M. R. James

escargot

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The documentary features clips from old BBC M.R. James dramatisations.

I saw them all as a teenager and it was great to see the murdered children from Lost Hearts once again! :D

Every bit as eerie as I remembered. :shock:
 

GNC

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I didn't see the BBC ones from the 1970s at the time, because either I wasn't around or they were past my bedtime, but I have caught up with a few on repeats and DVD, and I can understand why they're so revered, really marvellous stuff. A Warning to the Curious is probably the masterpiece of the lot.

My introduction to James was the Robert Powell readings in the 80s on BBC 2 (now out on DVD, I notice), and it was a good one.

It was nice to hear the author was a jolly decent sort in the doc.
 

escargot

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I'm wondering if there're any plans to repeat the older M.R. James programmes as they're obviously all still around.

There were other excellent supernatural/thriller BBC series in the '70s, such as BBC2's Menace. That is where I saw the brilliant Boys And Girls Come Out To Play, where a schoolgirl sees ghostly Victorian children playing in the street and eventually adds a classmate to their number... :shock:
 

OneWingedBird

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That was what always scared me shitless about the wailing well... the idea that there really might be a fate worse than death. :shock:
 

ramonmercado

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My introduction to MR James was the 1968 Whistle and I'll Come to You. Terrified me when I was a kid.
 

GNC

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escargot1 said:
I'm wondering if there're any plans to repeat the older M.R. James programmes as they're obviously all still around.

The BFI put a lot out on DVD in time for Christmas this year, but I don't think there are plans to repeat them on TV, alas.
 

Spookdaddy

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This is a bit cheeky - as it's not specifically a Jamesian thing - but it does give me a chance to bump my previous recommendation of Charles Palliser's thoroughly enjoyable and satisfyingly atmospheric novel, The Unburied. As I said, not a ghost story as such - but if Palliser didn't have MR James just a little bit in mind when he wrote that book, then I'd be very surprised.

Anyway, recently read his latest, Rustication - A Novel. A 'gothic puzzler' which unfolds through the diary of seventeen year old Richard Shenstone, recently sent down from Cambridge for initially unspecified transgressions. Full of twists and uncertainties - as a reader you don't really have a clue whether Shenstone - a thoroughly unreliable narrator (but you're never quite sure whether by art or circumstance), really doesn't have a clue what's going on, or if the whole diary is an intricate piece of distraction. Quite slow burning but great reading for a blustery night.

The landscape is also reminiscent of James's coastal Suffolk - and very well drawn. (That's not to say it is Suffolk; I may be wrong but I don't think Palliser specifies precisely where the novel's are set and I think the place names are all fictional - the descriptions also evoke the atmospheric landscape of Romney Marsh.)

A more thorough review here.
 

sherbetbizarre

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Yithian

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Totally in agreement - he's a superlatively good reader with the perfect voice for the subject matter.
 

Spookdaddy

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Totally in agreement - he's a superlatively good reader with the perfect voice for the subject matter.

Those recordings have been my constant companion for many years - even more so than the similarly excellent Craftsman Audio collection.

I suspect that the only thing that might come close for me would be a similar collection of the ghost stories of EF Benson - but they are still out there waiting for the right voice, and someone to introduce the two.
 
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escargot

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I dunno, I often listen to the Librivox versions of the M.R. James canon read by Peter Yearsley and they're perfectly satisfactory.

Posh old blokes' voices get on my tits. They sound affected, as if they're trying to come across as extra-jowly.

Yearlsey does it brilliantly. He sounds natural and can do the ordinary characters especially well, such as the omnibus crew and the gardeners. He is also great at the comedy passages. Posh narrators can sound scornful rather than funny.

Dunno who Yearsley is - an Essex taxi driver, maybe? - but he has my vote.
 

Coastaljames

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I dunno, I often listen to the Librivox versions of the M.R. James canon read by Peter Yearsley and they're perfectly satisfactory.

Posh old blokes' voices get on my tits. They sound affected, as if they're trying to come across as extra-jowly.

Yearlsey does it brilliantly. He sounds natural and can do the ordinary characters especially well, such as the omnibus crew and the gardeners. He is also great at the comedy passages. Posh narrators can sound scornful rather than funny.

Dunno who Yearsley is - an Essex taxi driver, maybe? - but he has my vote.

Never really got involved, prefer reading the stories.

Small but might be worth a look - http://www.iambik.com/narrators/peter-yearsley/
 

escargot

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I often listen to the Librivox readings at bedtime.

As I may have mentioned, the bit in Casting the Runes where the loathsome creatures crawl among the horrified children goes well with drifting off and having a cat nuzzle your face... :eek:
 

Spookdaddy

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I dunno, I often listen to the Librivox versions of the M.R. James canon read by Peter Yearsley and they're perfectly satisfactory.

Posh old blokes' voices get on my tits. They sound affected, as if they're trying to come across as extra-jowly...

I wouldn't have said that either Hordern or Collings was overly posh, but I do actually find Robert Lloyd Parry's readings to be a bit plummy and overtheatrical; I suppose it's probably a case of de gustibus. (And, to be fair, his performances are probably more theatrical because they take place in a more obviously theatrical context - so, shut up, Spook.)

I love the idea of Librivox, but find a fair proportion of the readings terribly turgid (and I have to confess that I find Yearsley's delivery on the clunky side). There are a few EF Benson's, and a couple of readers of the same, that I really like. (I also found one that was so badly read it was almost funny.)

