Saturday, October 09, 2010

Ghost Stories

We're edging ever closer to Halloween, which means soon I will be in the mood for Christmas. But I'm determined not to rush things this year, even though I've already started my Christmas shopping.

Traditionally, Christmas was a time for telling ghost stories, which gives it something in common with our modern Halloween. I think my own writing has a rather odd style because most of what I read for pleasure ARE ghost stories--not just the YA variety mentioned in previous posts, but 19th and early 20th century Victorian ghost stories in particular. I'm not too impressed with later stories, as they tend to be too "horror" driven--psychopaths, zombies, serial killers--these can make for suspenseful stories, but they are not the good old fashioned scare that I enjoy.

If you read enough ghost story collections, you will find a lot of repetition of content. I just may have read every Victorian ghost story still in print. Below is a list of classics that is by no means exhaustive, and links to read those stories where they exist:

The Empty House by Algernon Blackwood
Canon Alberic's Scrap Book by M.R. James
Nobody Ever Goes There--Manly Wade Wellman
The House of the Nightmare--Edward Lucas White
The House of Nightmare, and Lukundoo (Dodo Press)
The Vacant Lot--Mary Wilkins Freeman
Shadow over Innsmouth--H.P. Lovecraft
The Next Room--Vincent O'Sullivan (no link)
What Was It?--FitzJames O'Brien
The Tractate Middoth--M.R. James
The Dream Woman--Wilkie Collins
Man-Size in Marble-E. Nesbit
The Body-Snatchers--Robert Louis Stevenson
The Signal-Man--Charles Dickens
Mr. Justice Harbottle--J. Sheridan Le Fanu
The White People--Arthur Machen

All of these authors listed are classic authors in some capacity, with M.R. James, Sheridan Le Fanu, Wilkie Collins, Algernon Blackwood, and H.P. Lovecraft probably being the most well-known. Here are a few collections I would recommend:

Casting the Runes and Other Ghost Stories (Oxford World's Classics)

J. S. le Fanu's Ghostly Tales

Edward Gorey's Haunted Looking Glass: Ghost Stories

Best Ghost Stories of Algernon Blackwood

The Best of H. P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre

Pleasant reading.

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