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Ghost stories pander to the unextinguished primitivism that, like the fat in streaky bacon a favourite Dickens image is still with us. As M R James catalogued that mass of ancient writings it must have gone through his mind: did not these mouldering documents contain a larger grain of truth within them than the latest scientific paper from the Cavendish? James adapts wonderfully well to the small screen.

The scenario is simple. A rich, diabolically misanthropic clergyman has surrounded himself with ancient books. He has two possible heirs — one, John, he hates; the other, a harmless widow with a daughter, he despises. His vast property he leaves, by one will, to his male heir. A later will leaves everything to the heiress.

On Christmas Ghost Stories and Adapting M. R. James | Moore & Reppion

Yet he has secreted the revised will in an ancient and particularly sinister book: The Tractate Middoth. He has donated this to a rare book library — but which one? And, if it is found which, 20 years later, it is , what dark forces will the Tractate release? Gatiss makes confident changes to his source text. He moves the main action from the Edwardian period to the s.

Ghost Stories for Christmas - The Treasure Of Abbot Thomas

He introduces characters, a deathbed scene which James might have thought a trifle heavy-handed and Doctor Who-style visual effects. He makes the young hero a jaunty Cambridge undergraduate, not a beaten-down assistant librarian.


It all works, although for those who love the story it jolts a bit. Suggestion, rather than precise narrative linkage, Lawrence Gordon Clark decreed, was the only way to contain a good story within a minute time frame.

Gatiss observes the rule of Clark. The other rule in ghost stories is to appreciate that ghosts are not dangerous in themselves but dangerous in the unsettling effects they produce. It stops the heart.

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And toffish. Boris Johnson would have fit in well enough. Not us.

Your next box set: Ghost Stories for Christmas

The episode, written and directed by Don Taylor, centres on a middle-class couple entertaining friends on Christmas Eve in their enviably comfortable second home in the country. Reading a ghost story on Christmas Eve was once as much a part of traditional Christmas celebrations as turkey, eggnog, and Santa Claus.

More Ghostly TV This Christmas

Biblioasis is thrilled to offer this series of beautifully illustrated, collectible books that share these classic Christmas ghost stories with readers across North America. Seth, our world-famous and beloved cartoonist, designs and illustrates each book in his own inimitable way. To help make this holiday season the spookiest in centuries, Biblioasis is excited to present a special deal on our Christmas Ghost Stories. Poynter, E. These collectible books are ideal stocking stuffers, and make perfect gifts for the literary elves in your life. With three to four new books in the series scheduled for publication each year, the early first editions will sell out soon — so get yours today!