Spectral Phenomena in Literature and the Media
In this volume, ghost stories are studied in the context of their media, their place in history and geography. From prehistory to this day, we have been haunted by our memories, the past itself, by inklings of the future, by events playing outside our lives, and by ourselves. Hence the lure of ghost stories throughout history and presumably prehistory. Science has been a great destroyer of myth and superstition, but at the same time it has created new black boxes which we are filling with our ghostly imagination. In this book, literature from the Middle Ages to Oscar Wilde and Neil Gaiman, children’s stories, folklore and films, ranging from the Antarctic and Russia to Haiti, are covered and show the continuing presence of spectral phenomena.
Ghostly Science or Scientific Ghosts: The Fourth Spatial Dimension in Children’s Literature
Abstract: Ghost stories have always attracted a wide readership and although everybody knows and recognises ‘typical’ ghost stories, it is difficult to find a definition that accommodates the various different forms. This paper understands ghost stories in the widest sense possible and takes a scientific approach to explain certain phenomena. More precisely, it is concerned with the fourth spatial dimension in four book’s for children, namely Tom’s Midnight Garden (1958) by Philippa Pearce, Marianne Dreams (1958) by Catherine Storr, A Wrinkle in Time (1962) by Madeleine L’Engle and The Boy Who Reversed Himself (1986) by William Sleator.
To define a ‘ghost story’ is a difficult if not futile exercise, since one has to consider the cultural background as well as the time frame of the story. After all, although Lisa Morton ascertains that the “belief in ghosts seems to be nearly universal” (Morton 12), she also observes that “even in our own Western European tradition, the very word ‘ghost’ has altered in both meaning and form over the last five or so centuries” (ibid.). M.R. James, for example, “whose collection Ghost Stories of an Antiquary (1904) places him in the very top rank of ghost-tale writers” (Morton 146), never mentioned that “the tale should include a ghost” (Morton 147). Morton speculates that “perhaps the definition of ‘ghost’ was flexible enough for James to extend it to any supernormal creature that could not be easily explained” (Morton 147). This essay will also extend the concept of the...
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