Free Reading The Oxford Book of Twentieth-Century Ghost StoriesAuthor Michael Cox – Sharkmotorcyclehelmets.co.uk
The Oxford Book of Twentieth-Century Ghost Stories
11 September 2019
A fairly good anthology on the subject, although the editor seems to have a bias towards the respectable end of the genre, meaning that many of the best writers in the genre are excluded This was rather irritating to me, because I would rather read a good, creepy ghost story than a pretentious attempt at giving it some sort of literary credibility In particular, the absence of Ramsey Campbell is particularly irksome, seeing that his works are to the final third of the 20th century what James s are to the first third, and Aickman s are to the second The book does, however, contain plenty of good stories, some of which I have not previously read The stories are In The DarkA series of unsettling events lead a man to confess to murder Interestingly, the author provides an alternate rational explanation to the events.RooumAn engineer is haunted by a strange running figure, which seems to have some sort of effect on his health whenever it touches him Unnerving and enigmatic.The Shadowy ThirdA house is haunted by a ghostly child which only is visible to some of the characters The narrator tries to prove that it exists in order to prevent the elderly owner of the house from being declared insane.The Diary Of Mr PoynterA man who purchases an old book finds a peculiar scrap of fabric in it His attempt at getting curtains made in the pattern found on the scrap leads to an encounter with a typically frightening Jamesian spectre One of the best in the volume, unsurprisingly.Mrs Porter and Miss AllenThe protagonist, Miss Allen, is hired to care for an elderly woman, Mrs Porter However, Mrs Porter seems to be afraid of something Some nicely creepy scenes in this one.The Nature Of The EvidenceAfter the death of his first wife, a man remarries The first wife comes back from the dead and interferes Night FearsA police officer on a foggy street encounters a strange man, who has an increasingly unsettling conversation with him Great atmosphere and a truly unnerving ghost.BewitchedNicely atmospheric New England ghost story, full of mysterious footprints and illnesses that may be supernatural in origin Quite good.A Short Trip HomeThe protagonist becomes suspicious of the influence a strange man seems to have over one of his the protagonist s friends More unsettling than I expected going into it.Blind Man s BuffA man moves into an old house The lights don t work, and he thinks that something else is inside with him One of the most frightening stories in the collection.The BlackmailersThis one is hard to summarize without giving away the ending.Yesterday StreetA man decides to visit the street he once lived on, and meets some people from his past.Smoke GhostEach day on the way to work, the protagonist sees something on the roof of a building that he passes by Things get even creepier from there One of the classic ghost stories, for good reason.The Cheery SoulThe protagonist is invited to stay at the house of an acquaintance When they arrive, they find the hosts absent and strange messages written throughout the house.All But EmptyA man has an unsettling encounter at a movie theater A twist ending story.Three Miles UpSome people on a canal trip pick up a strange woman As their trip continues, they have several unsettling experiences A very atmospheric story with a truly strange ending that borders on the lovecraftian and also recalls the much recent The Fisherman One of my favourites in the book.Close Behind HimAfter a burglary goes wrong, some minor criminals find themselves haunted by an invisible being Arguably a vampire story than a ghost story but still quite atmospheric and interesting.The QuincunxA man inherits an old house, and becomes convinced that the ghost of its previous owner is trying to prevent him from finding something Quite unnerving and atmospheric.The TowerWhile vacationing in Italy, a woman decides to visit an old tower which the locals seem to fear One of the most terrifying stories in the collection, this one is highly recommended Read this one carefully, and pay close attention to the numbers.Poor GirlA woman is hired as a governess for an annoying kid, his parents are also annoying, some slightly ghostly things happen that don t amount to much I found this story to be, quite frankly, boring and the ghost story elements don t really have anything to do with the plot The weakest story so far.I Kiss Your ShadowA man is tormented by the shadow of a woman he knew Unlike the last story, this one is definitely a horror story, featuring mysterious suicides and a disturbing climax in a graveyard Quite good.A Woman Seldom FoundA guy visiting Rome meets a strange woman on a dark street When he comes with her to her house, he finds that she isn t quite human Not strictly a ghost story, but quite intriguing with an memorably grotesque final paragraph.The Portabello RoadA ghost describes the events of their life leading up to death This one strikes me as being a mainstream literary story with a slight supernatural element to justify how the narrator can know certain things than a true ghost story.Ringing The ChangesThe protagonists visit a rundown seaside resort where a strange ritual involving bells is being performed Full of subtly unsettling details, this is one of the great folk horror stories.On TermsThe main thing I noticed in this story was the apparent omission of several commas Otherwise, I didn t get it.The Only StoryA man who is already in an unstable condition sees weird people appear in his house Reminiscent of the sort of story one finds in the classic Shadows series of anthologies I didn t quite get it, but that may be because I got distracted by a Chuck Berry song that came on the radio halfway through my reading of it Still a neat story.The Loves Of Lady PurpleA gothic ish story about a traveling carnival and a sinister puppet Rather intriguing.Revenant As Typewriter An odd piece combining ghostly possession with a mid life crisis Not quite my thing, probably because I m only 20 as of this writing.The Little Dirty GirlA story of a ghostly child who attaches herself to a college professor Like several other stories here, I have read this one before, but I don t object to rereading it.Watching Me, Watching YouA fairly standard domestic drama, told from the point of view of a ghost haunting the house where it occurs.The July GhostThis one didn t really do much for me Something about a ghost child, who doesn t really do anything, just stands around in the area where it died.The HighboyA story about a malevolent cabinet Not strictly a ghost story, but at least it tried to frighten, which is than can be said for the last few stories The atmosphere isn t right for a horror story, though.The Meeting HouseA story about how the titular building became haunted Nicely atmospheric, although not particularly frightening. 