7.8.17

Haunted History

Lisa Morton. Ghosts: A Haunted History, reaktion books. (August 2017)
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There is no more iconic entity in supernatural history than the ghost. From the earliest writings such as the Epic of Gilgamesh to today's ghost-hunting reality TV shows, ghosts have chilled the air of nearly every era and every culture in human history - yet there is little evidence to support their existence. This global history of these mysterious apparitions asks what exactly a ghost is, and examines related entities such as poltergeists, wraiths and revenants.

Starting with the spirits of the classical world, including the five-part Egyptian soul and the first haunted house, Ghosts moves on to explore the frightening phantoms of the Middle Ages - which could incinerate priests and devour children - and the nineteenth-century rise of Spiritualism, a religious movement essentially devoted to ghosts. Ghosts around the world vary greatly, from the Indian bhuta to the Hungry Ghosts of China and the spirits of the Day of the Dead in Mexico. Along the way Lisa Morton gathers the ectoplasmic residues seeping from books and film reels, from the Gothic novel The Castle of Otranto to the 2007 blockbuster Paranormal Activity, from the stories of M. R. James to those of Stephen King. Wide-ranging and informative, Ghosts will fascinate anyone, whether they believe in ghosts or not.