By Simon Hay (auth.)
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Additional resources for A History of the Modern British Ghost Story
79) And this same heterochronicity structures, as Lukács points out, Scottish life from the fourteenth all the way up to the end of the eighteenth century. For Scott, the belated emergence of capitalism and the British state is a national triumph (Lukács 1983, p. 54). And yet the narrative is not simply triumphalist: a book like Waverley expresses, and invites from its readers, sympathy for those whose eradication modernity demands. Most crucially, he shows ‘the inner necessity of its [clan society’s] tragic downfall’ (p.
Nonetheless, the key characteristic of Mrs Baliol’s narrative is its sympathetic interest in and engagement with its subject, a sympathy already clear in her feelings for the Scottish landscape, but especially marked in her ﬁrst encounter with Elspat, the Highland Widow of the story’s title, of which Mrs Baliol writes that ‘I heard the narrative with a mixture of horror and sympathy . . which at once impelled me to approach the sufferer and speak to her words of comfort, or rather of pity, and at the same time made me afraid to do so’ (pp.
In Amos Tutuola’s My Life in the Bush of Ghosts (1954) the ghosts are primarily the grotesque representatives of indigenous culture in a Nigeria rapidly modernizing and moving towards independence, and so function in relation to some idea of history and inheritance; in Juan Rulfo’s Pedro Páramo (1955) the ghosts are primarily what a community becomes under the modernity of post-revolutionary Mexico. But in both cases the ghosts are more complicated; Tutuola’s ghosts also wield modern technology and introduce colonial practices to the spirit world; Rulfo’s story, on the other hand, might be the more modernist but his ghosts are the more Edwardian.
A History of the Modern British Ghost Story by Simon Hay (auth.)