Thursday, December 24, 2020

The Coveted Glimpse of Impossible Horror

And Merry Christmas, everyone. I've been hungry for ghost stories lately so, since ghost stories, and M.R. James stories in particular, were once traditional on Christmas, I read his story "Count Magnus" this morning.

Once again, I find James is a master at layering narratives. In this case, the first person narrator begins by telling us how he can't describe the manner in which he came across another account he quotes from and paraphrases throughout. And this second layer is the notes of a researcher called Wraxall who mostly talks about interviews and examinations of relics--most significantly a coffin and yet another eerie painting.

The tale builds steam as the notes start to evince the nervousness of the researcher and of impossible things he's not quite ready to admit he's seen. Lovely stuff, a bit like what I was looking for, I suppose. Here's the story read by Michael Hordern.

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