cover image Ghost Stories

Ghost Stories

Edited by Lisa Morton and Leslie S. Klinger. Pegasus, $25.95 (272p) ISBN 978-1-64313-020-0

Rising smoothly above the acres of anthologies of 19th- and early-20th-century weird and supernatural fiction, author Morton and anthologist Klinger combine brilliant stories by obscure writers (such as Elizabeth Stuart Phelps’s unflinching “Since I Died”) with obscure stories by famous writers (such as Henry James’s “The Real Right Thing,” in which a dead author may not wish anyone to write his biography) to create an outstanding work that serves equally as scholarship and entertainment. The stories chosen form a multifaceted depiction of the ghost story over time, with special attention paid to elements such as political ghosts, explicitly Spiritualist pieces, and, in one fascinating case, two writers tackling identical subject matter a generation apart: Olivia Howard Dunbar’s “The Shell of Sense” is decidedly, and brilliantly, in dialogue with Phelps’s story. There are frightening pieces, funny pieces, heart-wrenching pieces, and outright propaganda, and the few stories that have been frequently anthologized elsewhere justify their presence through their contributions to the book’s thematic discussion. This is a work of art, a pleasure to read, and a serious and welcome contribution to the study of the ghost story in English. (Apr.)