The Wrong Turning: Encounters with Ghosts

Stephen Johnson


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Notting Hill Editions
26 August 2021
ISBN: 9781912559305
184 pages

From the publisher

Introduced and edited by broadcaster Stephen Johnson, a curated selection of chilling ghost stories from world literature.

Why do people love ghost stories, even if they don't believe (or say they don't believe) in ghosts? Is it simply the adrenaline rush that comes from being mesmerized and terrified by a great storyteller, or do these tales yield deeper meanings-telling us things about our own inner shadows?

Stephen Johnson brings together some of the most memorable encounters with ghosts in world literature, from Europe, Russia, the United States, and China. Recurring themes and imagery are noted, interpretations suggested-but only suggested, since ambiguity and resistance to rational interpretation are key elements in the best ghost stories.

As the writer Robert Aickman observed, often the decisive moment comes when someone, somehow, makes a "wrong turning"-literally, perhaps, but at the same time psychologically, even morally-and some mysterious nemesis takes over.

Old favorites by M. R. James, Ambrose Bierce, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman are interlaced with extracts from longer works by Emily Bronte, Henry James, and Alexander Pushkin,, along with slightly left-field apparitions from Tove Jansson and Flann O'Brien.

With such expert guides, who knows what we will be led to encounter in the haunted chambers of our minds?