“The Best Ghost Stories” is a collection of twenty-four tales of the supernatural, chosen and edited by Joseph Lewis French. Originally published in 1921, this book has become a classic of the ghost story genre, and is still widely read and appreciated today.
Selection and Organization of Stories
One of the strengths of “The Best Ghost Stories” is its careful selection and organization of stories. French includes a wide variety of tales, from classic Victorian ghost stories to more modern tales of horror and suspense. He also includes stories from a range of authors, from well-known writers like Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft to lesser-known authors like Amelia B. Edwards and Fitz-James O’Brien.
The stories are arrange in a thoughtful and logical order. Beginning with the more traditional and atmospheric ghost stories and gradually moving towards more modern. And psychologically complex tales of horror. This allows the reader to experience a range of different types of ghost stories. And to appreciate the evolution of the genre over time.
Highlights of the Collection
One of the standout stories in the collection is “The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs. This classic tale of a cursed monkey’s paw that grants its owner three wishes is a masterful example of how a seemingly innocuous object can turn into a source of terror and tragedy.
Another highlight is “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. This haunting tale of a woman’s descent into madness is both a chilling ghost story and a powerful commentary on the treatment of women’s mental health in the Victorian era.
Other memorable stories in the collection include “The Haunted and the Haunters” by Edward Bulwer-Lytton. A classic Victorian ghost story with a twist ending. “The Willows” by Algernon Blackwood, a creepy tale of two men who become lost in a swamp. And encounter a malevolent supernatural presence.
Themes and Motifs
One of the recurring themes in “The Best Ghost Stories” is the idea that the supernatural is not necessarily evil or malevolent, but simply beyond human understanding. Many of the stories explore the idea that the ghostly apparitions and supernatural phenomena are simply part of the natural world, and that it is our fear and ignorance that makes them seem threatening.
Another common motif in the stories is the idea of the haunted house or other physical location. In many of the tales, the supernatural presence is tie to a specific location. Whether it is a haunted castle, a cursed mansion, or a sinister forest. This adds to the sense of atmosphere and creates a feeling of claustrophobia and unease.
Writing Style and Language
The writing style and language in “The Best Ghost Stories” varies depending on the author. The time period in which the story was write. Some of the stories, like “The Monkey’s Paw,” are write in a more traditional and ornate Victorian style. While others, like Lovecraft’s “The Call of Cthulhu,” are more modern and streamlined.
Despite the differences in writing style, all of the stories in the collection are well-written and engaging. French has chosen stories that are not only scary and suspenseful, but also thought-provoking and intellectually stimulating.
“The Best Ghost Stories” is a superb collection of tales of the supernatural. French has done an excellent job of selecting and organizing the stories. The range and variety of tales included in the book makes it a must-read for fans of the ghost story genre.