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The story of Paxton, an antiquarian and archaeologist who holidays in "Seaburgh" and inadvertently stumbles across one of the lost crowns of Anglia, which legendarily protect the country from invasion. Montague Rhodes James was a noted British mediaeval scholar and provost of King's College, Cambridge (1905-1918) and of Eton College (1918-1936). He is best remembered for hi The story of Paxton, an antiquarian and archaeologist who holidays in "Seaburgh" and inadvertently stumbles across one of the lost crowns of Anglia, which legendarily protect the country from invasion. Montague Rhodes James was a noted British mediaeval scholar and provost of King's College, Cambridge (1905-1918) and of Eton College (1918-1936). He is 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 dispensing with many of the formal Gothic trappings of his predecessors, and replacing them with more realistic contemporary settings. "Montague Rhodes James has an intelligent and scientific knowledge of human nerves and feelings; and knows just how to apportion statement, imagery, and subtle suggestions in order to secure the best results with his readers." HP Lovecraft. Actor David Suchet is best known for his definitive portrayal of Hercule Poirot, the Belgian detective created by the legendary mystery author Agatha Christie, in a number of international television productions. He narrates his story in Poirot and Me.


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The story of Paxton, an antiquarian and archaeologist who holidays in "Seaburgh" and inadvertently stumbles across one of the lost crowns of Anglia, which legendarily protect the country from invasion. Montague Rhodes James was a noted British mediaeval scholar and provost of King's College, Cambridge (1905-1918) and of Eton College (1918-1936). He is best remembered for hi The story of Paxton, an antiquarian and archaeologist who holidays in "Seaburgh" and inadvertently stumbles across one of the lost crowns of Anglia, which legendarily protect the country from invasion. Montague Rhodes James was a noted British mediaeval scholar and provost of King's College, Cambridge (1905-1918) and of Eton College (1918-1936). He is 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 dispensing with many of the formal Gothic trappings of his predecessors, and replacing them with more realistic contemporary settings. "Montague Rhodes James has an intelligent and scientific knowledge of human nerves and feelings; and knows just how to apportion statement, imagery, and subtle suggestions in order to secure the best results with his readers." HP Lovecraft. Actor David Suchet is best known for his definitive portrayal of Hercule Poirot, the Belgian detective created by the legendary mystery author Agatha Christie, in a number of international television productions. He narrates his story in Poirot and Me.

30 review for A Warning to the Curious: Ghost Stories

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bill Kerwin

    This, the last of M.R. James' short story collections, is also his least. Only two of its six stories are memorable. "The Doll's House" is a poor imitation of "The Mezzotint," replacing the judiciously brief glimpses of horror in the earlier story with a detailed description of ghostly doings as tedious as an Elizabethan dumb-show. "An Evening's Entertainment" is undistinguished, "The Neighbor's Landmark" begins with a few thrills but concludes without any, and "The Uncommon Prayerbook," althoug This, the last of M.R. James' short story collections, is also his least. Only two of its six stories are memorable. "The Doll's House" is a poor imitation of "The Mezzotint," replacing the judiciously brief glimpses of horror in the earlier story with a detailed description of ghostly doings as tedious as an Elizabethan dumb-show. "An Evening's Entertainment" is undistinguished, "The Neighbor's Landmark" begins with a few thrills but concludes without any, and "The Uncommon Prayerbook," although it introduces a captivating bibliographical rarity rooted in the Loyalist backlash against Cromwell, and ends in genuine creepiness, is nonetheless marred by snobbishness and more than a hint of anti-Semitism. The two remaining tales, however, are very fine. "A Warning to the Curious" is James' last masterpiece, which not only uses the Jamesian theme of the "ghostly treasure guardian" to great effect, and features a stirring patriotic legend, but is brought memorably--flawlessly--to a terrifying conclusion. In spite of its excellence, however, I recall "A View from the Hill" with greater unease. This narrative concerning a necromancer's binoculars, which can view--in all their former completeness--the ruined medieval buildings of the surrounding countryside, contains a few well-chosen, nasty details that make this story forever stick in the memory.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bionic Jean

