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Ancestral Shadows: An Anthology of Ghostly Tales

by Russell Kirk

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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903266,947 (4.36)7
Widely regarded as the founder of the modern conservative movement, Russell Kirk was a noted man of letters whose prodigious literary output included a syndicated newspaper column, a regular page in "National Review," and many books. This volume demonstrates another compelling side of Kirk -- the imaginative author who could communicate his powerful vision through the dramatic genre of the ghost story."Ancestral Shadows" collects nineteen of Kirkbs best ghostly tales from periodicals and anthologies published throughout his life. In the tradition of Defoe, Stevenson, Hawthorne, Coleridge, Poe, and other master writers, these frightful stories conjure the creaks and shadows of the very places where they came to life through Kirkbs pen: haunted St. Andrews, the Isle of Eigg, Kellie Castle, Balcarres House, Durie House (bwhich has the most persistent of all country-house spectresb), and Kirkbs own ancestral spooky house in Mecosta, Michigan.Full of fantastic gothic tales masterfully told, the volume ends,with bA Cautionary Note on the Ghostly Tale, b an incisive piece in which Kirk reflects on why he writes such stories: bexperiments in the moral imaginationb are what he is really after. Ghost stories are not merely entertaining but possess a particular ability to capture the essential features of human nature, of good and evil. bAll important literature has some ethical end, b Kirk says, band the tale of the preternatural -- as written by George Macdonald, C. S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and other masters -- can be an instrument for the recovery of moral order.bIncluding an illuminative introduction by Vigen Guroian, "Ancestral Shadows" will enthrall and delight all lovers ofghost stories.… (more)
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Showing 3 of 3
The creepiest ghost stories I have ever read. ( )
  mpotts | Sep 20, 2018 |
The publication of Ancestral Shadows is a major event for the reputation of the literary supernatural tale. Kirk ranks as one of the few modern American masters of the genre, and for far too long his stories have been out of print. Here Kirk crafts prose as cultivated and engaging as - Adam
  stephencrowe | Nov 11, 2015 |
The publication of “Ancestral Shadows€? ($25.00, ISBN 080283938X ) is a major event for fans of the ghost story genre and Russell Kirk but also for the reputation of the literary supernatural tale. Russell Kirk (along with the recently deceased Jack Cady) ranks as one of the few top-notch, modern American ghost story writers, and for far too long Kirk’s stories have been out of print. This book collects all but a very few of Kirk’s lesser tales (which are available for die-hards and completists in the pricey but gorgeous recent Kirk collection produced by Ash-Tree Press in two volumes).

The stories in this collection include many of the best ghostly tales ever written, including “Lex Talionis,â€? “Fate’s Purse,â€? “Watchers at the Straight Gate,â€? & “The Invasion of the Church of the Holy Ghost.â€? Not to mention Kirk’s masterpiece, “There’s a Long, Long Trail A-Windingâ€?--if you can read this one alone in your home after dark and, once you finish it, not be driven to turn on every light in the house (and maybe your stereo as well), then you’re a braver soul than I. Kirk indulges several of the genre’s conventions and breathes new life into them while giving us a whole host of wonderful characters as unforgettable as the denizens of a Dickens novel. The collection does include two or three stories that drop below the high standard of Kirk’s usual tales, but this in no way diminishes the his accomplishments as a virtuoso writer crafting prose that is as cultivated and engaging in its own way as that of Flannery O’Connor or F. Scott Fitzgerald.

The dust jacket blurbs--of the rare, substantive variety--lend much legitimacy to Kirk’s status as a significant literary figure, culled as these blurbs are from such diverse sources as Ray Bradbury, Madeline L’Engle, T. S. Eliot, Thomas Howard, and Robert Aickman. I fully agree with Bradbury’s blurb: “For too many years Russell Kirk, almost like the title of this book, remained half seen in the American literary scene. It is time his critics and readers brought him out into the full light. He deserves to be considered a fine writer and an amazing thinker in literature and in politics.â€?

Kudos to Eerdmans for releasing this relatively inexpensive and very attractive volume. (The gorgeous, black-and-white sketch portrait of Kirk on the cover even has a ghostly tone to it and evokes association with the beautiful woodcuts Kirk made to illustrate his first volume of stories, “The Surly Sullen Bell.â€?) I can only hope this book finds wide placement in libraries and bookstores around the country. ( )
  awalter1 | May 9, 2006 |
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Guroian, Vigensecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Widely regarded as the founder of the modern conservative movement, Russell Kirk was a noted man of letters whose prodigious literary output included a syndicated newspaper column, a regular page in "National Review," and many books. This volume demonstrates another compelling side of Kirk -- the imaginative author who could communicate his powerful vision through the dramatic genre of the ghost story."Ancestral Shadows" collects nineteen of Kirkbs best ghostly tales from periodicals and anthologies published throughout his life. In the tradition of Defoe, Stevenson, Hawthorne, Coleridge, Poe, and other master writers, these frightful stories conjure the creaks and shadows of the very places where they came to life through Kirkbs pen: haunted St. Andrews, the Isle of Eigg, Kellie Castle, Balcarres House, Durie House (bwhich has the most persistent of all country-house spectresb), and Kirkbs own ancestral spooky house in Mecosta, Michigan.Full of fantastic gothic tales masterfully told, the volume ends,with bA Cautionary Note on the Ghostly Tale, b an incisive piece in which Kirk reflects on why he writes such stories: bexperiments in the moral imaginationb are what he is really after. Ghost stories are not merely entertaining but possess a particular ability to capture the essential features of human nature, of good and evil. bAll important literature has some ethical end, b Kirk says, band the tale of the preternatural -- as written by George Macdonald, C. S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and other masters -- can be an instrument for the recovery of moral order.bIncluding an illuminative introduction by Vigen Guroian, "Ancestral Shadows" will enthrall and delight all lovers ofghost stories.

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