Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Terrifying Tuesdays: M. R. James' "The Tractate Middoth"

Portrait of M. R. James from theinkbrain

It must be obvious that I am a big fan of M. R. James!  This week I feature another of his short stories for Library Lovers Month, "The Tractate Middoth".  The opening scene actually takes place in a library.  An elderly patron requests the help of a young library assistant in finding an edition of the Talmud called the Tractate Middoth, but the assistant finds it strangely difficult to locate the volume.  When the man returns the following day with the same request, the library assistant tries again, only to encounter something that results in a blow to his health.  Later, a chance meeting with a woman and her attractive young daughter helps the assistant discover the horrifying mystery surrounding the Tractate Middoth, much to the disadvantage of the elderly patron.  This tale even implies a bit of a love story, quite rare for M. R. James, but the end is sufficiently scary to satisfy any horror enthusiast.  You can read it here, or listen to a dramatized adaptation.  There is even a rather well done television version by the Lights Out series called "The Lost Will of Dr. Rant" starring a very young Leslie Nielsen.  I recommend enjoying all three!


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