04
May
09

ghost classic

salon’s laura miller & the publisher’s weekly starred blurb compare sarah waters’ new novel the little stranger to shirley jackson’s the haunting of hill house, which intrigues me — and i don’t go for ghost stories much

Ghosts are not supposed to exist, which is one reason why ghost stories are often about things that people try to deny. The rage and sexual longings of lonely, well-bred women, for example, infuse the two great classics of the form: Henry James’ “Turn of the Screw” and Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. Sarah Waters’ masterly, enthralling new novel, The Little Stranger, hews to the essential aspects of the traditional ghost story: the big spooky country house with a tragic past, the peculiar noises and eerie events that slowly intensify into a terrifying assault, the blurring line between internal turmoil and external phenomena, the skeptical scientific observer nudged ever closer to belief. Yet Waters has boldly reassigned all these gothic motifs from their usual Freudian duties to another detail entirely: The Little Stranger is about class, and the unavoidable yet lamentable price paid when venerable social hierarchies begin to erode.

last one i read was algernon blackwood’s “the willows,” which kicks ass.

all i know of waters is the BBC version of tipping the velvet, which wasn’t bad and set me looking for more jodhi may movies. . .

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