannah, Bettie, Wanda
Free download available at Project Gutenberg.
Blair Hodgkinson
May 23, 2016 Blair Hodgkinson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror-fiction
Ghost stories for medieval history majors. Excellent. I have read and enjoyed a few of these before in various anthologies but reading them together is a far more satisfying experience. James was a master of suspense and the macabre.
Oct 16, 2015 Jill rated it liked it
Very well written, in a cosy manner. Not frightening really, just slightly uncomfortable.
Apr 25, 2016 Denise rated it really liked it
After several consecutive "grit lit" reads, I'm ready to indulge in some Edwardian British ghost stories. M.R. James is a master of the craft of creating haunting (pardon the pun) tales in which there is little, if any, blood and gore, and lots of atmosphere. This collection, his first, is made up of stories he wrote for the entertainment of his college friends at Christmas time. (There was a peculiar British tradition of telling ghost stories on Christmas Eve---think "A Christmas Carol"). They ...more
Will Hoover
Although as a general rule, I much prefer to digest accounts of a true paranormal nature, I must concede that this collection of obviously contrived ghostly tales is exceedingly well crafted. Not much in the way of imaginative storytelling is amiss here, and there are shivers and shudders aplenty to be had within the pages of M. R. James's Ghost Stories of an Antiquary.

The somewhat dated writing style is arguably a bit wordy and verbose in spots, but the narrative is none the less exceptionally
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What makes a ghost story scary? 10 65 Feb 11, 2013 10:37AM  
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Montague Rhodes James, who used the publication name M.R. James, was a noted British mediaeval scholar & provost of King's College, Cambridge (1905–18) & of Eton College (1918–36). He's 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 di ...more
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“At first you saw only a mass of coarse, matted black hair; presently it was seen that this covered a body of fearful thinness, almost a skeleton, but with the muscles standing out like wires. The hands were of a dusky pallor, covered, like the body, with long, coarse hairs, and hideously taloned. The eyes, touched in with a burning yellow, had intensely black pupils, and were fixed upon the throned King with a look of beast-like hate. Imagine one of the awful bird-catching spiders of South America translated into human form, and endowed with intelligence just less than human, and you will have some faint conception of the terror inspired by the appalling effigy.” 4 likes
“He lighted the candles, for it was now dark, made the tea, and supplied the friend with whom he had been playing golf (for I believe the authorities of the University I write of indulge in that pursuit by way of relaxation); and tea was taken to the accompaniment of a discussion which golfing persons can imagine for themselves, but which the conscientious writer has no right to inflict upon any non-golfing persons.” 3 likes
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