Canon Alberic's Scrap-Book

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"Canon Alberic's Scrap-Book" is the first story in the first collection of ghost stories published by M. R. James, Ghost Stories of an Antiquary. The volume appeared in 1904, but "Canon Alberic's Scrap-Book" was written in 1894 and published soon afterwards in the National Review.

The story has a detailed and realistic setting in the tiny decaying cathedral city of Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges, at the foot of the Pyrenees in southern France. An English tourist spends a day photographing the interior of the eponymous cathedral and is encouraged by the sacristan to buy an unusual manuscript volume. This, he concludes, had been created long ago, by cutting up volumes in the old cathedral library, by canon Albéric de Mauléon (an imaginary character, said to be a collateral descendant of the real 16th century bishop Jean de Mauléon).

An unusual illustration in the rear of the volume provides the story's suspense.

The story has inspired a musical composition by Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji, St. Bertrand de Comminges: "He was laughing in the tower", first performed in 1985 by Yonty Solomon.

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