    **Please note that the title story of this collection A Warning to the Curious is reviewed separately here. This is an overview of the collection.** This is M. R. James' final collection of Ghost stories, published in 1925, although five of the six had previously been published in magazines. By now his stories had become very popular. The title story, which gives its name to the whole collection, is one of his best known works, and defines the ethos and ideology behind M. R. James' stories. Despi **Please note that the title story of this collection A Warning to the Curious is reviewed separately here. This is an overview of the collection.** This is M. R. James' final collection of Ghost stories, published in 1925, although five of the six had previously been published in magazines. By now his stories had become very popular. The title story, which gives its name to the whole collection, is one of his best known works, and defines the ethos and ideology behind M. R. James' stories. Despite warnings, his characters will insist on meddling with the unknown. In particular scholars, who often tend to feature as the main character in an M. R. James story, tend to be arrogant, and underestimate the potency of mysterious ancient objects, and of the supernatural secrets they might hold and unleash. Hence, A Warning to the Curious. The stories in this volume are: "The Haunted Dolls' House" "The Uncommon Prayer-Book" "A Neighbour's Landmark" "A View From a Hill" "A Warning to the Curious" "An Evening's Entertainment" Some stories are reviewed separately.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Riju Ganguly

    Almost all of these stories were wordy to the point where they lose the reader. Nevertheless, the maestro had some tricks up his sleeve. Once they got unleashed, shudders followed.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    Some brilliant tales in here: The Living Doll House, the saxon crownes and the turning prayer books. All stories start as quite harmless lores but then they gain speed and become real page turners. If you like folklorists turning up secrets of the past this is the right stuff for you. Excellently written!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    From BBC radio 4 - 15 Minute Drama: by the master of the ghost story, M.R. James. The unearthing of an Anglo Saxon crown in the dunes unleashes supernatural forces for unfortunate medievalist Paxton. dramatised by Neil Brand M.R. James ..... Mark Gatiss Paxton ..... Paul Heath Jeffers ..... Michael Bertenshaw Long ..... Tony Turner Vicarl ..... Ewan Bailey Molly ..... Saffron Coomber Woman ..... Clare Corbett Director: David Hunter https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000... From BBC radio 4 - 15 Minute Drama: by the master of the ghost story, M.R. James. The unearthing of an Anglo Saxon crown in the dunes unleashes supernatural forces for unfortunate medievalist Paxton. dramatised by Neil Brand M.R. James ..... Mark Gatiss Paxton ..... Paul Heath Jeffers ..... Michael Bertenshaw Long ..... Tony Turner Vicarl ..... Ewan Bailey Molly ..... Saffron Coomber Woman ..... Clare Corbett Director: David Hunter https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Beverly

    Although I have read other of his ghost stories that were marvelous; all the ones in this collection were a little disappointing, except for "The Mezzotint". A print collector purchased one and precedes to notice that every day it changes a little. It is a picture of a country house in which a murder took place. I won't give away what he sees in the print, but it is eerie and quite gave me the creeps. I still think of it with a shudder and I read this in 2010. Michael Chabon believes that Victor Although I have read other of his ghost stories that were marvelous; all the ones in this collection were a little disappointing, except for "The Mezzotint". A print collector purchased one and precedes to notice that every day it changes a little. It is a picture of a country house in which a murder took place. I won't give away what he sees in the print, but it is eerie and quite gave me the creeps. I still think of it with a shudder and I read this in 2010. Michael Chabon believes that Victorian writers are really good at ghost stories, because they were the first to sense the chaos and terror which underlies the ordinary and that this theme still resonates to this day.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/... A classic spine-chiller by M. R James, the 'father' of the modern ghost story, set on the windswept Suffolk coast, in which an amateur archaeologist pays the ultimate price for his curiousity. Blurbs - In 'A Warning to the Curious', an amateur archaelologist from London, arrives in the seaside town of Seaburgh to search for the legendary silver Crown of Anglia which is believed to be hidden along the sandy shores of the North Sea. His research uncovers the http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/... A classic spine-chiller by M. R James, the 'father' of the modern ghost story, set on the windswept Suffolk coast, in which an amateur archaeologist pays the ultimate price for his curiousity. Blurbs - In 'A Warning to the Curious', an amateur archaelologist from London, arrives in the seaside town of Seaburgh to search for the legendary silver Crown of Anglia which is believed to be hidden along the sandy shores of the North Sea. His research uncovers the tale of the late William Ager, the guardian of the crown, which leads him to unearth the ancient relic on a remote beach. However, having made his discovery, he becomes convinced that he is being followed, and desperate to escape the ghostly presence, decides his only hope is to return the crown to the desolate beach where it was unearthed - with tragic and terrifying consequences. M R James (1862-1936) was a writer and scholar whose ghost stories are widely regarded as some of the best in English literature. He spent much of his childhood on the East Anglian coast, and the fictional town of 'Seaburg', in which this story is set, is based on the Suffolk coastal town of Aldeburgh. Read by Alex Jennings Produced and abridged by Justine Willett.

