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Ghost Stories of an Antiquary

4.1  ·  Rating details ·  3,339 Ratings  ·  232 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, 157 pages
Published November 24th 2011 by Dover Publications (NY) (first published 1904)
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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.
Aug 20, 2012 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
Jun 05, 2013 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
Mike (the Paladin)
Jan 17, 2016 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 aS always find reliably creepy stories from James and I can recommend this if you're looking for ghost/supernatural stories.
Bruce Beckham
May 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
My (positive) review of this book has to begin with two admissions. Firstly, I have no idea how or where I came by it (hardback edition, £14.99 – quite pricey for 8 short stories) and, secondly I’m pretty certain I could not accurately have defined an ‘Antiquary’.

On the latter point, Wikipedia tells me it’s the term used for a person who studies history with particular attention to ancient artefacts, archaeological and historic sites, or historic archives and manuscripts. Having read the stories
Jan 28, 2016 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
Dec 15, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Every so often it's good to dip into a classic. Alas, this was the sort of classic that reminded me why it's precisely every so often and not more frequently than that. Widely beloved, widely lauded these are suppose to be among the finest tales of supernatural fiction and yet they didn't do it for me at all. I tried and tried, took several sittings. The book's page count is misleading, it's entered as 94 on GR and 122 on Amazon and yet by my account considering the time spent reading it and the ...more
Mar 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Get ready for the shivers when you read these creepers.
Aug 02, 2009 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
DeAnna Knippling
While I enjoyed the stories here, I didn't find them at all scary or really all that dark. These are tales to be told of a Christmas eve around the first in the UK, and for that, they're probably perfect. That being said, they're perfectly readable and enjoyable if you're in a fireplace/campfire mood.

Reading these now, after recently going through a lot of the classics of the modern horror genre, it seems like a lot of modern writers are stealing from MR James but adding their own twists to mak
Sep 18, 2011 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.
Jan 16, 2011 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
Andrea Torrejón
Jan 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I never liked horror stories, because I'm a sissy and I get very, VERY scared.
And I have nightmares and shit, and I can't sleep alone or with the lights out.
But lately, I'm really scared of the world. The politics, the social situation, the environmental state, the growth of extremism and terrorism, the floating certainty of war, injustice, and greed.
So suddenly, ghosts, ouija boards, demons, and spectres don't seem so scary.
They do make my hair stand on end, but they have become a refuge, a
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
Tania Donald
Jul 09, 2011 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
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
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)
I first read MR James several years ago, and he still remains my favorite ghost story writer. This volume has a few of his best stories in it. MR James was an antiquarian (studied, translated and catalogued old books, particularly religious texts), so he knew all about dusty books, religious tomes, in particular, and old places with plenty of history and mystery, and that's evident in his stories. Some might not get the narration style, but many of these were invented for telling instead of read ...more
Ben Thurley
Dec 07, 2013 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
Feb 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2013, fiction, 3-star
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
Nickolas the Kid
Jul 21, 2014 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 ...
Oct 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, tbr17
These eight ghost stories are classics of the genre and found in many anthologies. Originally written to be read aloud, their colloquial tone adds to the suspense, and my sense is that stories like "The Mezzotint" and "Oh, Whistle and I'll Come to You, My Lad" are best read early in the evening. ;)
Jan 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
I love these ghost stories!!!
What perfectly creepy little tales! Lost Hearts and The Treasure of Abbot Thomas were my favorites. I had a lot of fun with these stories.
Dean Cowan
Jul 01, 2014 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
May 02, 2017 marked it as dnf
These stories are very well written and I'm impressed by the author's ability to create suspense and mood with such subtlety and a few well chosen words. These aren't horror stories in the modern sense, but they are most definitely spooky, and I'm sure the excellent reading by the Librivox narrator made a great contribution to the book's ambience.
But, I'm not into spooky. I can admire the writing, I can sit on the edge of my sit in suspense, but I can't actually enjoy spooky. So after listening
Sep 20, 2016 rated it it was ok
I came across a reference to one of the stories in this book, "Oh Whistle and I'll Come to You, My Lad", which has been filmed for UK TV a couple of times. It is probably the best story in the book, though I quite enjoyed a couple of others as well.

As ghost stories, they really weren't very scary, but I suppose we have been toughened up a lot by films and television since these stories were written, to say nothing of books such as "The Little Stranger" by Sarah Waters. Now that one is really som
Aug 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Recommended to Beth by: Bill Kerwin
The audio narration was excellent. I liked most of these, but I'm not quite as enthusiastic as I thought I would be, and my attention wandered a bit with some of them. The highlight is probably "Oh Whistle and I'll Come to You, My Lad" in which the narrator is followed around by a ghost after coming across a mysterious whistle at an an archaelogical ruin.
Erik Graff
Jul 27, 2009 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.
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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
More about M.R. James
“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.” 5 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.” 5 likes
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