By Simon Hay (auth.)
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Additional resources for A History of the Modern British Ghost Story
19). The difference between Gothic mummery and the historical setting of a historical novel lies in the latter’s ability to make a reader feel that the present inherits the past: ‘Without a felt relationship to the past, a portrayal of history is impossible . . Scott’s historical novels ‘[bring] the past to life as the prehistory of the present’ (p. 53). This idea of inheritance is complicated, though, as Scott’s novels represent it; more complicated, at least, than it had been in English novels of the eighteenth century.
My plan requires that I should explain the motives on which its action proceeded; and these motives necessarily arose from the feelings, prejudices, and parties, of the times. (p. 24) It is not that Waverley will be without amusement; rather, a character like Cosmo Bradwardine will only register as amusing (‘heterogenous . . in language and habits,’ the narrator calls him – “cosmo” as in “-politan”; p. 41) in historical context. Likewise, a bit later, Edward receives some letters while staying with Fergus: ‘It would be impossible for the reader, even were I to insert the letters at full length, to comprehend the real cause of their being written, without a glance into the interior of the British Cabinet at the period in question’ (p.
The ﬁnal chapter of the book continues to investigate the work that ghosts do outside of the genre of the ghost story, and looks at ghosts in three postcolonial novels. The question here is: how does the British ghost story interact with various local, non-European ghost traditions, in which ghosts mostly stand in not for history in Scott’s sense, history as a narrative of how the present inherits the past, but for an a-temporally distinct, pre-colonial organization of the social. NonEuropean ghosts are often the indigenous spirits of the land, more like wood sprites than restless souls.
A History of the Modern British Ghost Story by Simon Hay (auth.)