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Want to read more? Subscribe now and get unlimited digital access on web and our smartphone and tablet apps, free for your first month. Particular Books Hardback pp. While the living interpretation of what a ghost is or should be is forever changing, the ghost at the centre of it all remains the same. It seems that the apparitions of antiquity were cut from the very same cloth or winding sheet as more recent spooks.
The ancient Greeks, it seems, where the first to introduce the idea of a ghost as a shrouded apparition mournfully rattling its chains, a couple of millennia before similar spectres could be found wandering through the works of Dickens and Wilde. Unsurprisingly, there is a bias towards Western Europe and America from The Reformation to the present day. Of course, hauntings continued regardless of the prevailing mind-set of the day. But the book soon looses that spark of enthusiasm so clearly present in the opening chapter. Where Clarke stumbles is in the abundance of notes referenced liberally throughout its three-hundred-odd pages.
But these notes continually interrupt the flow of the prose with the reader having to flick constantly to the back of the book to read the notes there are, in some cases, two or three in a single sentence. Some of the notes are completely redundant as the author frequently includes this additional information in a later paragraph anyway. The chapter on Hinton Ampner suffers most here, with Clarke appearing to have way too much information and not knowing what to leave out.
In the same chapter the notes become mixed up, with numbers in the text not matching those in the appendix. I would be super interested in reading more ghostly histories on other parts of the world if you write them, Clarke. Free copy courtesy of St. Martin's Press and Goodreads First Reads, which in no way influences this review Nov 29, Brandi rated it really liked it.
When I first got the book, I became hopeful, especially when I read the summary and realized the tales were from England. Once I started reading, though, I realized it wasn't quite what I hoped for. Whereas there is a lot of interesting information presented in the book, it didn't flow too well.
It seems like the author would be referring to an event that occurred in the 's, Roger Clarke's "Ghosts: It seems like the author would be referring to an event that occurred in the 's, jump to the 's, go back to the 's and so on. It wasn't quite as organized as I would have liked. Also many of the stories, especially towards the beginning of the book, that I found most interesting, were never elaborated on.
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It's almost like he wanted to cram in so many stories that he didn't thoroughly go into detail over many of the more interesting ones. Overall, though, there was a lot of interesting information and stories presented in the book and I did enjoy the author's narration style.
I would probably read another one of his books were I to encounter one. In spite of it's flaws, it is a book that many fans of the paranormal would probably enjoy. This book was won from the Goodreads. Roger Clarke knows his ghosts and he takes an interesting approach to them. Why do we have ghosts? What do they mean besides the obvious — if there is an obvious? He examines various famous hauntings including Cock Lane, the Demon Drummer, various poltergeist episodes, even the Angels of Mons to delve not only into what happened but to what people thought was happening, and what they did about it.
He also looks at the curious way that ghosts seem to be associated with social class. In the Age Roger Clarke knows his ghosts and he takes an interesting approach to them. In the Age of Enlightenment, for instance, only servants were afraid of ghosts.
A Natural History of Ghosts: 500 Years of Hunting for Proof by Roger Clarke
Officers and gentlemen stayed up with loaded pistols ready to deal with the mortal trouble makers who were sure to be behind the disturbances. There were changing fashions in ghost too. Fresh, interesting and well worth reading. When I picked this up I didn't realise the author was much more inclined to believe in the existence of spirits than I.
I'm happy to say our difference of opinion made for an even more engaging read. It was particularly entertaining to watch him repeatedly pull the carpet out from under his own statements in the first few chapters. So he turned the central heating on in an old house and found himself surrounded by strange banging noises all night? I don't mean that to sound snippy. The author's descriptions of historical hauntings are lucidly written, excellently researched and fascinating, especially in the later chapters where his focus moves to the twentieth century.
Relating the stories in roughly chronological order lets the reader see how our attitude towards ghosts has changed through the years, and there are plenty of arresting facts for example: The hardback edition is lovely, too. It is jaw dropping how this author has shown exceptional skill in making such a diverse and fascinating subject into one that is shamefully dull.
Bravo sir, you have provided me with some wonderful reading should I be suffering from a random bout of insomnia, your writing puts me to sleep in minutes. His research is commendable and the subject itself, fascinating, but the writing lacks any real emotion and leaves the overall experience feeling like a monotonous, uninspiring lecture.
Needless to It is jaw dropping how this author has shown exceptional skill in making such a diverse and fascinating subject into one that is shamefully dull. Needless to say I left it unfinished and have moved onto better, bigger things This could have done with a better editor - there's a couple of footnotes that aren't in the right place, some weird typing errors and it would have made sense to organise by chronology, considering Clarke doesn't manage to organise by theme.
Also, it'd be really easy to fake a "ghost" in a spellchecker if you knew how to modify the dictionary file in Word and I'm surprised that Clarke considers it a weird unexpected mystery instead. Then again Clarke really, really wants to believe. I didn't change my view from reading this, I went in thinking it's inconclusive if ghosts exist, but anyone who claims to be able to summon them at will is a liar and fraud. The question at the heart of this book - why do we see ghosts?
There are interesting snippets of information, but the book is let down by its lack of clear organisation and therefore its repetition and frequent referrals back and forth across the book.
This is a well-written and well-researched book, but I was a little disappointed there wasn't more discussion and analysis about what ghosts actually are. I felt that too much of the book was devoted to recounting what's known about historical hauntings, many of which would appear to be faked. Aug 24, Michael Kleen rated it it was amazing. Originally published in Great Britain in , Ghosts: A Natural History by Roger Clarke is an exploration of the subject framed by a taxonomy of eight varieties of ghosts.
