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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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Haunting the Wide, White Page – Ghosts in Antarctica


Abstract: Antarctica is not only the coldest and most desolate place on earth, it is also the most haunted one. According to statistics, for every 9.62 inhabitants (albeit temporary) in the Far South, there roams one ghost to haunt them. The ice sheets of Antarctica serve as an enormous freezer, not only safeguarding thousands of years of history in its numerous layers, but also preserving deserted huts and stations as well as the bodies of unfortunate explorers. By investigating abandoned places, heroic-era horror stories and real-life accounts, it becomes apparent that Antarctica is a repository for human’s deepest fears and its hidden, forbidden desires. Ghost stories therefore entered the continent as one way of dealing with the spatial and perceptual isolation man is inevitably confronted with on the ice. With the help of allegedly haunted places such as Whaler’s Bay and Scott’s Hut, literary examples like “Bride of the Antarctic” and The White Darkness, as well as real-life accounts by Morton Moyes and Sir Ernest Shackleton, this paper traces the short – but nonetheless “lively” – history of ghosts at the bottom of the world.

Antarctica is the coldest, the windiest, the driest and the highest continent on earth. It is a continent of scale and superlatives, but not a place one might immediately associate with ghosts and their stories. At a closer glance, however, the stereotypical pictures – icebergs, penguins, ice floes – might just as well be replaced by other images – failed expeditions, frostbite, snowbound tents – to evoke...

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