Canon Alberic's Scrap-Book

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"Canon Alberic's Scrap-book"
Scrapbook02 13cd22d9cc.jpg
Illustration by James McBryde
Author M.R. James
Country England
Language English
Genre(s) Horror short story

"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. This, he concludes, had been created long ago, by canon Albéric de Mauléon (an invented character, said to be a collateral descendant of the real 16th century bishop Jean de Mauléon), who had cut up volumes in the old cathedral library. A disturbing illustration in the back of the book is a key to the story's suspenseful arc.


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.[1]


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