Posted in Short Stories

M. R. James: An Episode of Cathedral History

Gradually there formulated itself a suspicion – which grew into a conviction – that the alterations in the Cathedral had something to say in the matter.

In “An Episode of Cathedral History”, M. R. James tells stories with stories about a Cathedral that has some work done. Does this work awaken a monster already there in the tombs or does the work itself create the monster. Either way gives us a frightening story. It also gives us a funny story. The details of what gets moved and what gets changed about the Cathedral’s architecture could be tedious if it they don’t complete the comical scenes around the workers and the neighbors. The comedy does nothing to diminish the fright. And the fright does nothing to diminish the comedy. Quite ingenious if you ask me.

There’s comedy in a young boy hiding his pet dog in his bedroom against his mother’s wishes. There’s horror in the noises heard by the boy and his dog – and his mother. The boy tries to pass it off as cats even though he and the dog are terrified. And the noise is significantly louder than cats.

The title also tries to give a touch of boredom to something scary and hilarious.

2 thoughts on “M. R. James: An Episode of Cathedral History

    1. Yes, you are right! I just finished “A View From A Hill” yesterday. Given the story (which is great!), the title is extremely understated! But I’ve come to expect that in just reading the handful of stories that I’ve read.

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