HAUNTED BEAUTY: Aesthetics and Mindfulness in the Traditional Ghost Story
by Tim Weldon,
E-BookTime, p/b, $9.95, Web Address
Reviewed by Dave Brzeski
Professor Weldon opens with a useful introduction, laying out his intentions. Those being to examine the popularity of the ghost story, even amongst the literati.
Part One: The All That Lingers gives us chapters on Sense and Setting, Time and Place in which Weldon shows that for a ghost story to work, it needs certain elements. For the most part, no one is going to be convinced by a ghost story that takes place on a crowded beach in mid-afternoon in August. I’ve no doubt some authors of my acquaintance on reading this will take that as a personal challenge. Good luck with that.
Part Two: Thoughts Haunted, covers in two short chapters the significance of Nostalgia and Mystery in the ghost story. In particular the difference between mystery as in the way it’s employed in the crime/detective mystery and the ghost story.
Finally, in Conclusion: The Story and the Solemn Phantom Weldon discusses whether the ghost story can have a greater purpose than to simply entertain. He illustrates this with what is perhaps the most well-known of all ghost stories—‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens.
Weldon does not by any means limit his discussion to authors of a great vintage. He quotes extensively from the works of Charles L. Grant and Stephen King to illustrate his points in a way which might be more familiar to the modern reader. I found it an enjoyable and entertaining read—something so many scholarly works seem to actively avoid. Weldon makes his points clearly and convincingly with well-chosen examples. This book is not likely to provide the ghost story aficionado with a shopping list of books to track down, but it may well provide a better understanding of why the things that work do, in fact, work.
This is a book of literary study, so you can expect it to not be very great value for money in the number of pages for your money sense. That just seems to be the way of things with scholarly non-fiction. It’ll set you back a little over £7.00 on Amazon UK, and a Kindle edition is available for just under £4.50. This is for just 105 pages of quite large print.
Having said that, it’s certainly of considerable interest to aficionados of the classic ghost story.