Saturday, October 25, 2008

Five best ghost stories

Brad Leithauser, editor of The Norton Book of Ghost Stories, named a five best list of ghost tales for the Wall Street Journal.

One title from his list:
The Turn of the Screw
by Henry James

Henry James (1843-1916) might have achieved his greatest fame with such works of psychological realism as the novella "Daisy Miller" and the novel "The Portrait of a Lady," but he also produced short masterpieces of supernatural fiction, including "Sir Edmund Orme," "The Friends of the Friends" and "Maud-Evelyn." These are rich, emotional stories that employ the supernatural to explore the unlit recesses of the psyche: pathological jealousy, romantic betrayal, necrophilia, etc. Fine as they are, the stories are overshadowed by a novella that may be the greatest ghost tale in the language: "The Turn of the Screw," the tragic story of an inexperienced governess and her two young and beautiful charges. Its genius lies in its bifurcated narration; a reader can embrace two equally plausible but mutually exclusive plot-lines. All is sunshine and gaiety at the story's outset, but the reader soon receives disturbing intimations. Take your choice: The governess is dangerously mad, or she is sane and the beautiful children are covertly satanic.
Read about all five books on Leithauser's list.

--Marshal Zeringue