Night Visitors

PDF-file by Julia Briggs

Night Visitors PDF ebook download I loved this perceptive analysis of the history of the ghost story, not only for its insights into lots of my favourite chillers, but as another reviewer says, it offers huge encouragement to get onto Project Gutenberg and seek out long forgotten examples of the ghost story. In some ways this is a developmental history of the genre, from the re-tellings of folk tales of Stevenson and Scott, through the fashions for decadence and hallucinogenics, to the restrained psychological tales of the 20th century.My favourite chapters were those on the two Jameses (how coincidental is it, that two of the greatest proponents share a surname?) Henry James, was of course a master of atmosphere, of the shadowy English twilight, while M R James achieved menacing, terrifying effects in short and crisp prose. A thrilling discovery was the bounty of Kipling’s early stories, particularly those malaria inspired tales written in India when a clerk, as the colonial experience is one that seems to lend itself particularly to hauntings. Walter de la Mare has always struck me as a deeply underrated writer, so an analysis of his ghost stories was well overdue. In fact there are dozens of little gems, from Hawthorne and Vernon Lee to Thomas Hardy’s poems and offerings from Yeats and Eliot.
Unfortunately this book is now so rare and expensive that I could only obtain it from a library. However, I would dearly love to possess it and photocopied my favourite pages. I’ll leave you with a stanza from Kipling that sums up the mood of the book, that I copied out (from ‘The House of Suddhoo’):
‘A stones’s throw out on either hand
From that well-ordered road we tread,
And all the world is wild and strange;
Churel and ghoul and Djinn and sprite
Shall bear us company tonight,
For we have reached the Oldest Land,
Wherein the Powers of Darkness Range.'

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