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Ghosts – or the (Nearly) Invisible

Spectral Phenomena in Literature and the Media


Maria Fleischhack and Elmar Schenkel

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.

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The Ghost as a Metaphor for Memory in the Irish Literary Psyche


Abstract: According to traditional belief, a ghost is an apparition; it is thought to be the spirit or the soul of a dead person haunting the living. In literature, however, I would like to argue that the ghost becomes a metaphor for memory, or as Tabitha King suggests, “the ghost is almost always a metaphor for the weight of the past”. This idea, then, is particularly apt with regard to the Irish literary psyche. Due to Ireland’s battle with the repercussions of a colonial past, its history of emigration, as well as bearing in mind the recent abuse scandals that have come to light concerning the Catholic Church, the struggle with the past is a theme deeply ingrained in Irish culture. In turn, remembering as a means to construct a sense of self via narrative lies at the heart of Irish literature. Anne Enright’s 2007 novel The Gathering serves as only one example of the ghost as a metaphor for memory in contemporary Irish literature. The narrator, Veronica, part of the new Ireland and still profiting from the wealth of the Celtic Tiger years, is haunted by the memory of her dead brother Liam; the murky family past is set against Veronica’s neat and middle-class existence, her brother’s tragic fate manipulating the narrator’s present. In the novel, meaning derives only from the context of Liam’s death. Using Enright’s novel as a prime case study as well as briefly discussing other examples of contemporary Irish literature such as Frank...

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