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The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton (Tales of Mystery & the Supernatural)

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  1,966 ratings  ·  144 reviews
"'No, I don't believe in ghosts, but I'm afraid of them,' is much more than the cheap paradox it seems to many. To 'believe,' in that sense, is a conscious act of the intellect, and it is in the warm darkness of the prenatal fluid far below our conscious reason that the faculty dwells with which we apprehend ghosts." Edith Wharton, known for her keen observations of an emo ...more
Paperback, 270 pages
Published January 18th 1996 by Virago (first published 1973)
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Bill  Kerwin

If you read about ghosts in order to be filled with dread, then Edith Wharton may not be your favorite supernatural author. On the other hand, if you are a fan of elegant realistic fiction but like a few chills from time to time, Wharton's ghost tales may belong at the top of your list. Each of her stories is a subtle exercise rooted in everyday reality, and the ghostly presences--such as they are--emerge from the nourishing soil that constitutes her finely crafted realism. Many of her stories t
Some might feel that Wharton was out of her element here, but I found these perfectly jewel-like tales. They are, as is to be expected, stylistically elegant -- Wharton doesn't lower her standards just because she's writing in a sometimes-maligned genre. These are classic "literary" ghost tales, best appreciated for the subtle shadings of tone and rich evocation of atmosphere. There are (this being Wharton, after all) heavy infusions of social class and the weight this imposes on the central cha ...more
Apr 14, 2011 Sue rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who enjoy Wharton or classic ghost stories
Edith Wharton has written what I term "genteel" ghost stories, with a variation in success if achieving a sense of mood and dread are the measure. There are several that I specifically enjoyed, "Afterward", "Kerfol", "The Triumph of Night", "Mr Jones". All are well written of course (it seems silly of me to judge Wharton). If I judge them as ghost stories then some don't seem as successful. "Eyes" in particular seems a let down (as discussed in the story section).

Overall though I find the storie
The rating is probably between 2 and 3 stars, so I'm rounding up. These stories were well-written and eerie in the proper sense, but I was continually frustrated by the lack of explanation or even resolution at the end of each one. Being eighty to one hundred years years old, the tales were "creepy" rather than terrifying, although there were a few scenes that gave me a chill. Nothing overly original, here -- although, again, they might have been when they were written.
I found several of these to be rather anti-climactic, but the longer, more character-driven stories worked really well: "Afterward", about a husband and wife who buy an old country estate with a ghost they won't know about until "long, long afterward"; "The Triumph of Night", in which a doppelganger threatens an ill young man; and "The Pomegranate Seed", a chilling tale of a second marriage and a first wife who won't let go.
One has difficulty imagining Edith Wharton being big into ghost stories, until one realizes what Wharton thought constituted a ghost story is so very schoolmarmy. It's the haunted house equivalent of hanging up some sheets and putting up doleful lights. Under the right suggestion, some may be scared, but most will be hard-pressed to get any suggestion of ghostliness out from the impenetrable coyness of Wharton's prose here. (One pines for the luridness of Poe.)

In the better stories of this group
Who Are the “Real” Ghosts?

Up to now I have never read anything by Edith Wharton but after these 15 fascinating ghost stories Mrs. Wharton is definitely on my reading list. I would be hard put to choose my favourite from among those tales of the supernatural but if I had to make a choice, I would probably vote for “Bewitched”, where a married farmer is haunted by the ghost of a young woman with whom he seems to be carrying on an affair. (view spoiler)
Despite my disappointment with a few of the selections, overall, I found this to be a good, entertaining -- even occasionally enlightening -- read. Wharton's narrative is generally unclouded, direct. Her dialogue is so-so, psychological insights neither prolific nor particularly poignant, though insights do occur, and when they do, they are handled well, with interesting results. Probably Wharton's greatest strength is her power of description, as in the sleeper story, "Bewitched," where the rea ...more
I love Edith Wharton and I love ghost stories, and though this collection comes up a little short with a few tales that simply didn’t age too well, Wharton comes through with a few classics that make the book well worth reading – namely, the beautifully thought out “Afterward,” (probably the best story here, and the one most widely considered to be a classic among this collection), the similarly themed “Pomegranate Seed” (like “Afterward” it features a woman who cruelly loses her husband to an i ...more
I loved this collection of short stories - I haven't read any of Edith Wharton's novels, but I really want to after this. The writing is absolutely excellent - the perfect balance of intrigue, satire and subtlety, with a hint of humour. The tales are just macabre enough to hold your attention without being too obvious or sensational, and they're all the perfect length. My favourite thing about many of these stories was that they are very open-ended, open to all kinds of interpretation - the ghos ...more
Lee Anne
The first few stories in this collection had me nervous--not because they were scary, but because they were not. There was a faint taste of bad Poe (There's a reason some of Poe's stories are classics, and some aren't. Trust me on this.), and I went so far as to fear these stories would make me like Edith Wharton less.

