The Booooooooo-k Nook Reads Some Ghost Stories (10/27)

Welcome to the Book Nook! The weekly thread for all book nerds on The Avocado.
This is the place to talk about books you’re currently reading, discuss genres, ask for recommendations, and post serious literary criticism.

As I mentioned last week, this week’s Booooooooo-k Nook is all about the ghost story. Humans have been wanting to scare each other and tell tales of ghosts pretty much since forever, but the “classic” ghost story started pretty much with Edgar Allan Poe and Sheridan Le Fanu in the early nineteenth century, which authors such as M. R. James then ran with, roughly until the First World War. James, an authority on the subject on both an academic and artistic level, even identified five key features of the English ghost story, which were the following:

  • The pretense of truth
  • “A pleasing terror”
  • No gratuitous bloodshed or sex
  • No “explanation oghf the machinery”
  • Setting: “those of the writer’s (and reader’s) own day”

Though of course many authors (including James) broke at least one of those sometimes.

Oh, and even the Book Nook’s Favorite Author© Edith Wharton was an enormous fan of ghost stories, and published several of them (the collection she prepared right before she passed away has recently been reissued, and is available here).

And of course Stephen King has written a few that are closer to the Jamesian ghost story than the gorier ones he’s known for as well. Some could argue (and have) that his short works are better than his novels, as their sudden endings are usually more suited for horror, and King has a famous difficulty with ending his novels.

So, what is your favorite ghost story?

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