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Count Magnus and Other Ghost Stories

(The Complete Ghost Stories of M.R. James #1)

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  2,151 ratings  ·  77 reviews
The only annotated edition of M. R. James's writings currently available, Count Magnus and Other Ghost Stories contains the entire first two volumes of James's ghost stories, Ghost Stories of an Antiquary and More Ghost Stories of an Antiquary. These volumes are both the culmination of the nineteenth-century ghost story tradition and the inspiration for much of the best tw ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published September 28th 2006 by Penguin Classics (first published 1904)
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4.26  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,151 ratings  ·  77 reviews

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Anastasia Fitzgerald-Beaumont
My grandfather, my father’s father, attended Eton College before the Second World War, leaving there for Sandhurst when he was seventeen. During his time at school he got to know M. R. James, who was provost until his death in the summer of 1936. Grandfather was among the successive waves of boys that James introduced to the tingly delights of the ghost story, a genre in which the old master excelled, writing some of the best tales in the English language. He learned to love the ghost story from ...more
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)
Sep 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of classic horror
Recommended to Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) by: Classic Horror Lovers Tales to Chill Your Blood group read
This review is for Count Magnus alone (although I fully intend to read the other stories at some point).

Mr. James has not been called a ghost story-writing master for no reason. He is an expert at building the atmosphere and writing a story that delivers an eerie, creepy thrill to the reader. Although I wouldn't call this one of my favorite stories by him, he was quite successful with this tale about an ill-fated travel-writer who comes upon the mystery of a not-so nice Swedish nobleman with an
Riju Ganguly
Jul 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
There are better, more "reasonably" annotated collections available now, which showcase the absolute genius of M.R. James. But at the time of its publication, this Penguin volume was the only one of its kind. The erudite and somewhat angry notes from Joshi had helped a lot in understanding some of the references.
But the stories ruled!
More powerful than the roar of some king-monster, the stories made crackle of page or drifting of a cloth so terrifying that keeping the lights on seemed a better o
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I’ve read a couple of M.R. James short stories before and enjoyed them, yet until I sat down and read a full collection of his work did I realise what a talented writer he actually was. You can really see the influence he’s had, Lovecraft for instance spoke of his fondness for his work and you can see parallels between their styles and the impact he's has had on horror literature in general.
I absolutely loved this book, the stories are still creepy by today’s standards and the writing is beauti
Jim Smith
May 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The first two collections of M. R. James. Ghost Stories of an Antiquary is one of the great collections of supernatural fiction, and its immediate successor, while perhaps not as ridiculously perfect, gets very little wrong.

The following two collections, which together comprise the later The Haunted Doll's House and Other Ghost Stories volume, contained some essential stuff, but were more uneven, so this first Count Magnus and Other Ghost Stories volume features most of the author's famous stor
Feb 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
It's hard to write about this collection because some of its particularities are annoying (or just disappointing), but on the whole it left a positive impression on me. So the whole is greater than the parts.

As far as ghost stories go, these are some of the most subtle I have ever read. If you are coming to M.R. James because you like Lovecraft, be prepared for tales less intense than his. One of the best qualities of James's stories is that his world is entirely believable; it's essentially our
Oct 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Some of these were truly excellent, others a little difficult to get through. Overall, though, exactly what I wanted to read this time of year.
Rachel Seamount
Jun 30, 2015 rated it liked it
M.R. James is the man who put “scary” into “scary ghost stories” and as much as I hate to admit it, he was damn good at it. As the man who pioneered turning spooks and haunts into things that actually jumped out and got you, he helped to inspired H.P. Lovecraft’s more well-known macabre tales.

There’s a lot that can be gleaned from James’ writing style, but I’ll leave that to authors more dedicated to horror writing than I am. What I took away from the collection Count Magnus and Other Ghost Stor
Orrin Grey
Aug 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
After re-reading my Collected Ghost Stories in honor of M.R. James' birthday, I realized a lot of things, not least that I was more enamored of (and more indebted to) M.R. James than I'd realized. So at once I sought out the Penguin editions which, though they contained more or less all the same stories as the Collected Ghost Stories, also contained various notes from James himself, as well as annotations and the like. I'd definitely say these were the definitive volumes, assuming that (like me) ...more
Scott Rhee
Jul 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
M.R. James loved to tell ghost stories around the fire, apparently a Christmas tradition in England during the Victorian Period, and someone wisely suggested that he put several of the spookiest ones into book form.

Thus, we have "Count Magnus and Other Ghost Stories", published by Penguin Classics, the only comprehensive collection of his complete stories. Not a lot, to be sure, but enough to paint a picture of a time when people were still terrified by floating bedsheets and whispering wind.

Sep 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: lovers of classic horror and supernatural stories
This was my first crack at reading MR James, and I must say I really enjoyed it. Probably not much can be said about his writing that hasn't already been said, but I will give my impressions anyway.

James writes in a much more readable and direct way than some other writers of classic or gothic horror, for example LeFanu. The prose is still elaborate enough to be very satisfying to a reader of classic horror.

