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The Oxford Book of Victorian Ghost Stories Paperback – April 24, 2003


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The Oxford Book of Victorian Ghost Stories + Late Victorian Gothic Tales (Oxford World's Classics)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 497 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (April 24, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192804472
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192804471
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #516,025 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


"the perfect literary shop of horrors"--The Observer


About the Author

Michael Cox is Editor of A Dictionary of Writers and Their Works, and The Oxford Book of Twentieth-Century Ghost Stories. R. A. Gilbertis a well-known antiquarian bookseller.

More About the Author

Michael Cox is the biographer of the ghost-story writer and scholar M. R. James. His first novel, The Meaning of Night, was shortlisted for the 2007 Costa First Novel Award. He lives in rural Northamptonshire, England.

Customer Reviews

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See all 7 customer reviews
I particularly loved John Charrington's Wedding.
Magpie80
Its editors, who are both scholars of occult literature, collected the best of the best from the Golden Age of ghost story writing.
E. A. Lovitt
I'd highly recommend this book for a great read in the fall around Halloween or any time!
Suzy Darling

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 46 people found the following review helpful By E. A. Lovitt HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on January 16, 2007
Format: Paperback
For the sake of atmosphere, read "Victorian Ghost Stories" with a candle to light your way through its mysterious passages.

A very large candle.

There are thirty-five stories within its four-hundred-and-eighty-nine pages, and you must read them all before dawn.

Actually, you should savor this supernatural feast one story at a time. Its editors, who are both scholars of occult literature, collected the best of the best from the Golden Age of ghost story writing. If you are already a reader of the phantasmagoric, some of the anthology will be familiar, e.g. "An Account of Some Strange Disturbances in Aungier Street," "The Romance of Certain Old Clothes," or "John Charrington's Wedding."

There are also lesser-known tales of vengeful ghosts, haunted houses, and "things in a dead man's eye," the latter courtesy of Rudyard Kipling's "At the End of the Passage."

According to the editors' introduction, one of their aims for this anthology was to "map out the development of the Victorian ghost story from circa 1850...it is in the 1850s that the distinct, anti-Gothic character of the Victorian ghost story begins to emerge." Which is not to say that the Gothic emphasis on moldering sepulchres is altogether missing. Try "The Tomb of Sarah" by F. G. Loring, whose story begins with the memorial inscription:

"SARAH. 1630. FOR THE SAKE OF THE DEAD AND THE WELFARE OF THE LIVING, LET THIS SEPULCHRE REMAIN UNTOUCHED AND ITS OCCUPANT UNDISTURBED TILL THE COMING OF CHRIST."

Of course, the story's protagonist believes he has an excellent reason for disturbing the dead. Or in Sarah's case, the Undead.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Asrai on July 16, 2006
Format: Paperback
I have to say these sorts of stories have gotten me through grad school... Though I own more than one Victorian horror anthology, this was my latest acquisition and undoubtedly high ranking amongst my favorites...most of the time I'd study all day and just want something relaxing to read a 20 minute getaway and since most of the stories are short enough to not be imposing and if you have quite an imagination about you, you'll enjoy the ornate details which will carry you back to a more decadent era filled with mystery... I felt thoroughly entertained by the eloquence and detailed verbal imagery. I was able to sustain myself through yet another day...The book is a compilation of many authors such as sir Arthur Conan Doyle... it is a nice medley... so you'll always have a "surprise me" trust me you will not regret this buy.. If you want a break from the politics, economics, social structure of the world around you to your private little sanctuary... then just turn on a few candles on a chilly autumn evening and prepare to be delighted with any one of these tales...
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By TAB on October 31, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an exceptional anthology of Victorian ghost stories; all are short stories which are easily read in a brief sitting. The book serves as a remarkable spyglass into another era, one wholly foreign to our own. I enjoy each creepy tale and find the mix of authors to be effectively selected and simply organized. A truly fun read. Recommended.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Severian TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 24, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Victorian ghost stories, though elegant and often well written, are a bit unpalatable to the modern reader for a few reasons. Trudging through 35 of these little novelties is a bit like eating a half pound of caviar - an acquired taste is piquant only in small doses and too much at once leads rapidly to indigestion!

Here are the issues with Ghostly Tale Victoriana:

1) Complete predictability. Victorian readers were a lot like pro wrestling fans; they know exactly what they like, they expect any given example of the medium to gratify those expectations, and novelty of any sort is equivalent to heresy. A villain must be punished; the saccharine little bourgeois family moving into the haunted manse must escape unharmed. The loved one who appeared mysteriously when far away has to have died, etc. These recycled tropes create not only linear simple plots but also a rather numbing similarity in how examples can be categorized.

To wit, herein we have 4 "tragic spectacle re-enacted" tales (aka VCR hauntings), 6 supernatural vengeance tales, 5 loved one expiration viewings, 5 ghostly premonitions of death etc. We have a few unusual tales but these are few and far between.

2) Lack of psychological nuance. Unlike the Gothic story, Victorian ghost tales have to happen to normal people with carefully restrained passions and balanced temperaments. This requirement of tight constraint for the protagonists not only makes for dullish characters, but it also means the events occurring in the tale often have no internal meaning to the character. (Compare for example "The Yellow Wallpaper" or "The Turn of the Screw" Gothic rollercoasters in which the possible insanity and / or unreliable narration of the protagonists creates ambiguity and metaphor.
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