Books: Self-Conscious Ghosts

A BOOK OF MODERN GHOSTS (236 pp.) —Edited by Cynthia Asquith—Scribner ($3).

The modern English ghost stories in this anthology do not have the shudder value of the old bloody-head and clinking-chain school. Instead of haunting damp Ruddigorean castles, most contemporary ghosts seem to have settled into fashionable flats, where they play hob with the call bells and the central heating. Moreover, the authors in Editor Asquith's collection have adulterated an old-fashioned art form with Freudian complexes and social crisis; they have forgotten that the one thing a ghost story does not need is a rational explanation.

Tradition has not been abandoned entirely....

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