“St Bertrand de Comminges is a decayed town on the spurs of the Pyrenees…”

He tried to laugh…


Canon Alberic’s Scrapbook by M.R. James


“He was perpetually half glancing behind him;”

“The left half of the picture was the strangest, however. The interest plainly centred there.”

Half-triggers as in ‘Oh Whistle’ and ‘Warning to the Curious”…

“…a thin metallic voice laughing high up in the tower.” — “‘He was laughing in the church,’…” — “Dear me! I wish that landlady would learn to laugh in a more cheering manner; it makes one feel as if there was someone dead in the house.” 

‘Laugh’ is assonant with ‘half’, and there are four separate references to an insidious laughter here. I must say I laughed, too, when I read about the “dusty stuffed crocodile that hangs over the font,…”

And I thought this was aimed at me: “a monomaniac; but what was his monomania?”

The scrapbook itself and the drawing of the monstrous demon you will never forget even though you don’t get to see the drawing itself other than in the configuration of words. And in the iconically Jamesian clinging pursuance by paranoia or by the paranormal or more likely by real demonry.

I even found a fine elbow-trigger in this work: another monomania of mine as mined from much fiction  literature in recent years. “He had taken the crucifix off, and laid it on the table, when his attention was caught by an object lying on the red cloth just by his left elbow.” —

“…he actually laughed or tried to laugh.” — “Half a pipe more, did you say?”


I shall listen now to the piano music that seems to me to laugh in half-measures, the Sorabji music that I once  mentioned here…


My other reviews of M.R. James — https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/my-ongoing-reviews-of-m-r-james-stories/

One thought on ““St Bertrand de Comminges is a decayed town on the spurs of the Pyrenees…”

  1. Pingback: Separate horror stories from many years ago… | The Gestalt Real-Time Reviews of Books

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