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Yahoo! ArtsApr 20, 2019
M.R. James Wrote the Scariest, Not-So-Holy Ghost Story for Easter
Photo Illustration by The Daily BeastThough we never think of Easter as a day pocked by any kind of fear, it's certainly the holiday that represents the most macabre event out of any of them. Skinny, sage dude, who was trying to revolutionize the world with love, gets his hands and feet nailed to a cross, then spends the afternoon up there until he dies. Upon which, he is stuck in a cave with a rock jammed into its mouth, only to rise from the dead, get out, and find his friends to see if they need to test their belief in him by sticking their fingers in his nail holes. Now let's eat the crap out of some Peeps and Cadbury Eggs!Easter is so vernal, with a color scheme of pinks, light blues, and yellows to match, which enlivens everything from little girls' dresses to ubiquitous Easter eggs. But what has always produced a frisson of fear in me is one of our greatest ghost stories—let's call it top 20—written by a man who normally reserved his frights for Christmas but saw an opportunity in the soft pastel spring of Easter. Montague Rhodes James—M.R. to his friends and to us—was born in 1862, living until 1936. He was a scholar and provost, working at a number of universities in England. But it was while he was at King's College from 1905 to 1918 that he did what he became most famous for. Each year, at Christmas, James would write a ghost story. These dispensed with the trappings of the spirit yarns of the Victorian age, in favor of more modern sensibilities—an emotionally hidebound, sexually repressed professor t
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