Thankfully, each story was a little better than the one preceding it. My favorite was Kerfol, about a vengeful pack of ghost dogs. This would make a good ghost story collection fo
I read this book for the first time nearly twenty years ago. My book club is reading it now for our late October meeting. I gave this book five stars based on my first reading. I'm eager to see what I think of it nearly twenty years later.

I have now completed my second reading and was delighted by this collection of ghost stories. I will grant that many of the endings are enigmatic and elliptical, but the progress of each story is so beautifully written that I will keep my five-star rating for
Fantasy Svet
„Nedávno jsem četla v knize jednoho módního esejisty, že duchové odešli, když přišlo elektrické světlo. Takový nesmysl! Ten autor se sice rád literárně babrá v otázkách nadpřirozena, ale zatím nedospěl ani na práh svého námětu. Kdybych si měla vybrat mezi věžatými hrady s cimbuřím, kde obcházejí bezhlavé oběti s řinčícími řetězy, a útulným předměstským domkem s ledničkou a ústředním topením, místo, kde bych, jakmile vejdu, cítila, že je tu něco v nepořádku, tak jsem vždycky pro tu druhou možnost ...more
"'¿Cree usted en los fantasmas?' La pregunta que Edith Wharton nos lanza desde el prefacio que se incluye en esta edición de Relatos de fantasmas (...), es casi una provocación, un reto para que nos atrevamos a demostrar que somos capaces de resistir ese escalofrío irracional ante una buena historia de miedo. A pesar de que al lector moderno le separa casi un siglo de la mayoría de las historias, su lectura deja una extraña desazón que dura hasta b
On the other hand, Edith Wharton is a fantastic twentieth century author. Though I find her full length books a bit meandering, she is the master of the short story. (I have similar feelings about Henry James.) All of these ghost stories are interesting, easy to read, and paint a fabulous picture of life in the early twentieth century in New England and abroad. Even if you couldn't quite stomach The Age of Innocence or The House of Mirth, any collection of her stories is worth a second look.
Questa recensione sarà breve e noiosa perché:

1- Edith Warthon non è in grado di scrivere storie di fantasmi
2- Questi racconti somigliano troppo a quelli di autori più famosi: Oscar Wilde per quanto riguarda il primo e Poe per il secondo.
3- Il terzo racconto manco l'ho letto perché, sinceramente, non ce l'ho proprio fatta.

Edith cara spero sia stata una svista dovuta alla noia. Non farlo più.
These stories are somewhat clever, but not very scary. The only story that I found even remotely scary was about a French chateau that was haunted by dogs. I know it sounds stupid, but it kind of creeped me out. However, the rest of the stories were pretty predictable--they might have scared you if you were living in 1910 and reading them by candlelight, but they're not going to scare you in today's world.
I reserved this from the library not long after finishing ‘The Age of Innocence’, which I thoroughly enjoyed; in fact I saw it listed in the back of that edition and found myself surprised that the author had penned stories of this nature, though in retrospect it’s a genre which suits her insular, ruminative style extremely well.

This is something of a mixed bag. Some of the stories are rather predictable and formulaic, and while they might sometimes give up a flash of brilliant imagery, they’re
Sep 16, 2009 Sillymuse rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anybody who loves to be scared instead of grossed out.
Clive Barker, Stephen King, the unending parade of Halloween movies pass for "horror" but are usually just graphic "ewwww". Wharton's stories will creep into your consciousness and unexpectedly wake you in the night with dreams of unease and dread. Any opportunity to watch the BBC adaptations of these stories is not to be missed -- just keep the lights on.

This is the perfect collection of ghost stories for readers who are a little faint of heart when it comes to scary tales and the supernatural as they are a little predictable and not overly terrifying. Wharton's writing is, of course, wonderful and flows beautifully.

My personal favorite was Pomegranate Seed.
Ignacio Senao f
Siempre he leído que M.R. James es el mejor escritor de relatos de fantasma, pero cuando me leí todo sus relatos, supe que no me gustaba nada, demasiado repetitivo y poco original para nuestra actualidad. Ahora sé que Edith Wharton si que es la mejor escritor de historias de fantasmas.

Tal como dice en sus notas, paso mucho miedo en toda su vida, todo por una enfermedad que la tuvo en la línea de la vida y la muerte. Esto lo refleja aquí, con relatos muy originales incluso en nuestro presnete, la
(insert spooky noise here)
Christopher Sutch
This is a very fine selection of Wharton's ghost stories (though, like Henry James, whether there are "actually" ghosts in some of the stories is debatable). There were only a couple of stories that didn't really work for me ("Kerfol" for example, in which the historical account that forms the majority of the tale makes the "ghost story" description too abstract to properly describe this story). Wharton's ghost stories, like much of her other fiction, is really concerned with social and interper ...more
As recommended by the author, I am trying to give these stories the "silence and continuity" they need to be appreciated fully- this is taking longer than I thought.