Never really got involved, prefer reading the stories...

Back in the day I would have said the same - I've got a very battered copy of the Penguin complete stories, which is almost 30 years old now. (The first book I bought when I went to university - and, fairly typically, nothing to do with my course.)

However, the stories - at least in the early days of the author's ghost story writing career - were written to be read out loud, and, in the context of these works, I now find that format as satisfying as the written word. (That fact also means that producers have no excuse to butcher the text to suit the format - I don't think that's an issue on Librivox, but old audio recordings of short stories are often terribly sliced up.)
 
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Hogarth999

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I also wouldn't describe Sir Michael Hordern's voice as posh - it's clear with excellent enunciation and he has a superb way of putting light little twists and touches on specific words and sentences as required. His accents are also very good. In short, he has a superb voice.
 

Bigphoot2

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I also wouldn't describe Sir Michael Hordern's voice as posh - it's clear with excellent enunciation and he has a superb way of putting light little twists and touches on specific words and sentences as required. His accents are also very good. In short, he has a superb voice.

He's just perfect for the stories.
I don't think the world is ready for Danny Dyer reading M.R. James Castin' the Farkin' Runes :D
 

Yithian

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I have only ever downloaded a single Librivox recording: Stalky & Co.

It was very good - doubly so given the non-price - but the narrator sounded almost exactly like Nigel Farage, which actually worked rather well!
 
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Coastaljames

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Back in the day I would have said the same - I've got a very battered copy of the Penguin complete stories, which is almost 30 years old now.

That's lovely. Made me think...I reckon I first picked up an M.R.James collection when I was about 12...and still have that same illustrated edition. I'm 40 now.
 

Spookdaddy

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That's lovely. Made me think...I reckon I first picked up an M.R.James collection when I was about 12...and still have that same illustrated edition. I'm 40 now.

I picked up a copy of a book called M R James Book of the Supernatural some years before I actually read the stories. I was a very keen artist as a kid and hung around local book fairs looking for things with illustrations that tickled my imagination. This book was one of those larger format hardbacks which were a kind of companion piece to the works of well known writers, and which seem to be have been very popular in the 70's and early 80's - I've got similar ones on Poe and Le Fanu.

It's a collection of essays by or about the author, along with a few stories by other writers considered to have some connection. There are essays on Le Fanu and Twelve Medieval Ghost Stories, by James himself - along with his, Some Remarks on Ghost Stories. There is also an interesting, if shortish, article on the writer's contribution to a discussion about a supposedly secretly 'satanist' work of religious art, inspired by an article in The Times.
 

Coastaljames

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I picked up a copy of a book called M R James Book of the Supernatural some years before I actually read the stories. I was a very keen artist as a kid and hung around local book fairs looking for things with illustrations that tickled my imagination. This book was one of those larger format hardbacks which were a kind of companion piece to the works of well known writers, and which seem to be have been very popular in the 70's and early 80's - I've got similar ones on Poe and Le Fanu.

It's a collection of essays by or about the author, along with a few stories by other writers considered to have some connection. There are essays on Le Fanu and Twelve Medieval Ghost Stories, by James himself - along with his, Some Remarks on Ghost Stories. There is also an interesting, if shortish, article on the writer's contribution to a discussion about a supposedly secretly 'satanist' work of religious art, inspired by an article in The Times.

Huh, that sounds fascinating.
 

ramonmercado

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Radio Plays for the BBC.

M. R. Jᴀᴍᴇs ~ 'Sᴛᴏʀɪᴇs I Hᴀᴠᴇ Tʀɪᴇᴅ ᴛᴏ Wʀɪᴛᴇ'

Between 1976 and 1992, Sheila Hodgson authored and produced for BBC Radio 4 a series of plays which portrayed M. R. James as the diarist of a series of fictional ghost stories, mainly inspired by fragments referred to in his essay "Stories I Have Tried to Write". These consisted of:

Whisper in the Ear (October 1976)
Turn, Turn, Turn (March 1977)
The Backward Glance (22 September 1977)
Here Am I, Where Are You? (29 December 1977),
Echoes from the Abbey (21 November 1984)
The Lodestone (19 April 1989),
and The Boat Hook (15 April 1992).

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLOt8UC-YOr6w8ta1rGse13u6nDHTCV6Ks
 

Dr_Baltar

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Radio Plays for the BBC.

M. R. Jᴀᴍᴇs ~ 'Sᴛᴏʀɪᴇs I Hᴀᴠᴇ Tʀɪᴇᴅ ᴛᴏ Wʀɪᴛᴇ'

Between 1976 and 1992, Sheila Hodgson authored and produced for BBC Radio 4 a series of plays which portrayed M. R. James as the diarist of a series of fictional ghost stories, mainly inspired by fragments referred to in his essay "Stories I Have Tried to Write". These consisted of:

Whisper in the Ear (October 1976)
Turn, Turn, Turn (March 1977)
The Backward Glance (22 September 1977)
Here Am I, Where Are You? (29 December 1977),
Echoes from the Abbey (21 November 1984)
The Lodestone (19 April 1989),
and The Boat Hook (15 April 1992).

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLOt8UC-YOr6w8ta1rGse13u6nDHTCV6Ks


The Backward Glance was on Radio 4 Extra last night. I'm not sure if others are being repeated.
 
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