In the most recent post of a series titled, A Brief Survey Of The Short Story, Chris Power addresses the work of MR James. Here’s just a quick teaser for you:
Much of James’s skill as a writer resides in his talent for evoking a sense of place – particularly when writing about the East Anglian countryside he knew as a child – and an often perfect judgment of what to reveal and when. The stories thrive, too, on their scholarly depth and his knowledge of folklore. His characters are for the most part antiquarians who, through intellectual curiosity, stumble into the unknown. Frequently James will wrap a web of quotations, footnotes and references to historical documents – both fictional and real – around his stories (he begins one with a block of Latin), giving them not only an air of authenticity but also an essay-like quality, so that the expertly handled intrusion of horror arrives all the more powerfully.
If you have any interest in the history of the ghost story, and particularly the work of MR James, you’ll find this well worth your time: MR James