Strange Exhibitions: M. R. James, Europe, and the Phantom Museum

Brewster, Scott (2019) Strange Exhibitions: M. R. James, Europe, and the Phantom Museum. In: Haunted Europe: Continental Connections in English-Language Gothic Writing, Film and New Media. Routledge, New York and London, pp. 74-87. ISBN UNSPECIFIED

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Abstract

Ghosts in M. R. James’s tales mainly inhabit the home-grown, picturesque haunts of casual visitors: the seaside resort, the secluded country house, the Cathedral close. James’s typical traveller might be said to follow a predictable, even insular, domestic itinerary. This image of the ‘safe’, leisurely home tour must be set against the enduring fascination with continental Europe in James’s personal and creative life. Although James’s scholars often founder in the face of the different, it is also this difference that proves irresistible, as the journeys abroad in stories such as ‘Canon Alberic’s Scrapbook’, ‘Count Magnus’, ‘Number 13’ and ‘The Treasure of Abbot Thomas’ suggest. The museological legacy – artefacts, or experiences, acquired, and which return with the traveller – assembled by James’s tales that are set in Europe constitutes a strange exhibition, or an exhibition of strangeness, that we might expect from what David Punter has termed the ‘phantom museum’, an unsettling encounter with a past that is at once cherished and foreign. . This essay will track the peregrinations of James’s continental tourists, and consider what these travels bring back ‘home’.

Keywords:Ghost Story, Gothic
Subjects:Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q322 English Literature by author
Divisions:College of Arts > School of English & Journalism > School of English & Journalism (Journalism)
ID Code:36645
Deposited On:20 Aug 2019 12:29

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