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Complete Ghost Stories (Wordsworth Classics) [Paperback]

Charles Dickens
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Jun 1998 Wordsworth Classics

Interest in supernatural phenomena was high during Charles Dickens’ lifetime. He had always loved a good ghost story himself, particularly at Christmas time, and was open-minded, willing to accept, and indeed put to the test, the existence of spirits.

His natural inclinations toward drama and the macabre made him a brilliant teller of ghost tales, and in the twenty stories presented here, which include his celebrated A Christmas Carol, the full range of his gothic talents can be seen.

Chilling as some of these stories are, Dickens has managed to inject characteristically grotesque comedy as he writes of revenge, insanity, pre-cognition and dream visions, he indulges also in some debunking of contemporary credulity.

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Complete Ghost Stories (Wordsworth Classics) + The Old Curiosity Shop (Wordsworth Classics) + Bleak House (Wordsworth Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions Ltd; New Ed edition (1 Jun 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1853267341
  • ISBN-13: 978-1853267345
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 12.7 x 1.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 22,421 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Charles Dickens was born in 1812 near Portsmouth where his father was a clerk in the navy pay office. The family moved to London in 1823, but their fortunes were severely impaired. Dickens was sent to work in a blacking-warehouse when his father was imprisoned for debt. Both experiences deeply affected the future novelist. In 1833 he began contributing stories to newspapers and magazines, and in 1836 started the serial publication of Pickwick Papers. Thereafter, Dickens published his major novels over the course of the next twenty years, from Nicholas Nickleby to Little Dorrit. He also edited the journals Household Words and All the Year Round. Dickens died in June 1870.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
It's a somewhat uneducated cliché to say 'the old stuff ain't as scary', in an era where horror literature is far more explicit. I'm not an advocate of this school of thought however, proffering to be chilled by the likes of Le Fanu and James rather than grossed out. Dicken's ghost stories are, as the title suggests, stories about ghosts, but do not buy this under the misconception that they are all concocted purely to scare you, for they frequently have designs of a more esoteric nature than that.

'A Christmas Carol' is a morality tale, full of Dickens' often slated sentimentalism, which I nonetheless found infinitely enjoyable. Meanwhile 'The Ghosts Of The Mail' is almost like an adventure story, the likes of which we might expect from Washington Irving. Dickens seems determined to use the ghost story format to explore as many different emotions as possible, so some tales are comical, some sad, and yes some scary. One certainty is that all of the tales contained herein are very entertaining. Dickens' command of prose was, and still is, unmatched and he makes even the slightest details a source of great enjoyment with his profound sense of wit.

As such, I would label this a book of entertaining ghost stories rather than scary ghost stories, though there are exceptions to the rule. 'The Ghost In The Brides Chamber' is very chilling, not to mention rather sinister, and the frequently anthologised 'The Signalman' deserves its frequent 'contender for most chilling tale ever' accolade with absolute worthiness. Both of these tales share much in common with the works of Sheridan Le Fanu in their sense of escalation and presentation of inter-personal relationships, which is a charming comparison if ever there was one.
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57 of 61 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A mixed bag 5 Aug 2006
Here follows an overview of the contents of this volume, for your convenience:

The Queer Chair (The bagman's story) from The Pickwick Papers - extremely funny.

A Madman's Manuscript from The Pickwick Papers - one of the stories that influenced Edgar Allan Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart.

The Goblins who Stole a Sexton from The Pickwick Papers - the predecessor of A Christmas Carol.

The Ghosts of the Mail (The story of the bagman's uncle) from The Pickwick Papers - another funny story.

The Baron of Grogzwig from Nicholas Nickleby - a story that influenced Edgar Allan Poe's The Devil in the Belfry.

A Christmas Carol - no comment needed.

The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain - a haunting story about the value of suffering.

To be Read at Dusk - a pair of stories concerning dreams and visions.

The Ghost in the Bride's Chamber from The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices - a story about a ghost that is doomed to walk the earth for evermore.

The Haunted House - a pair of stories about a house that is haunted by the narrator's own self.

