Warnings To The Curious: A Sheaf of Criticism on M. R. James


  • Edited by S. T. Joshi and Rosemary Pardoe
  • July 2007
  • ISBN: 0-9771734-8-8, ISBN13: 978-0-9771734-8-8
  • Paperback


International Horror Guild Award Nominee (2008)


British writer Montague Rhodes James (1862-1936) is the most influential author of ghost stories in literary history, but his work has not received the attention it deserves. Warnings to the Curious, the first volume on James to be devoted entirely to his ghostly fiction, features a wealth of material old and new about the scholarly author and his supernatural writing. The volume opens with memoirs of James by such friends as Stephen Gaselee and Shane Leslie, and early criticism by H. P. Lovecraft, Mary Butts, and others.

Simon MacCulloch contributes an exhaustive discussion of the theme of "forbidden knowledge" in James and Lovecraft, while such critics as Ron Weighell, David G. Rowlands, Jacqueline Simpson, and Steve Duffy probe specific aspects of James's ghost stories. Studies of individual tales by such leading Jamesians as Helen Grant, Rosemary Pardoe, Martin Hughes, and Nicholas Connell round out the volume. Original essays by Scott Connors, Steven J. Mariconda, Jim Rockhill, and John Alfred Taylor make this volume a must for all devotees of James and his work.

S. T. Joshi is a leading authority on H. P. Lovecraft and supernatural fiction, and the coeditor of Supernatural Literature of the World: An Encyclopedia (2005). Rosemary Pardoe is the foremost authority on M. R. James and the editor of Ghosts & Scholars and the compiler of a comprehensive bibliography of James.

Table of contents

Introduction by S. T. Joshi

I. Some Notes on Biography

  • Montague Rhodes James: 1862-1936 (1936) [5461], Stephen Gaselee
  • Montague Rhodes James (1966) [4653], Shane Leslie
  • The Strangeness Present: M. R. James’s Suffolk (1986) [1784], Norman Scarfe
  • M. R. James and Livermere (1998) [2400], Michael Cox

II. General Studies

  • Supernatural Horror in Literature (1927) [extract] [1628], H. P. Lovecraft
  • The Art of Montague James (1934) [6413], Mary Butts
  • The Ghost Stories of Montague Rhodes James (1947) [4248], L. J. Lloyd
  • The Toad in the Study: M. R. James, H. P. Lovecraft and Forbidden Knowledge (1995-97) [17,616], Simon MacCulloch

III. Some Special Topics

  • On Not Letting Them Lie: Moral Significance in the Ghost Stories of M. R. James (1982) [4197], Michael A. Mason
  • Dark Devotions: M. R. James and the Magical Tradition (1984), Ron Weighell
  • M. R. James’s Women (1993) [1926], David G. Rowlands
  • “The Rules of Folklore” in the Ghost Stories of M. R. James (1997) [8501], Jacqueline Simpson
  • “A Warning to the Curious”: Victorian Science and the Awful Unconscious in M. R. James’s Ghost Stories (1998) [5793], Brian Cowlishaw
  • “They’ve Got Him! In the Trees!”: M. R. James and Sylvan Dread (1999) [2963], Steve Duffy
  • Homosexual Panic and the English Ghost Story: M. R. James and Others (2002) [5343], Mike Pincombe
  • “If I’m Not Careful”: Innocents and Not-So-Innocents in the Stories of M. R. James (2007) [3524], John Alfred Taylor

IV. Studies of Individual Tales

  • The Nature of the Beast: The Demonology of Canon Alberic’s Scrap-book” (2004), Helen Grant
  • A Haunting Presence (1999) [1475], C. E. Ward
  • “A Wonderful Book”: George MacDonald and “The Ash-Tree” (2003) [2390], Rosemary Pardoe
  • Who Was Count Magnus? Notes towards an Identification (2001) [1581], Rosemary Pardoe
  • A Haunting Vision: M. R. James and the Ashbridge Stained Glass (2000) [1349], Nicholas Connell
  • A Maze of Secrets in a Story by M. R. James (1993) [8189], Martin Hughes
  • Thin Ghosts: Notes toward a Jamesian Rhetoric (2007) [7118], Jim Rockhill
  • Nightmares of Punch and Judy in Ruskin and M. R. James (1996) [1844], Roger Craik
  • An Elucidation (?) of the Plot of M. R. James’s “Two Doctors” (1990) [8094], Lance Arney
  • Landmarks and Shrieking Ghosts (1997) [1887], Jacqueline Simpson [with an Addendum by Rosemary Pardoe]
  • Bibliography
  • Acknowledgments
  • Index

Total (so far): 97,035 words

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