  8. 5 out of 5

    John Yelverton

    In this ghost story, a man discovers one of England's national treasures, but the guardians of that treasure want it put back. In this ghost story, a man discovers one of England's national treasures, but the guardians of that treasure want it put back.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Groves

    A suitably creepy collection of stories by a man considered a master of the genre. Written in the first few decades of the 20th century, they typically fall into a pattern in which a gentleman scholar comes into unexpected contact with some supernatural menace when studying old manuscripts, visiting a historical structure such as an old church, or engaging in a bit of amateur archaeology. Perhaps they're a bit tame compared to some of today's horror stories, but several of the tales in this coll A suitably creepy collection of stories by a man considered a master of the genre. Written in the first few decades of the 20th century, they typically fall into a pattern in which a gentleman scholar comes into unexpected contact with some supernatural menace when studying old manuscripts, visiting a historical structure such as an old church, or engaging in a bit of amateur archaeology. Perhaps they're a bit tame compared to some of today's horror stories, but several of the tales in this collection are often mentioned in lists of all-time great ghost stories. Reading the entire collection at once reinforces how much James followed a similar outline for each story and may make the reader wish for more variation, but individually or a few at a time they're likely to keep you turning the pages.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Julian

    I'm late to the party, certainly. These are terrific stories, full of color, tone, and genuinely creepy. Despite their real atmospheric creepiness. It seems clear that these influenced Lovecraft as well, although they are quite different at times, with James's dry black humor and more-British-than-a-mere-New-Englander-could-ever-be tone and trappings. They're also compact with a great economy of language and plot, and I'm sure they will be well worth re-reading as they shift narrators sometimes I'm late to the party, certainly. These are terrific stories, full of color, tone, and genuinely creepy. Despite their real atmospheric creepiness. It seems clear that these influenced Lovecraft as well, although they are quite different at times, with James's dry black humor and more-British-than-a-mere-New-Englander-could-ever-be tone and trappings. They're also compact with a great economy of language and plot, and I'm sure they will be well worth re-reading as they shift narrators sometimes several times in the course of a story (as Lovecraft does too.) My only regret is not having been reading and absorbing these excellent stories for decades already.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tom Meade

    I thought I should point out that several reviewers have mistaken this for the volume A Warning to the Curious published in James' lifetime, when it's actually a selection of James' better stories compiled by Ruth Rendell. In any case, I really enjoyed this. The stuffiness of the prose just makes the oddity of the ghostly manifestations stand out even more. That said, these stories tended to give me a pleasant chill rather than genuinely frightening me. I've decided that I quite like M. R. James I thought I should point out that several reviewers have mistaken this for the volume A Warning to the Curious published in James' lifetime, when it's actually a selection of James' better stories compiled by Ruth Rendell. In any case, I really enjoyed this. The stuffiness of the prose just makes the oddity of the ghostly manifestations stand out even more. That said, these stories tended to give me a pleasant chill rather than genuinely frightening me. I've decided that I quite like M. R. James, but I do wish he'd gone a little further in these stories. Possibly some of his other work is a bit more gruesome.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Milne

    A very strange and mysterious story, one of the first on my gothic module that’s actually gave me chills. The importance I think lies with the mix of narrators, it’s interesting to take note at the beginning of who is telling who the story and whose telling stories within the story- it can get a bit confusing. Also the path and the tracks - the idea of being followed is really spooky and very relatable, the idea of being observed is quite scary in itself. Bit ambiguous whether the story is about A very strange and mysterious story, one of the first on my gothic module that’s actually gave me chills. The importance I think lies with the mix of narrators, it’s interesting to take note at the beginning of who is telling who the story and whose telling stories within the story- it can get a bit confusing. Also the path and the tracks - the idea of being followed is really spooky and very relatable, the idea of being observed is quite scary in itself. Bit ambiguous whether the story is about a curse or a crazy man

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mitch

    This is a collection of scary short stories by a guy who wrote in a now-antiquated style that favors implied horror over overt gore, and intelligent use of language over facile short shock wording. Horror is not my favorite genre, but I'd recommend this one. There are some grisly bits, but they happen mostly in the shadows and are all the scarier for it. This is a collection of scary short stories by a guy who wrote in a now-antiquated style that favors implied horror over overt gore, and intelligent use of language over facile short shock wording. Horror is not my favorite genre, but I'd recommend this one. There are some grisly bits, but they happen mostly in the shadows and are all the scarier for it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Eggp

    Poking their nose in some people just can't resist where do the clues lead? Poking their nose in some people just can't resist where do the clues lead?

