Restless Spirits

Ghost Stories by American Women, 1872-1926


Just as dreams have long been associated with the unconscious, ghost stories have often served as forums for otherwise unapproachable issues. This volume brings together a lively selection of ghost stories by women writers who use the genre to reveal and challenge prevailing cultural discourses on the nature and status of women. Depicting marriage, motherhood, female sexuality, spinsterhood, widowhood, and the intersection of madness and medical practice, the authors displace their critiques of dominant ideologies onto the supernatural, thus shielding themselves from critical recrimination. Their evocative works provide an invaluable resource for insights into women's writing and lives.

Originally published in popular magazines, the twenty-two stories in this collection are set in all corners of the United States and were written by a range of authors known and unknown, including Edith Wharton, Kate Chopin, and Zora Neale Hurston. Whether depicting a servant who helps save the reputation of her master's dead first wife, a ghostly mother who haunts a stranger until he agrees to adopt her orphaned daughter, or a ghost who revisits her beloved husband only to discover his long-standing preference for her sister, these tales possess great psychological richness and offer first-rate entertainment even as they explore the social and psychological realities of women's lives. Each story is preceded by a biographical headnote.

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