3.5 starsThe introduction, were I to give it a rating, would be 5 stars I especially enjoyed the bit detailing the connection between ghost stories and social issues.Favorites and my recommendations for those who dislike reading anthologies straight through Night Fears by L P Hartley A Short Trip Home by F Scott Fitzgerald Yesterday Street by Thomas Burke Smoke Ghost by Fritz Leiber The Tower by Marghanita Laski Poor Girl by Elizabeth Taylor A Woman Seldom Found by William Sansom Portobello Road by Muriel Spark Watching Me, Watching You by Fay Weldon The Ghosts Of Fiction Were Not Killed Off By The Advent Of The Electric Light, The Invention Of The Telephone, The Coming Of The Motor Car, Or Even By The Once Unthinkable Horrors Of Technological Warfare Instead They Took Over The Trappings, Landscapes, And Cultural Assumptions Of The Twentieth Century For Their Ancient Purposes Thus Michael Cox Introduces The Oxford Book Of Twentieth Century Ghost Stories, A Unique Collection Of Of The Best And Most Chilling Ghost Stories Of Our Era The First Anthology To Trace The Evolution Of The Ghost Story Over The Last One Hundred Years, This Book Demonstrates The Variety And Versatility Of The Genre And The Different Ways In Which Stories Of The Supernatural Have Adapted To Twentieth Century Venues And Concerns In These Tales We Encounter Not Only The Returning Dead, But Also Distinctly Modern Phantoms A Haunted Typewriter, A Ghost That Travels By Train, And An Urban Specter Made Of Smoke And Soot There Are Child Ghosts And Haunted Houses, Playful Spooks And Deadly Apparitions The Authors Of These Uncanny Tales Are As Diverse As The Kinds Of Stories They Tell There Are Ghost Stories By Such Specialists As MR James And Algernon Blackwood And Many By Authors Not Commonly Associated With The Genre F Scott Fitzgerald, Edith Wharton, Graham Greene, AS Byatt, And Angela Carter Are Only A Few Of The Literary Celebrities Included In This Collection At A Time When Our Era Seems To Grow Increasingly Rational And Predictable, The Oxford Book Of Twentieth Century Ghost Stories Reminds Us Of The Joys Of Uncertainty And Wonder Distinctive And Gripping, These Stories Will Linger Long In The Memory I think I can confidently say that this is the best collection of horror stories I ve ever read There were a few weak stories in the bunch, but the good ones than made up for it Not all of them were frightening Some were humorous, others heart warming The mix of stories was a pleasant surprise Standouts included In the Dark by E Nesbit The Blackmailers By Algernon Blackwood Yesterday Street by Thomas Burke Smoke Ghost By Fritz Leiber Jr Three Miles Up By Elizabeth Jane Howard Close Behind Him By John Wyndham The Tower By Marghanita Laski I Kiss Your Shadow By Robert Bloch A Woman Seldom Found By William Sansom The Loves of Lady Purple By Angela CarterHighly recommended. Its a mixed bag, like anything like this will be, but some brilliant stories in this book William Trevor The Only StoryFritz Leiber The Smoke GhostF Scott Fitzgerald The Short Trip HomeAny of the above would be worth the price of the whole book really. Great read This book was a culmination of many interesting ghost stories wrong throughout the twentieth century, including one by F Scott Fitzgerald I thoroughly enjoyed reading each story and seeing how the style of writing changed over the course of the century. I was pretty iffy about this book I haven t had the best track record with ghost stories But this one was really good I couldn t believe it I highly recommend this book to anyone whose into ghost horror stories. A great mix of short stories, from your scary stories to the unconventional so didn t seem like your stereotypical ghost story book, still not to be read before bed though I picked this collection up purely for the Robert Aickman story, since his books are almost nowhere to be found in the States I then went back and started reading from the beginning Am enjoying the various ghost stories from writers like Graham Greene, Edith Wharton and F Scott Fitzgerald. There are a whopping thirty three stories to be found in this anthology, ordered chronologically from 1910 to 1994 Two fine tales bookend the entire collection E Nesbit s In the Dark is the opener, while the grand finale is Jane Gardam s hackle raising The Meeting House, completing an entire book of short but memorable tales Like most anthologies, there will be something for everyone here, and also like most anthologies, it s a mixed bag of good, great, excellent, and oh my god yes And while for me there really is nothing better than the old classic ghost stories, some of these modern ones should be taken just as seriously.I was quite delighted to discover some of my favorite writers on display here, for example Angela Carter, May Sinclair, Elizabeth Jane Howard, and Robert Aickman, along with other writers whose names are legend in the realm of ghost story writing and some whose appearance is a nice surprise I am also delighted to see so many women writers represented in this collection, and it s definitely a book serious readers of ghostly tales should include in their home libraries It s certainly one I d recommend.much here.