Posted in Short Stories

M. R. James: A Warning to the Curious

His tracks showed that he had run along the side of the battery, had turned sharp round the corner of it, and, small doubt of it, must have dashed straight into the open arms of someone who was waiting there. His mouth was full of sand and stone, and his teeth and jaws were broken to bits. I only glanced once at his face.

M. R. James’ “A Warning to the Curious” uses a narrator within a narrator within a narrator and I might still be missing one of the levels of storytelling; however, in spite of the difficulty of keeping track of who is talking, the story stands out in all of its chilling grandeur.

The curious (and early twentieth century) character in the story attempts and succeeds to dig up a ninth century crown when realizing where it could be buried. The crown, though, or at least the crown’s original owner it seems, doesn’t like being found.

The theme of sin and redemption jumps out in this story as an attempt to put the crown back doesn’t seem to work. Though the curious gentleman does get the crown buried again, the deed’s been done! Yikes!

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