I am glad that I took the time to read these stories without distractions- it gives the stories time to seep into your brain and send chills down your spine. Sometimes more chills than others, but they were all good stories.

Wharton also made a statement in the preface that I found amazingly applicable to our times considering that
Rating this is a challenge - Edith Wharton is an exceptional writer, and some of the lines in these stories fair glowed off the page in their perfection.
And yet... almost all of the stories failed to impress. This one had a strange ending. That one had no ending. That one...well, something happened, but I'll be damned if I can figure out what she was getting at. (This last may be due to familiarity with the time period and fiction from it - of which my familiarity is limited to two novels by Edi
Isadora Wagner
Recommended. I enjoyed the imaginative and haunting "Kerfol" and "Permission Seed." In many ways, Wharton reminded me of a muted down Elizabeth Bowen. While both women are interesting studies from the female gothic camp, I rather think I prefer Bowen's fictional vigor to what can seem, at times, arcane and tepid in Wharton's post-Victorian era work. I have to remind myself that Wharton was a child of the Victorian age and preceded Bowen by half a lifetime, the one writing at the beginning of mod ...more
Edith Wharton's collection of ghost stories opens with a foreword that sets the tone for the tales that follow. Wharton admits that what is frightening to one is not necessarily frightening to another, but the stories of her collection play on her personal definition of "scary". In the ensuing eleven stories, themes of unfamiliar locales--usually cavernous, long-abandoned old family estates--and supernatural ghostly apparitions abound, generally leaving the reader sufficiently creeped out. What ...more
Elizabeth Yon
I had never thought of the peerless Edith Wharton as a writer of ghost stories (think, instead, Ethan Frome, Hudson River Bracketed, and others). I love Wharton's writing, though, so I was curious to see what she could do with the genre. What she can do is deftly weave a shroud of vague yet insistent terror, much like a ghost itself. She keeps strictly to the ghost story bailiwick, never veering into the bloodier domain of the horror writer, and spins out her tales with such a soft yet masterful ...more
Patrick Limcaco
I may have prematurely declared that The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton is very scary because after finishing it, I realized that most of the stories do not have the quality of a really good scary movie or book, the kind that stays with you long after you consumed them. I think the scare factor has a lot to do with where each story was read. For instance, I read ‘The Eyes’ on my way to work, in a bus, J. Lo’s This is Me… Then, a ridiculous album with a ridiculous album title, playing on the iPod ...more
It probably deserves more than 3 stars, but that's what I'm giving it. I think I'm learning 'psychological horror' means 'too subtle for me when I'm in the mood for a Halloween story.'

There are some cool stories in this collection - Afterward, Bewitched and All Souls are not to be missed. Of equal interest are the preface, wherein Wharton notes that ghosts are in decline as the modern age gets more modern (they just don't fit well next to refrigerators and electric lights), and the ending note w
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Edith Newbold Jones was born into such wealth and privilege that her family inspired the phrase "keeping up with the Joneses." The youngest of three children, Edith spent her early years touring Europe with her parents and, upon the family's return to the United States, enjoyed a privileged childhood in New York and Newport, Rhode Island. Edith's creativity and talent soon became obvious: By the a ...more
More about Edith Wharton...

Other Books in the Series

Tales of Mystery & the Supernatural (1 - 10 of 62 books)
  • An Arsène Lupin Omnibus
  • Australian Ghost Stories
  • The Beetle
  • The Bell in the Fog & Other Stories
  • The Black Veil & Other Tales of Supernatural Sleuths
  • Carnacki, the Ghost Finder
  • Casebook of Sexton Blake
  • The Casefiles of Mr. J.G. Reeder
  • The Castle of Otranto, Vathek & Nightmare Abbey
  • Children of the Night: Classic Vampire Stories
The Age of Innocence The House of Mirth Ethan Frome Ethan Frome and Other Short Fiction The Custom of the Country

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“But I have sometimes thought that a woman's nature is like a great house full of rooms: there is the hall, through which everyone passes in going in and out; the drawing-room, where one receives formal visits; the sitting-room, where the members of the family come and go as they list; but beyond that, far beyond, are other rooms, the handles of whose doors perhaps are never turned; no one knows the way to them, no one knows whither they lead; and in the innermost room, the holy of holies, the soul sits alone and waits for a footstep that never comes.” 55 likes
“For hours she had lain in a kind of gentle torpor, not unlike that sweet lassitude which masters one in the hush of a midsummer noon, when the heat seems to have silenced the very birds and insects, and, lying sunk in the tasselled meadow grasses, one looks up through a level roofing of maple-leaves at the vast, shadowless, and unsuggestive blue.” 3 likes
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