Houses creak, shudder, moan, whistle, and whine. With eye-like windows and doors that appear, at night, like tunnel entrances to the unknown, houses lend themselves to our primal and persistent sense of living among ghosts. It is not difficult to imagine our ancestors conjuring tales of haunted places as they sat around fires casting shadows on cave walls. Folklore is rife with such stories and it is no wonder that our earliest literature—from a letter written by Pliny the Younger (61–c. 112), in which he describes a haunted villa in Athens to One Thousand and One Nights—include accounts of possessed places and eerie abodes.
The notion that houses are repositories of events—even possibly cemeteries of previous occupants—is by no means extinguished by the explanations of toxicologists, physicists, and psychologists. On the contrary, nearly four out of every ten people believe that a house can be haunted. The folklorist Louis C. Jones observed, “It might be expected that a rational age of science would destroy belief in the ability of the dead to return. I think it works the other way: in an age of scientific miracles anything seems possible.”
Contemporary tales like The Amityville Horror and The Haunting of Hill House follow a through line shaped by some of the enduring classics gathered in this collection, among them Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “The Turn of the Screw,” by Henry James and “The Lurking Fear,” by H. P. Lovecraft.
Includes Ann Radcliff’s touchstone essay, “On the Supernatural in Poetry,” which posits the difference between terror and horror, along with brief author biographies.
“When I was dead, my spirit turned
To seek the much-frequented house.”
Price: $14.00 (paperback) | $2.99 (ebook)
Pages: 391 pages
Book dimensions: 5.25 x 1 x 8 inches
Published: August 30, 2019