This morning, I got the notice that Echoing Ghost Stories: Literary Reflections of Oral Tradition is available for sale at Amazon. This anthology features works that capture — or spin — the centuries-long tradition of sharing ghost stories out loud, perhaps at a gathering around the fire. In other words, these are tales written for the ear.
While researching this interesting sub-genre of literary ghost story, I discovered that it’s wrong to think that, once upon a time, ghost stories were only told at Christmastime. Some of the narrative frames in Echoing Ghost Stories set the storytelling on Christmas, but others designate “a winter night” or “a rainy afternoon.” Often, the fictional listeners are gathered around a hearth, but in some cases, it’s at a campfire or simply in the parlor. This is not really a collection of Yuletide ghost stories, then. I cast a wider net than that in my selection process.
The contents includes some well-known authors, such as Harriet Beecher Stowe, Ambrose Bierce, Edith Wharton, and M.R. James. In the case of of Lucy Maud Montgomery, the author might not be as well recognized as her Anne of Green Gables series. There are other authors whose names probably won’t ring a bell along with a few anonymous ones. I’m hoping the mix will grow more and more interesting as my readers see how each artist contributes to the tradition — and how this curious branch of Victorian and Edwardian ghost stories extends and twists.
This is the second volume in the Phantom Traditions Library, a series that resurrects “forgotten” genres and sub-genres of fiction from the 1800s and early 1900s. In each book, you’ll find a well-researched Introduction, helpful footnotes, and an Appendix that spotlights a related non-fiction essay or two from about the same era. More volumes in the library are already planned. In fact, the next one will chart the development of occult detective fiction, a topic I’ve been researching for several years now. In the meantime, please take a look at this site’s pages for Entranced by Eyes of Evil: Tales of Mesmerism and Mystery and Echoing Ghost Stories: Literary Reflections of Oral Tradition.