Each chapter is a micro history of one or two prominent ghosts and trends in ghost hunting, from the seventeenth century Tedworth House and eighteenth century Hinton House, to the Brown Lady of Raynham Hall and the Borley Rectory in the twentieth. Through these locations and events, Clarke traces a history of not just g Originally published in Great Britain in , Ghosts: Through these locations and events, Clarke traces a history of not just ghosts but the people fascinated by them. With the exception of the haunted German U-boat, U65, all of the discussed locations are in Great Britain.
Clarke describes the British Isles as being particularly overrun with spooks and specters. A Natural History is a wonderful book, rich with fascinating places and characters. Clarke brings to life the people involved in these events, some of whom may surprise you. With one notable exception, Protestant ministers tried to stamp out ghost belief, since ghosts were supposedly souls trapped in purgatory—a thoroughly Catholic notion. However, John Wesley, founder of Methodism, not only believed in ghosts, but poltergeist activity plagued his family home at Epworth as a child.
Class is another theme Clarke returns to throughout the book. The educated gentry and aristocracy, however, has always been fascinated with ghosts. Until recently, formal ghost hunting has been a pastime of the wealthy. In his chapter on mediums and seances in Victorian London, Clarke shows how the upper class thrilled at supernatural performances.
Seances during this time period often took on an explicitly sexual tone.
Ghosts: A Natural History: 500 Years of Searching for Proof
Mediums were usually young, working class women, and the university-educated men who investigated them took full advantage. This also went the other way—Clarke tells of the wealthy older woman who tried to buy her way into marriage with medium Daniel Dunglas Home, who was almost certainly gay. The chapter on ghosts and technology is the weakest of the book. Unlike his other meticulously-researched topics, this felt rushed—almost an afterthought.
The information Clarke presents is interesting, however disjointed. Documented sources are also lacking.
A Natural History of Ghosts: Years of Hunting for Proof by Roger Clarke – This Is Horror
Ghosts contains notes elaborating on topics in the text, with a few sources, but it is not formally sourced the way a work of history should be. Overall, I would rank this with Ghost Hunters by Deborah Blum as among the best histories of ghosts and ghost belief available today. Academic bias has relegated the topic of ghosts to the realm of folklore, but ghost belief has been a notable part of Western culture since the days of Socrates and Plato. A Natural History by Roger Clarke helps illuminate this often-neglected side of history.
Thoroughly enjoyable social history of ghosts and hauntings, how the notions surrounding them have changed following religion, fashion, psychology, and taste. The tone strikes a good balance between scholarly and popular. In the course of tracing the changes in ghost lore, Clarke revisits some of the most famous hauntings and incidents in, mostly, British history and some of this material may be over-familiar to ghost fans. A small criticism though because the point here is not to recount the ev Thoroughly enjoyable social history of ghosts and hauntings, how the notions surrounding them have changed following religion, fashion, psychology, and taste.
A small criticism though because the point here is not to recount the event but to analyze it and the question is never "are ghosts real" but rather "what do ghosts mean? Instructivo y muy divertido. May 07, Michael rated it really liked it Shelves: If you want a solid overview of ghosts, ghost beliefs and a dissection of how class, religion and technology shifts the interpretation of ghosts, this is the book for you. Not so idiosyncratic as to miss out 50 Berkeley Square, Borley Rectory and Cock Lane, mind there are references to Teutonic poltergeists, Babylonian shades and the classical undead, but at heart this is very much a book about the British and even more so the English ghost.
Clarke has the classic British attitude towards ghosts, in that he neither quite believes nor disbelieves or maybe truer to say, he does both, at different times. Anyone can turn out a debunking jeremiad, or a heap of woo for the credulous; crafting something either faction can read with enjoyment or more likely, but just as praiseworthy, something which will irk both parties takes a lot more skill.
This was an intelligent and enjoyable study of years of ghostly encounters and the psychology of folklore. The book was utterly compelling, and unlike other books on the subject, was written in a sober and considered style which "lifted the lid" on some of the 18th and 19th Centuries most notorious hauntings, and posited that "Hauntings" can be as much psychological as they can tangible.
The book is organised into sections covering the Taxonomy of ghosts; pyschological theories of ghosts, an This was an intelligent and enjoyable study of years of ghostly encounters and the psychology of folklore. The book is organised into sections covering the Taxonomy of ghosts; pyschological theories of ghosts, an articulation of the Quantum Theory of ghosts, a more advanced and considered variant of stone tape theory and the significance of Living TV's "Most Haunted" and the service industry that has been fostered by the paranormal and those seeking to "monetise" the paranormal for commercial gain.
The central narrative of the book is concerned with the evolution and democratisation of ghosts by century, and the effect that this has had on the rise and slow decline of organisations such as the SPR and parapsychology as an academic discipline. The accessibility to Ghosts and experiences of the paranormal was once the preserve of the Clergy; Spiritualist Meduims, and professional Ghost Hunters such as Harry Price.
In line with the increased access, the content and form of the Ghost itself has changed from the religious iconoclast of the 16th Century; murderous and mischevious Poltergiest of the 18th and 19th Centuries, through to the "Residual" and "Intelligent Haunting" of the present Century. The Author cover's this evolution in great detail, and whilst the narrative appears critical of the camcorder-weilding glamour pusses whom run around screaming in tunnnels and abandoned prisons, the unearthing of the catalogue of fraud and deception by the Clergy; Spritualists, and unscrupulous property owners of the 18th and 19th centuries suggests that the current mode of investigation varies little from the ongoing historical approaches to the paranormal, only this time, aided and abetted by technological advances and watched by millions worldwide.