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michael Reffold

    Good writing but fatally unfrightening. Read for Halloween but no scares to be found.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mike M

    A very enjoyable collection of ghost stories, and yet the stories seemed somehow less engaging than other works by MR James.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    A fun, uncanny story about an ancient crown, with terrific narration by Derek Jacobi. Entertaining and enjoyable.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Ullmer

    "Its the body that must suffer" Started out slow but grew very intriguing towards the end. Such a dark, sad story. "Its the body that must suffer" Started out slow but grew very intriguing towards the end. Such a dark, sad story.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Nila

    I could hardly wait to read the next M.R. James book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Electa

    I enjoyed reading this astonishing work by M.R. James.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Advenient

    The concept is really cool and it was very easy to read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Shamika

    Lots of research and knowledge.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Freddie

    The characters were well developed and it was interesting.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lucarell

    A great start and one defiantly worth reading.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    A brilliant piece of work.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Isabel (kittiwake)

    It became plain to me after a few minutes that this visitor of ours was in rather a state of fidgets or nerves, which communicated itself to me, and so I put away my writing and turned to at engaging him in talk. After some remarks, which I forget, he became rather confidential. 'You'll think it very odd of me' (this was the sort of way he began), 'but the fact is I've had something of a shock.' Well, I recommended a drink of some cheering kind, and we had it. The waiter coming in made an interru It became plain to me after a few minutes that this visitor of ours was in rather a state of fidgets or nerves, which communicated itself to me, and so I put away my writing and turned to at engaging him in talk. After some remarks, which I forget, he became rather confidential. 'You'll think it very odd of me' (this was the sort of way he began), 'but the fact is I've had something of a shock.' Well, I recommended a drink of some cheering kind, and we had it. The waiter coming in made an interruption (and I thought our young man seemed very jumpy when the door opened), but after a while he got back to his woes again. There was nobody he knew in the place, and he did happen to know who we both were (it turned out there was some common acquaintance in town), and really he did want a word of advice, if we didn't mind. Of course we both said: 'By all means,' or 'Not at all,' and Long put away his cards. And we settled down to hear what his difficulty was. The title of "A Warning to the Curious" could apply to many of M. R. James' stories, and it is quite a similar story to "Oh Whistle and I'll Come to You, My Lad", with the protagonist stirring up trouble for himself by digging up an artifact and then trying to put things right be returning it to its resting place, although Paxton is searching for the object he digs up, rather than coming across it accidentally. One thing I really like about both stories is how the older men the protagonists ask for advice are so willing to help a young man in trouble, however unlikely the tale he tells. The Haunted Dolls' House was one of the stories by famous authors that were written for Queen Mary's Dolls House, bound into tiny books and placed in bookcases in the dolls' house library and M. R. James comments at the end of the story that he is worried that it is too similar to his earlier story "The Mezzotint" so it must have worried him, but I don't think it is similar enough to be a problem. Hills feature prominently in several of these stories (whether haunted by something that screams, a viewpoint from which to view the countryside, the burial place of an ancient treasure or the site of a giant chalk figure cut into the turf).

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sean

    'A Waring to the Curious' was my first introduction to M.R. James and I am a bit on the fence. I find his stories to be believable as James dose not stray far into the world of the paranormal or ghostly apparitions but tends more to stick to the horros on earth and fears most of us have such as spiders etc. I found them enjoyable, easy to read but not something I would rave about. As a whole a good read to pass the time but not on the edge of your seat horror or particularly mind bending. 5/10 'A Waring to the Curious' was my first introduction to M.R. James and I am a bit on the fence. I find his stories to be believable as James dose not stray far into the world of the paranormal or ghostly apparitions but tends more to stick to the horros on earth and fears most of us have such as spiders etc. I found them enjoyable, easy to read but not something I would rave about. As a whole a good read to pass the time but not on the edge of your seat horror or particularly mind bending. 5/10

  28. 5 out of 5

    JoAnn

    This contains "A Warning to the Curious" and "The Casting of the Runes. " I am glad I ran across this author. His stories are freaky. I particularly enjoyed "The Casting of the Runes." ISBN 9781780001005 Another collection has "A School Story. " This contains "A Warning to the Curious" and "The Casting of the Runes. " I am glad I ran across this author. His stories are freaky. I particularly enjoyed "The Casting of the Runes." ISBN 9781780001005 Another collection has "A School Story. "

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ken B

    This is the fourth published collection of MR James horror short stories. There were several themes consistent throughout the four volumes, all of which should be considered must reads for fans of the genre. 4 STARS

  30. 5 out of 5

    Stasha

    I would classify this as part of the stories known as the fantastic tales in British literature. The audiotape only contained 2 stories but I'm tempted to get more of M.R. James ghostly tales. I would classify this as part of the stories known as the fantastic tales in British literature. The audiotape only contained 2 stories but I'm tempted to get more of M.R. James ghostly tales.

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