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The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton Paperback – October 10, 1997


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The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton + Ghost Stories Of Henry James (Mystery & Supernatural) + The Dead of Night: The Ghost Stories of Oliver Onions (Tales of Mystery & the Supernatural)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; Reissue edition (October 10, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684842572
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684842578
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #115,919 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"'No, I don't believe in ghosts, but I'm afraid of them,' is much more than the cheap paradox it seems to many. To 'believe,' in that sense, is a conscious act of the intellect, and it is in the warm darkness of the prenatal fluid far below our conscious reason that the faculty dwells with which we apprehend ghosts." Edith Wharton, known for her keen observations of an emotionally stifling upper-class social world, was so afraid of ghosts that for many years she couldn't even sleep in a room with a book containing a ghost story. As horror scholar Jack Sullivan writes, "It is this sharply felt sensation of supernatural dread filtered through a skeptical sensibility that made Wharton a master of the ghost story." This collection contains 11 of her elegant, chilling tales, including "Afterword," "The Triumph of Night," and "Pomegranate Seed," plus Wharton's 1937 preface and an autobiographical postscript. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Edith Wharton was born in 1862 into one of New York's older and richer families and was educated here and abroad. Her works include The Age of Innocence, Ethan Frome, The House of Mirth, and Roman Fever and Other Stories. As a keen observer and chronicler of society, she is without peer. Edith Wharton died in France in 1937.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton.
Diane Schirf
These stories are fully plotted and provide the quiet "authentic shudder" most readers of "literary" ghost stories expect.
Sherry Austin
I could only read one of these stories at a time because I had to think one story over before I went on to the next .
J. Lesley

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Diane Schirf on December 28, 2003
Format: Paperback
The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton. Highly recommended.
I was unaware that Edith Wharton, known for such insightful novels as The Age of Innocence, The House of Mirth, and Ethan Frome (as well as the popular movies these novels inspired), had indulged in writing ghost stories other than "Afterward" until I found this collection. In Ghost Stories, Wharton reveals her mastery of the psychology of horror-where ghosts terrify through their oblique influence on the human mind and emotion-and where these human foibles create their own horrors.
Wharton's ghosts take many forms-from the loyal retainer in "The Lady's Maid's Bell" to the loyal retainers of a different sort in "Kerfol"; from the guilt behind "The Eyes" to the guilt recognised "Afterward"; from the mysterious "Mr. Jones" to the ghostly and ghastly "Miss Mary Pask." Some of these visitations are not seen, or, in the case of "Kerfol," even heard. They fulfill various functions: To protect the secrets of the past, to bring the secrets of the past to light, to warn the present about the future, and to remind the living of the dead.
Like the best ghost story writers, Wharton begins each tale with a scenario that seems ordinary enough. Early on, she drops subtle clues that build from a feeling that something is somewhat amiss up to a sense of fractured reality that shatters one's assumptions. Wharton masterfully creates ironic twists ("Miss Mary Pask"), innocent victims (the wife in "Afterward"), and nontraditional ghosts ("The Eyes," "Kerfol").
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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Sherry Austin on October 10, 1999
Format: Paperback
These are ghost stories the way they should be, though the dense style of the period might put off readers expecting a quick, effortless read. Don't confuse these traditional ghost stories with the kind of campfire tales gathered in regional collections. These stories are fully plotted and provide the quiet "authentic shudder" most readers of "literary" ghost stories expect. For the thoughtful sensitive reader who wants to linger in the dusk awhile, THE GHOST STORIES OF EDITH WHARTON and ROALD DAHL'S BOOK OF GHOST STORIES are the best collections to have.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By R. Kunath on March 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
Edith Wharton was a master of the ghost story, and these stories linger in the mind long after the book is over. Above all, the stories are incredibly rich in atmosphere: Wharton is not writing to give thrills but rather chills, and the subtle, nuanced dread evoked in so many of these stories testifies to her immense talent as a writer. These are supernatural tales of the highest quality, and the book is absolutely essential for anyone who loves the classic ghost story.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Joan Shaddox Isom on June 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
The impact of these stories may hit you long after you've read them. These are stories you don't forget, yet you're compelled to reread them. Edith Wharton has given us one of the most delightful ghost story collections I've ever read. It is the characters that make an impression. Long after you've put the book down, they come back to you...
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By J. Lesley TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 26, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Edith Wharton is an acknowleged giant of the fiction novel. But this particular book of hers needs to come complete with a disclaimer. I would suggest: DON'T EXPECT TO READ THE AVERAGE GHOST STORY HERE. My one negative thing to say about this book is actually a positive. I could only read one of these stories at a time because I had to think one story over before I went on to the next . My tendency is to sit down with a book and read it cover to cover with minor stops along the way for everyday life to intervene. I have been reading this book for over a week now because each story makes me stop after I have read it to have a nice long thinking session regarding what I have just read. I loved that.

My favorite story of the eleven story collection is titled, "Afterward". The title means that a person did not know if they had met the ghost at Lyng in Dorsetshire until long, long afterward. A superb rendering of a mystery which began so quietly that Mary Boyne didn't even know she was involved in it until it was too late.

Another favorite is "Kerfol" which takes place in Brittany and involves a pack of dogs and how they got where they were. Or were they there at all?

And then there is "Bewitched" a masterpiece which made me shiver while reading about the frozen New England winter even though it was 90 degrees outside my house. Wharton's descriptions of the physical appearances of all those involved in this wonderfully frightening tale is straight from the Grant Wood painting American Gothic, except with all the wintery background painted in by Edith Wharton.

Very highly recommended. These are not the modern man's ghost stories even though they were published in 1973.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Alfredo Torres on July 5, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this anthology on the heels of reading a similar anthology of horror tales by Bram Stoker. I was surprised to find that Wharton easily surpasses Stoker as a writer of gothic tales. I had expected that the author of Dracula would be better at this genre, but no.

Some of the stories, like Kerfol, compare well with the best gothic tales of Vernon Lee, using foreign aristocratic settings and historic elements quite deftly. Wharton is equally adroit with stories that use American settings, including those that are quite outside her own native culture of old New York. "The Trimph of Night", for example, is set in upstate NY and deals with what happens when a man shirks his responsibility for stopping an evil man. "Bewitched" is set somewhere in New England, possibly CT like Ethan Fromme because the town of Starkfield is mentioned a few times in the story, as it is also mentioned in Ethan Fromme. "Bewitched" leaves much to the imagination, and after one reading it is not yet clear to me what exactly happened in this one. I know I will have to re-read it soon. "The Eyes" appears to be set in New York, and I was surprised at how full of gay subtext the story was, as if the protagonist in the tale was perhaps inspired by a homosexual man that Wharton knew, but did not quite like...Henry James perhaps, though I am sure she knew others.

This little anthology made me feel sorry that Wharton never gave us a gothic novel or two. The book shows that she certainly had an imagination for the disturbing and the macabre, although perhaps not enough interest in such subject matter as to compel the writing of a novel in that vein. Expect very fine, genteel ghost stories, but don't let my descriptors fool you. The tales are frightening and effective, and I believe them to be some of the best American gothic you can find.
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