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The Oxford Book of English Ghost Stories (Oxford paperbacks) Paperback – 1 Oct 1989

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Product details

  • Paperback: 523 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; New edition edition (1 Oct. 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192826662
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192826664
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 3 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,777,743 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

"An excellent selection, with an excellent bibliography included. the stories move smoothly through the decades--bringing in the modern and harkening back to the ancient."--Marjorie J. Burns, Portland State University"A splendid book."--The Chicago Tribune"Those who enjoy what Wharton called 'the fun of the shudder'...should shudder over The Oxford Book of Ghost Stories."--The St. Louis Post-Dispatch"Superb."--The Cincinnati Post"The forty-two stories gathered here are luminous examples of how affecting an immaculately wrought ghost story can be....A bounty of wonderful authors."--Booklist"Cox and Gilbert deserve praise for their scholarship and selection....The volume provides an education along with reading pleasure....Only the bravest will read The Oxford Book of Ghost Stories after dark."--Studies in Short Fiction

About the Author

Michael Cox is a publisher and the author of a biography of M.R. James (also available as an Oxford Paperback). He has edited a selection of James's ghost stories for the World's Classics series.R.A. Gilbert is a well-known antiquarian bookseller and an authority on the history of esoteric thought in the nineteenth century.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 43 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 29 May 2001
Format: Paperback
Lest five stars seem excessive for yet another "ghost book", I must say that I think that Cox and Gilbert have produced simply the best one-volume anthology of English-language ghost stories that there has ever been. For all that supernatural fictions have long been popular choices for the anthologist, this collection features more of the best and most enduring English ghost stories than have ever before appeared between two covers. Cox and Gilbert have included virtually all of the necessary favourites and many lesser-known gems as well. All of the major authors in the field are represented by some of their very best work and all the major movements within the English ghost-story are represented as well. For all that I could quibble about one or two inclusions and omissions, I honestly don't think that a better introduction to the English ghost story exists. Unreservedly recommended.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Reader in Tokyo on 21 April 2009
Format: Paperback
This book was published in 1986 and contained 42 short stories by as many writers. There were 35 writers from Great Britain, 4 from the U.S. and 3 from Ireland.

The works ranged from the 1820s (Walter Scott) to the 1960s (Aickman, Simon Raven). All but seven of the works were from the period between 1890 and 1960. Nine of the writers in the collection were women.

The editors tried to select stories that (1) featured -- naturally -- a ghost, (2) described dramatic interaction between the living and the dead, (3) had literary quality, (4) contained definite English settings such as characters, institutions, styles and themes representative of the English ghost story, and (5) weren't overlong. They tried to strike a balance between classics and lesser-known tales and show the development of stories particularly from 1890 to 1940, when they said the genre was at its peak. The pieces from writers outside Great Britain were included because they were deemed to show clearly their English roots.

An introduction briefly surveyed the English ghost story. The editors saw it as beginning to develop into a distinct form in the 1820s with Sir Walter Scott, with maturity furthered by LeFanu and Dickens and the greatest creativity achieved between 1890 and 1940. The contribution of many female authors was noted. The editors stated that at the time of the anthology's publication in the 1980s the literary ghost story still appealed, though it had been overtaken in popularity by science fiction and "crude horror."

Before 1890 or so, stories often went like this: a strange or tragic event occurred, it turned out to be caused by a ghost, especially a bad one, the end. Or someone saw a ghost repeating a tragic event. Later authors offered a much greater variety of tales.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By T. Hayton on 4 Feb. 2009
Format: Paperback
A terrific compilation of traditional ghost stories from classic authors such as Walter Scott, John Buchan and W Somerset Maugham. If you are a fan of MR James or Sheridan Le Fanu you will definitely enjoy this book. All round a satisfying read.

If I were to make a suggestion on how you could improve the book, it would be the inclusion of a more comprehensive introduction, with more detail about the authors and what by what criteria the editors made their selection. However it would be a bit churlish to view this as a criticism, it doesn't detract from the quality of the stories.
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By obol on 22 May 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
They knew how to write a good ghost story back then and prove that it's about the writing and the suspense without needing to resort to sensationalistic horror; great stories and this is a great collection of the best.
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