How Not to Handle Rejection Letters: M.R. James’s “Casting the Runes”

Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s sandbox, from those who inspired him to those who were inspired in turn. Today we’re looking at M. R. James’s “ Casting the Runes ,” first published in 1911 in his More Ghost Stories collection . Spoilers ahead. “Dear Sir, — I am requested by the Council of the ___ Association to return to you the draft of a paper on The Truth of Alchemy, which you have been good enough to offer to read at our forthcoming meeting, and to inform you that the Council do not see their way to including it in the programme.” Summary Mr. Karswell of Lufford Abbey, self-styled wizard, isn’t happy about the rejection of his paper on alchemy. Not happy at all, as the secretary of the rejecting Association tells his wife. At lunch with friends who live near the Abbey, the pair learn how vindictive Karswell can be. According to the friends, he never forgives an offense. To keep children off his estate, he treated them to a magic-lantern show of horrors, including a piece about a flopping white thing that does […]

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