I am definitely interested in reading more MR James in the future. My favorite stories in
Suzanne moodhe
Nov 15, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: lovers of the classic ghost tale, readers of Lovecraft and Poe
God I love ghost stories! Fall is the best time of year for a little Ray Bradbury, H.P. Lovecraft and now...M.R. James. Ever wonder why ghosts wear sheets? Read the short story, "Oh, Whistle and I'll come to you my lad" and you will understand why. Creepy stories - Lovecraftian, yes but with a wry humor and a more concise style...Other good reads in this book include, "The Rose Garden", "Number 13", "A school tale" and Count Magnus. Happy Hauntings!
Oct 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
I loved this book. I think that it is hard to find really good ghost stories. These are great! If you like Victorian fiction, you should love these.
Bernadette Donnelly
Aug 02, 2017 rated it liked it
A decent set of ghost stories but they are lacking compared to others I have been reading recently.
Jun 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
This slim volume (one of two) collects what is generally considered the cream of the crop of James's fictional output, together with an introduction and end-notes by weird fiction scholar ST Joshi. Joshi's annotations for both this and its companion volume, The Hunted Dolls House, aren't quite as in-depth as those for his corresponding Blackwood, Dunsany and Lovecraft volumes, though they certainly gave me a deeper appreciation and enjoyment of James's work, and for that reason are still worth s ...more
Oct 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
I'd been meaning to read something of M.R. James's for a few years now, and since this month I wanted to read only horror and/or ghost stories, this seemed like it was finally the time. I thoroughly enjoyed them all, a few in particular, and they all in their own ways ended up having a tone of slight but wonderful humor to them I didn't come in expecting. But, most importantly, they are all genuinely creepy. I think "The Mezzotint" might be my favorite of this collection, but it's a tough choice ...more
Jun 03, 2013 rated it really liked it

"Thou shalt seek me in the morning, and I shall not be."

Spooky, cosy and sometimes chilling. MR James is a master of the ghost story (though not as terrifying as Lovecraft) and manages to set the perfect mood to all of his short stories that are all of a surprisingly superb quality. That said I didn't love them all equally but "Lost hearts", "Casting the runes" and "Oh Whistle, and I'll come for you, my lad" will stay with me for a loooong time...

"Quis est iste qui veint"
Dec 30, 2007 rated it liked it
A guy finds a mysterious object, upsets a sacred place, or angers a crazy person. Then bad, scary stuff happens. Eventually he dies. Or never speaks of the event again...The stories are good, but generally seem to follow the same plot, outlined above. Plus, its totally obvious that this is a late 19th/early20th century male author. The only women who show up are young maid servants or nagging wives...
Aug 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Just can't put the book down. With the rich knowledge of a Cambridge biblical scholar and the half real half faked England geography, the author weaved the vivid and attractive scenes of dark, monstrous, unspeakable and abhorrent ghost world. The "creatures" in the book are imaginative and won't even be dreamed in the worst nightmares. Oh did I mention the *dreams*? Good luck at night...
нєνєℓ  ¢ανα
Jul 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Ruby  Reviews Books
Oct 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Chilling tales with a Cambridge twist.

Regarded by Lovecraft as one of the few creative voices in Ghost Stories, this book is a collection of some of Montague Rhodes James’ most famous tales. Well known as a medieval researcher, James’ hobby of Christmastide ghost stories overshadows his scholarship, and came to reflect a pivotal shift in English ghost tales from gothic trappings to more contemporary literary horror. His stories tend to contrast modern or even banal elements with more ancient e
This is the kind of horror I remember reading in my younger years - originally published in 1931, they are spine-tingling to be sure. I read up on the author (Montague Rhodes - no wonder he used his initials!) and discovered that he originally wrote these stories to be read aloud in the tradition of Christmas Eve spooky stories. The stories are mostly rural settings and would probably be considered "old-fashioned" by today's youth and not at all like the writings of King and Koontz. Personally, ...more
Oct 15, 2018 rated it liked it
A fun, different read for me. M. R. James wrote a bunch of short ghost stories and this book is a compilation of several of them.

I wouldn’t call these stories scary by any sense of the word, though at one point in time they may have been. Instead, I’d say they’re a little eerie and a lot of unexplained supernatural coincidences and the hearing of voices.

If you’re wanting some spooky classics and tired of the same old Stoker and Shelley stories, Is recommend it. Also, several BBC short films of
Sep 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Top notch gothic ghostery. Loved the stories and got some genuine chills. The standout element for me is James' obvious love of archaic language styles . His knack for mimicking 17th and 18th century language is very apparent and he utilises it brilliantly. Lovecraftians and Poeians , I recommend this highly .
Will Fagan
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
These stories are still capable of terrifying, both a hundred years later and after several readings. Personal favorite: 'Whistle and I'll Come to You', possibly one of the best ghost stories ever written, in my humble opinion. The book suffers from the omission of James McBryde's original illustrations (with the exception of the cover image, a scene from 'Whistle and I'll Come to You'.
Nov 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2017, fiction, 3-star
M.R. James' stories are no doubt enjoyable but they do get a bit repetitive after awhile. Scholar finds weird thing, ghost ensues. This edition was so heavily annotated that I found it took me out of the stories. Some of it was helpful context and some was just distracting. Would certainly read more M.R. James but likely would do so in amongst other works as well so it would break it up a bit.
Feb 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: short-stories
I thought MR James' stories were supposed to be spooky??

I've been far more 'spooked' by the likes of 'Macbeth', 'The Owl Service' (Alan Garner), and 'Z for Zachariah', than anything in this collection.
David Williams
Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The master of the ghost story. It has been an inspiration for me. I am sure I shall revisit this book from time to time.
Jun 28, 2018 rated it liked it
3.75 stars
Бранимир Събев
Jan 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Поредното съкровище от кашоните. След прочитането на "Граф Магнус" лично и твърдо съм убеден, че най-добрите автори в света са британците и точка по въпроса. Стилът на Монтагю Роудс Джеймс и изящен и изтънчен, без излишни кървища, а чист хорър, страховито повествование и вледеняващи тръпки. Е, на моменти подробната описателност е мъъъничко излишна, но все пак книгата излиза за пръв път през 1931-а. М. Р. Джеймс пише като типичен британец от старата школа своите разкази за призраци, с една особен ...more
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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

Other books in the series

The Complete Ghost Stories of M.R. James (2 books)
  • The Haunted Dolls' House and Other Ghost Stories