The Trial for Murder (To be taken with a grain of salt) - a story about a murdered man who comes back to see justice done.

The Signalman - No comment needed.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A ghostly evening 6 Feb 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It could have been 1867. Low lights, candles, and the speaker at the desk at the front of the hall as the `ghost stories of Dickens` were read aloud. We laughed, cried, held our breath - the book held the audience spellbound. `Why don`t we read stories aloud anymore?` asked some people. This is the ideal book to start your own reading circle. Thanks.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Complete Ghost Stories 5 Feb 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a good book, and shows that Dickens was a master story teller in a lot of different genres. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Christmas Spirits... 10 Dec 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The Christmas season wouldn't be complete without a good ghost story or two, and in this collection we get twenty. The centrepiece is, of course, the novella length A Christmas Carol, and we also get what is probably Dickens' next best-known ghost story, The Signalman, which is perhaps the most chilling tale in the book. The other stories range from several very short ones through to another novella-length one, The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain.

"When twilight everywhere released the shadows, prisoned up all day, that now closed in and gathered like mustering swarms of ghosts. When they stood lowering, in corners of rooms, and frowned out from behind half-opened doors. When they had full possession of unoccupied apartments. When they danced upon the floors, and walls, and ceilings of inhabited chambers, while the fire was low, and withdrew like ebbing waters when it sprang into a blaze."

The joy of Dickens' ghost stories is that they are truly family reading - not one of them would be unsuitable for reading aloud to a mixed age group. Many of them were first published in one of Dickens' periodicals, All the Year Round or Household Words and were very much intended for the whole family. Others (The Queer Chair, The Goblins who Stole a Sexton, etc.) are taken from the novels, mainly Pickwick Papers, and these are usually more humorous than scary. In fact, humour runs through the majority of the stories, with The Signalman and The Portrait Painter's Story being the main exceptions.

As with any collection, the quality of the stories varies a bit, but even Dickens' less good tales stand up well.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very good value
Published 1 month ago by Victoria M.
5.0 out of 5 stars after one a half centuries still guarantees to thrill and chill
A fascinating and lesser known side of Charles' Dickens work is his flair for ghost stories.
Dickens showed a fascination with ghosts and the macabre and was a masterpiece of... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Gary Selikow
5.0 out of 5 stars review
good book, well packaged, excellent price cannot fault will use service again, happy to recommend to friends and family good item
Published 12 months ago by peter
2.0 out of 5 stars Ghost Stories
The delivery process was very good, the book was in really good shape, however I have to say the the book itself is not that good.
Published 13 months ago by Gonzalo
4.0 out of 5 stars A chilling companion for those dark Christmas nights
Having begun to read this collection last December, I resumed this Yuletide, as Dickens's ghost stories as the title of one printed here demand 'To Be Read at Dusk', ideally at... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Mr. Timothy W. Dumble
5.0 out of 5 stars Complete Ghost Stories
I wanted to read something by Charles Dickens and liked the idea of shorter stories as I can dip in and read the stories at random.
Published 21 months ago by Gwyneth Young
5.0 out of 5 stars Charles Dickens Complete Ghost Stories
This is a lovely little book. Charles Dickens has a way of explaining appearances and environments that make a picture in your mind - the only way I can describe it. Read more
Published on 16 Feb 2012 by April
4.0 out of 5 stars Charles Dickens - Ghost Stories - Start here for some Christmas...
`Is it haunted,' I asked .....`Well,' cried the landlord, in an outburst of frankness that had the appearance of desperation - `I wouldn't sleep in it. Read more
Published on 15 Nov 2010 by Andrea Bowhill
4.0 out of 5 stars excellent excerpts
This is a series of extracts from Dickens and is useful for younger readers in isolating certain passages and stories. Read more
Published on 29 Oct 2009 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Who is signalling who?
This story tantalises as it slips away from the reader's grasp at 'truth'. For where is 'truth' in this story? Read more
Published on 27 Sep 2009 by J. S. Lewison
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