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The Penguin Book of Ghost Stories: From…
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The Penguin Book of Ghost Stories: From Elizabeth Gaskell to Ambrose… (edition 2010)

by Michael Newton (Author)

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964227,910 (3.39)18
The ghost is the most enduring figure in supernatural fiction. He is absolutely indestructible... He changes with the styles in fiction but he never goes out of fashion. He is the really permanent citizen of the earth, for mortals, at best, are but transients' - Dorothy ScarboroughThis new selection of ghost stories, by Michael Newton, brings together the best of the genre. From Elizabeth Gaskell's 'The Old Nurse's Story' through to Edith Wharton's 'Afterword', this collection covers all of the most terrifying tales of the genre. With a thoughtful introduction, and helpful notes, Newton places the stories contextually within the genre and elucidates the changing nature of the ghost story and how we interpret it.… (more)
Member:JamesT1
Title:The Penguin Book of Ghost Stories: From Elizabeth Gaskell to Ambrose Bierce (Penguin Classics)
Authors:Michael Newton (Author)
Info:Penguin Classics (2010), 464 pages
Collections:Your library
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The Penguin Book of Ghost Stories: From Elizabeth Gaskell to Ambrose Bierce (Penguin Classics) by Michael Newton (Editor)

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Showing 4 of 4
While some of the stories were interesting (such as "The Monkey's Paw" by W. W. Jacobs and "Afterward" by Edith Wharton), others just fell flat (such as the overly long Henry James story, "The Jolly Corner," and Edward Bulwer Lytton's "The Haunted and the Haunters: or, The House and the Brain.") We read this as a group, and most of us even questioned whether some of the stories were true ghost stories. Almost all the stories are available in the public domain, so this collection is a bit pricy when that is considered. Purchasers essential pay for the editor's additions--an introduction, a nice bibliography, a bit on each author, and a few end notes. I really wish the author introductions had been at the beginning of each story instead of with the end notes. I wish the end notes had been true footnotes. Most notes explained a word in the text, and it would have been nice not to have to flip on the rare occasion I actually needed to see a definition. I wish the anthology included several contemporary stories. ( )
  thornton37814 | Apr 22, 2021 |
Although I'm not a big ghost story fan, when this book was on display at my favorite bookstore shortly before Halloween I snapped it up, and have been dipping into it ever since. A little to my surprise, I liked a large number of the stories, but perhaps this shouldn't have been surprising since the anthologist, Michael Newton, in his introduction, noted:

"In choosing the texts for this anthology, I worked on the principle that a story should be good in itself: that is, well written, sophisticated, and (if possible) frightening. This means that I felt it best not to shy away from some obvious choices. In my view, some very good anthologies of ghost stories are weakened by a desire to pick surprising, neglected or substandard stories by the best writers in the genre, or second rank stories by largely forgotten writers. . . . (This book is) for those who want one volume that brings together the very best examples of the genre."

I also appreciated the rest of Newton's introduction, in which he discussed the background of the ghost stories and some common themes and ideas. The stories in this book are from the 19th and early 20th centuries, and are by British and US writers.

