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    The art of Dr. James is by no means haphazard, and in the preface to one of his collections he has formulated three very sound rules for
    macabre composition. A ghost story, he believes, should have a familiar setting in the modern period, in order to approach closely the
    reader's sphere of experience. Its spectral phenomena, moreover, should be malevolent rather than beneficent; since fear is the emotion
    primarily to be excited. And finally, the technical patois of 'occultism' or pseudo-science ought carefully to be avoided; lest the charm of
    casual verisimilitude be smothered in unconvincing pedantry.
        -H.P. Lovecraft

Though less well remembered today than some other authors of Gothic ghost stories--like J. S. [John Sheridan] LeFanu, whose work he edited,  Bram Stoker, and Henry James (no relation), or their successors H.P. Lovecraft, Algernon Blackwood, and the like--M. R. James is one of the great early horror writers.  This story, which concerns a mysterious and unpleasant Mr. Karswell, who takes creepy exception to a negative review of his book, The Truth of Alchemy, shows off James's talents to good effect, combining genuine scares with a droll wit.  But what makes this edition particularly appealing are the 12 splendid black-and-white drawings by Jeff White--an artist with whom I am not familiar and about whom I could find nearly nothing on the Web--that accompany the text.  This slender volume seems certain to get any reader looking for more stories by Mr. James and more books illustrated by the estimable Mr. White


Grade: (A)



See also:

Book-related and General Links:
    -James, M. R. (Lit Gothic)
    -ETEXT : Casting the Runes
    -ETEXT : Casting the Runes
    -ETEXT : A School Story (M.R. James)
    -ETEXT : A Warning to the Curious by Montague Rhodes James
    -ETEXTS : The Ghost Stories of M. R. James
    -ETEXTS : Ghost Stories by M. R. James
    -M. R. James (Classic Horror and Fantasy Page)
    -Ghosts and Scholars : Website of the magazine devoted to the appreciation and study of Victorian ghost-stories
    -REVIEW : of A Pleasing Terror : The Complete Supernatural Writings of M. R. James General Editors: Christopher Roden and Barbara Roden (Gahan Wilson, Realms of Fantasy)
    -REVIEW : of The Weird Works of M.R. James (Clark Ashton Smith, The Fantasy Fan, February 1934)
    -REVIEW : of The Five Jars (Paul Di Filippo, Fantasy & Science Fiction)

    -FILMOGRAPHY : M.R. James (
    -INFO : Night of the Demon (1957) (
    -INFO : Night of the Demon (1957)
    -ESSAY : Ghoul Britannia : Night of the Demon : Notes by Roger Keightley

    -Jeff White - Bibliography Summary