Tuesday, October 30, 2012
James-A-Day: The Malice of Inanimate Objects
Ghosts & Scholars says: "The Malice of Inanimate Objects" was originally published in the inaugural issue of an Eton ephemeral, The Masquerade, in June 1933. It fell immediately into obscurity and was only rediscovered, nearly fifty years later, when Michael Cox tracked it down while researching for his M.R. James: An Informal Portrait (Oxford, 1983). Thanks to Michael, Ghosts & Scholars was able to give the tale its first ever reprint in 1984. It has since appeared in one or two other places, most notably in Michael Cox's Casting the Runes and Other Stories (Oxford World's Classics, 1987).
We meet one Mr. Burton, who is having an unlucky day. A man of his acquaintance has committed suicide, and it's implied that Burton drove the fellow to it with a court case. As the day goes on, Burton get more and more unlucky, until he is mysteriously killed in a train.
The moral of the story is a speculation that when your possessions seem to be maliciously getting in your way and injuring you on purpose (as we all know they do sometimes), perhaps it's because Something is pointing out to you that you have done wrong. So next time you have a day like that, better think over your behavior...