Saturday, 19 August 2017

Book Review: The Ghost - A Cultural History by Susan Owens

Title: The Ghost: A Cultural History
Author: Susan Owens
Publisher: Tate Publishing
Publication Date: 3 October 2017
Pages: 240
Format: eBook - PDF
Genre: Non-Fiction
Source: ARC via NetGalley

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Ghosts are woven into the very fabric of life. In Britain, every town, village, and great house has a spectral resident, and their enduring popularity in literature, art, folklore, and film attests to their continuing power to fascinate, terrify, and inspire. Our conceptions of ghosts—the fears they provoke, the forms they take—are connected to the conventions and beliefs of each particular era, from the marauding undead of the Middle Ages to the psychologically charged presences of our own age. The ghost is no less than the mirror of the times.

Organized chronologically, this new cultural history features a dazzling range of artists and writers, including William Hogarth, William Blake, Henry Fuseli, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais, Susan Hiller and Jeremy Deller; John Donne, William Shakespeare, Samuel Pepys, Daniel Defoe, Percy and Mary Shelley, Emily Bronte, Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Henry James, Thomas Hardy, Muriel Spark, Hilary Mantel, and Sarah Waters. (Goodreads Synopsis)

The Ghost: A Cultural History was a fascinating read from start to finish. I loved how Owens used social history and the arts to detail the changing attitudes towards ghosts through the ages. The wide range of source material was especially pleasing, with examples ranging from paintings to poems to plays. Personally, I found the earlier chapters the most illuminating, but that's probably because the information from the Victorian era onwards was already familiar to me. This is an easy and delightful read that will please a wide audience: general ghost fans, social historians, arts lovers, and students of folklore. 4.5 stars


  1. Oooh! I'll have to add this to by TBR for October! :)

    1. Hope you enjoy it if you get it. I found it interesting.