What weight of interpretation will the ghost stories of M. R. James bear? And how much do his readers need to know to make sense of the tales? James himself indicated that the true aim of ghost stories was to inspire a terror that would at the same time give pleasure. His design, he said, was to amuse. He wrote ghost stories to entertain friends when he read them out at Christmas and he offers them in print, he claims, to provide a similar pleasure for readers. Shouldnt we, then, take him at his own self-deprecating assessment?