Casting the Runes and Other Ghost Stories

By M. R. James; Michael Cox | Go to book overview

APPENDIX
M. R. JAMES ON GHOST STORIES

(i) from the Preface to Ghost Stories of an Antiquary (1904)

I WROTE these stories at long intervals, and most of them were read to patient friends, usually at the season of Christmas. One of these friends [James McBryde] offered to illustrate them, and it was agreed that, if he would do that, I would consider the question of publishing them. Four pictures he completed, which will be found in this volume, and then, very quickly and unexpectedly, he was taken away. This is the reason why the greater part of the stories are not provided with illustrations. Those who knew the artist will understand how much I wished to give a permanent form even to a fragment of his work; others will appreciate the fact that here a remembrance is made of one in whom many friendships centred. The stories themselves do not make any very exalted claim. If any of them succeed in causing their readers to feel pleasantly uncomfortable when walking along a solitary road at nightfall, or sitting over a dying fire in the small hours, my purpose in writing them will have been attained.

(ii) from the Preface to More Ghost Stories of an Antiquary (1911)

Some years ago I promised to publish a second volume of ghost stories when a sufficient number of them should have been accumulated. That time has arrived, and here is the volume. It is, perhaps, unnecessary to warn the critic that in evolving the stories I have not been possessed by that austere sense of the responsibility of authorship which is demanded of the writer of fiction in this generation; or that I have not sought to embody in them any well-considered scheme of 'psychical' theory. To be sure, I have my ideas as to how a ghost story ought to be laid out if it is to be effective. I think that, as a rule, the setting should be fairly familiar and the majority of the characters and their talk such as you may meet or hear any day. A ghost story of which the scene is laid in the twelfth or thirteenth century

-337-

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Casting the Runes and Other Ghost Stories
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Introduction xi
  • Note on the Text xxxi
  • Select Bibliography xxxiii
  • A Chronology of M. R. James xxxvi
  • 'Casting the Runes' and Other Ghost Stories xxxix
  • Canon Alberic's Scrap-Book 1
  • The Mezzotint 14
  • Number 13 26
  • Count Magnus 43
  • 'Oh, Whistle, and I'Ll Come to You, My Lad' 57
  • The Treasure of Abbot Thomas 78
  • A School Story 97
  • The Rose Garden 105
  • The Tractate Middoth 117
  • Casting the Runes 135
  • The Stalls of Barchester Cathedral 157
  • Mr Humphreys and His Inheritance 172
  • The Diary of Mr Poynter 199
  • An Episode of Cathedral History 210
  • The Uncommon Prayer-Book 228
  • A Neighbour's Landmark 244
  • A Warning to the Curious 257
  • Rats 275
  • The Experiment 281
  • The Malice of Inanimate Objects 288
  • A Vignette 293
  • Explanatory Notes 299
  • Appendix - M. R. James on Ghost Stories 337
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