While I didn't like (or finish) all of them, there were quite a few stories that I found compelling, in particular Elizabeth Gaskell's "The Old Nurse's Story," Edward Bulwer Lytton's "The Haunted and the Haunters:, or The House and the Brain," Amelia B. Edwards' "The North Mail," Sheridan Le Fanu's "Green Tea," Margaret Oliphant's "The Open Door," W.W. Jacobs' "The Monkey's Paw," Mary Wilkins Freeman's "The Wind in the Rose-Bush," and M. R. James' "'Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad.'" Although very different, and in some cases a tad predictable, each of these fulfilled the anthologist's desire for well written and at least a little scary stories. I felt they gave me an overview of the genre, and some fun reading evenings, which is also what the anthologist intended.
2 vote rebeccanyc | Nov 16, 2013 |
I bought this book a little while ago – fully intending to read it during Halloween week. I’m not especially fond of Halloween, although I don’t actually dislike it; I just thought it might be fun. As an aside, although I never read horror – or anything too dark, – I don’t find ghost stories scary – as I don’t believe in ghosts –I find much of what goes on in the real world to be far more frightening. I do however find that these kind of old fashioned ghost stories to be strangely cosy and absolutely perfect for reading on dark chilly evenings in late Autumn. I do imagine though, that these stories wouldn’t be regarded as particularly frightening by most people anyway. I suspect we are all just a little more sophisticated, far more cynical and dismissive of things we can’t explain, than the readers who these stories were originally written for.
This collection is a real joy – a veritable who’s who of nineteenth century authors on both sides of the Atlantic, including Elizabeth Gaskell, Charles Dickens, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Rudyard Kipling, Sheridan Le Fanu and Edith Wharton - among others. Nineteen stories by some fabulous writers – what’s not to like? Well of course – as with any collection of short stories there are some which I enjoyed more than others. Thrawn Janet by Robert Louis Stevenson was one I struggled with as it’s written in - what I found to be - very difficult Scottish dialect. I also found the story by Henry James pretty hard going and I skipped some of it I’m afraid. All the other stories though are wonderfully readable, and I thoroughly enjoyed them.
“There could be no doubt, however, of the fact, for the lamps grew larger and brighter every moment, and I even fancied I could already see the dark outline of the carriage between them. It was coming up very fast, and quite noiselessly; the snow being nearly a foot deep under the wheels.
And now the body of the vehicle became distinctly visible behind the lamps. It looked strangely lofty. A sudden suspicion flashed upon me. Was it possible that I had passed the crossroads in the dark without observing the sign-post, and could this be the very coach which I had come to meet?”
(from The North Mail by Amelia B Edwards)
As I think I have said before I do find it difficult to review short story collections – which ones do I talk about? I generally come down on the side of talking about some I liked most. The first story – The Nurse’s Tale by Elizabeth Gaskell is one I have read before – and I love it – it’s marvellously atmospheric. An ageing children’s nurse recounts the story of a ghost child in the house where she and her young charge went to live following the death of the child’s parents. A perfect opening to this collection it is the story of cold wintery weather, footprints in the snow and windswept fens, eerie organ music and ghostly apparitions. The Cold Embrace by Mary Elizabeth Braddon – the author of Lady Audley’s secret which I read recently, concerns the aftermath of a tragic death. A feckless young man betroths himself to a young woman, who pledges that even in death she will love him. When the young man throws her over, the broken hearted young girl is driven to desperate measures. Margaret Oliphant’s The Open Door – is one of the slightly longer stories – and was also one of my favourites. A former Colonel’s beloved young son appears to become terribly ill, is very distressed and told by the doctor to stay in bed. The boy is claiming to have heard strange moaning noises coming from some local ruins. The boy’s father promises his son to discover what it all means, and with the help of his butler and his thoroughly unconvinced doctor friend, he does just that. The Monkey’s Paw by W. W Jacobs will be one story I don’t think I will easily forget. It’s a wonderfully chilling twist on the old three wishes type fairy-tale. Afterward the final story in this collection is by the brilliant Edith Wharton, a chilling story of a woman and her businessman husband who now living in England move into a house they are told is haunted but that they would never know it – at least not till long “afterward.”
I am glad I finished this collection just in time to post this review late on a Halloween night – it does seem appropriate. I would certainly recommend this collection to those who enjoy these kinds of old fashioned chillers, they are perfect winter evening reading. ( )
  Heaven-Ali | Oct 31, 2012 |
A nice, though not spectacular, collection of ghost stories. For me, the standouts were the Dickens and Wharton stories; Henry James's contribution is an overly verbose, overwrought mess of a thing. Several of the stories are more funny than frightening, and a couple are written in unrelenting dialect (helpful glossary provided at the back). The stories are nicely annotated, even if they don't form a particularly coherent whole, they're an amusing read. ( )
  upstairsgirl | Oct 8, 2010 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Newton, MichaelEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Austin, MaryContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bierce, AmbroseContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Braddon, Mary ElizabethContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dickens, CharlesContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Edwards, Amelia B.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Freeman, May WilkinsContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gaskell, ElizabethContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hearn, LafcadioContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jacobs, W. W.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
James, HenryContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
James, M. R.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kipling, RudyardContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Le Fanu, SheridanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lytton, Edward BulwerContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Newton, MichaelIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
O'Brien, Fitz-JamesContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Oliphant, MargaretContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Stevenson, Robert LouisContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Stowe, Harriet BeecherContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wharton, EdithContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Please do not combine this book with The Penguin Book of Ghost Stories edited by J. Cuddon. They are separate collections.
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The ghost is the most enduring figure in supernatural fiction. He is absolutely indestructible... He changes with the styles in fiction but he never goes out of fashion. He is the really permanent citizen of the earth, for mortals, at best, are but transients' - Dorothy ScarboroughThis new selection of ghost stories, by Michael Newton, brings together the best of the genre. From Elizabeth Gaskell's 'The Old Nurse's Story' through to Edith Wharton's 'Afterword', this collection covers all of the most terrifying tales of the genre. With a thoughtful introduction, and helpful notes, Newton places the stories contextually within the genre and elucidates the changing nature of the ghost story and how we interpret it.

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