The Japanese have a lovely line in traditional spook stories- but it took an American- Lafcadio Hearn- to write them down.
Lafcadio Hearn wrote them down in English, but in Japanese the literary genre
goes back centuries
I'd read that Hearn was the first to write them down in any language. Thanks for putting me right.
Lucius Shepard's "The Night of White Bhairab" might be worth a look. It throws some twists on the usual ghost story, and makes use of Tlingit mythology as well as American ghost story tropes.
Sounds interesting. Thanks.
In Aickman's original the cathedral isn't anonymous but quite specifically St Bavon in Ghent. Some- at least- of the objects our English tourist sees are actually there. Aickman set at least one other story in Belgium. Weird little country with a tradition of producing weird art.
Aickman is tremendous.
I find real ghosts to be be emanations of people who , for one reason or another, have not found that eternal rest.I know it is cliche but then sometimes things that disturb the air in a closed room is something close to a ghost. I have felt it in the local pub late at night in which it is roamed by a ghost. It is quite an strange feeling.
Pubs are frequently haunted by sad old soaks looking to vamp off living drinkers.
Also by cheerier souls who don't want to leave the place where they were happy.
And then, of course, there are the jilted barmaids, the murder victims, the highwaymen. A lot of emotional stuff goes down in pubs- of just the kind that generates ghosts.
Spaniards, being the superstitious souls they are traditionally, just don't write that sort of literature that I've seen. Yes, there are mentions of ghosts in some of the classic literature (e.g. the Don Juan story) but as a general rule, even the cemeteries are always as far away from the town as they can put them.
Interesting. This suggests that the Anglo-Saxon and Celtic nations have a somewhat cosier relationship with their dead.
But then there are the Mexicans who celebrate the Day of the Dead with all wealth of details! Of course, that may well be a mix of their native cultures and Spanish Christian belief.
Have you read Kipling's "Them"?
Kipling wrote a lot of supernatural fiction. You could fill quite a fat volume with his Collected Ghost Stories.
One of my favourites is The Dog Hervey. I'd have listed it if it wasn't for a suspicion that it's not quite a ghost story. It's certainly spooky but is there a ghost in it? Probably not
Margaret Oliphant is way underrated as a writer!
She is. Circumstances- meaning the need to make money- turned her into a one woman factory for the production of
whatever it was the market wanted. Had she had the leisure to spend time over her work she might have been one of the greats.
She was certainly capable of greatness- witness The Library Window.
Thanks - there's much to chew on in that discussion, and several recommendations I'm going to pursue.
I think that many of M. R. James's ghost stories are not about ghosts in your sense, but about supernatural evil - malevolent, purposeful evil. And generally, the "more in heaven and earth" argument can be served by the wider genre of strange stories that flourished between 1900 and 1940 - which might encompass not only ghosts but such weirdities as Greek gods in the English countryside (as in Forster's "The Story of a Panic") parallel countrysides (John Metcalfe's "The Bad Lands"), or even things like 'The Angel of Mons' (in Machen's "The Bowmen").
Edited at 2015-08-20 07:51 am (UTC)
And it's not just a literary thing. There was a huge vogue for all things woo- for psychical research, paganism, magic (as something you actually practised), spiritualism, theosophy and so on. Algernon Blackwood- who should have found a niche on my list- probably for "The Wendigo"- was a member of one of the magical fraternities active at the time. And he's a typical figure. Lots of major and minor early 20th century celebs "dabbled" in both literature and the occult- from Yeats (who wrote rituals for the Golden Dawn) to Aleister Crowley- who when he wasn't shocking the Daily Express fancied himself a literary titan (which he wasn't.) Another typical figure is Dion Fortune who not only ran her own magical order but also wrote supernatural novels and stories of some merit. Then there's Charles Williams... Ach, it just goes on and on.
Edited at 2015-08-20 09:38 am (UTC)
I was once told a ghost story about a young man on a motorbike coming to help his friend with university exams. Ever heard that one? I'm fairly sure the guy who told me wouldn't have the wit to make it up himself.
I haven't. I like the idea of a ghost on a motorbike.
Have you read Peter Ackroyd's "Hawksmoor"? Another rare and good ghost-novel.
As for French stories, there's de Maupassant's The Horla, but it's hard to know just what's haunting the narrator there.
Real ghost stories transcribed by folklorists--memorates--are the most boring things to read. About as interesting as unedited transcripts of other peoples' dreams. No atmosphere, minimal setting, banal occurrences--and of course, no plot beyond "And I felt the air move" or "I saw a shadow of nothing on the wall" or "the little girls ran giggling down the hallway." The literary ghost story is completely different.
I have been leading tours to haunted places for some 45 years, and in all that time, I've never felt anything worse than myself, as in the old expression. I've seen two apparitions courtesy of digital cameras held by other people. No possibility of trickery there, as we watched the apparitions forming on the screen.
I like "true" ghost stories. I binge read them sometimes- and feel slightly queasy afterwards.
I've never seen a ghost but I've been around when odd things happened. I captured something anomalous with my digital camera in an old church earlier this year.
I have. I could make out what the hell was supposed to be happening at the end. :(
The Horla's OK. But an invisible thing that blots out the stars? it doesn't quite wash. I'll give it a B-.