Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"The Mezzotint"

"The Mezzotint"
from Ghost Stories of an Antiquary, by M. R. James

This one had some quite humorous touches.  For instance:  "...tea was taken to the accompaniment of a discussion which golfing persons can imagine for themselves, but which the conscientious writer has no right to inflict upon any non-golfing persons."  Ha!  Thank you, Mr. James, for that kindness.

Humor aside, there was also the requisite creepiness, but that was somewhat lessened by the presence of so many characters witnessing it and the lack of real interaction between the characters and the creepiness.  No menace.

I was somewhat struck by how willing everyone was to believe the supernatural phenomenon before they'd even witnessed it.  I suppose that the curator of a museum's collection of topographical documents and illustrations is unlikely to pull a prank, but he could have gone completely mad...  Also, wasn't there reference to the university having a school dedicated to the paranormal?  Maybe such things were viewed as scientific, at the time.  ;o)

So, the final verdict!  Another classic, creepy idea.  More of the "let me just glance over my shoulder to make sure there's nothing back there" feeling.  But again, it felt somewhat underdeveloped-- and the distance between the viewers and the creepy action blunted the effect of the story.