The Oxford Book of English Ghost Stories Paperback – Feb 18 2003
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`handsome Oxford collection of spooks...plenty of flesh-creeping matter here' The Times
`The perfect book for long winter evenings of drawn curtains and flickering firelight.' Books and Bookmen
`an excellent cross-section of familiar and unfamiliar stories' New Statesman
`an excellent collection, varied and original' Susan Hill
`Some of the best and scariest ghost stories ever written' Emma Dally, Cosmopolitan
`a wonderful cross-section of the familiar and less well-known' Oxford Times
`Excellent collection of famous and less known authors illustrates the variety of this very English genre.' The Times
`All in all, this is a remarkably well-chosen selection.' David Holloway, Sunday Telegraph
`Entertaining, unsettling classics to read by firelight - if you dare.' Woman and Home
`excellent volume ... Readers can enjoy the cream of the 19th century ghost story and see for themselves how the genre developed.' Sara Hudston, Dorset Evening Echo
About the Author
Michael Cox is author of M.R. James (Oxford, 1983) and editor of a selection of anthologies including Victorian Ghost Stories, Victorian Dective Stories and The Oxford Book of Historical Short Stories. R.A. Gilbert is an antiquarian bookseller and author of A.E. Waite: A Bibliography (1983).
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(Believe me, I've tried and after almost half a century of trying, have sold exactly one ghost story).
L. P. Hartley, who wrote "The Travelling Grave" and other great stories of the supernatural, described the ghost story as "certainly the most exacting form of literary art, and perhaps the only one in which there is almost no intermediate step between success and failure. Either it comes off or it is a flop."
Cox and Gilbert have collected mostly successes (and one or two flops) in "The Oxford Book of English Ghost Stories" and its companion volume, "The Oxford Book of Victorian Ghost Stories." If you suffer from what Virginia Woolf called "the strange human craving for the pleasure of feeling afraid," both of these volumes will satisfy. Each contains a good mix of familiar and lesser-known ghost stories.
Here is a sampling from 'English Ghost Stories':
"The Monkey's Paw" by W.W. Jacobs -- A horrible variant on 'Be careful what you wish for. It might just come true.' This is a sad, frightening story--maybe 'the' perfect tale of the supernatural.
"The Confession of Charles Linkworth" by E.F. Benson -- A telephone call from a hanged man.
"Man-Size in Marble" by E. Nesbit -- An overly sweet Victorian marriage comes to a tragic end on All Saints' Eve.Read more ›
My personal favorite is probably "Smee," the quintessential between-the-wars British country house ghost story. Perhaps a scary little teleplay with Jeremy Irons, Hugh Grant and Judy Davis?