Ancestral Shadows: An Anthology of Ghostly Tales

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Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2004 - Fiction - 406 pages
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Widely regarded as the founder of the modern conservative movement, Russell Kirk was a noted man of letters whose prodigious literary output included a syndicated newspaper column, a regular page in "National Review," and many books. This volume demonstrates another compelling side of Kirk -- the imaginative author who could communicate his powerful vision through the dramatic genre of the ghost story.

"Ancestral Shadows" collects nineteen of Kirkbs best ghostly tales from periodicals and anthologies published throughout his life. In the tradition of Defoe, Stevenson, Hawthorne, Coleridge, Poe, and other master writers, these frightful stories conjure the creaks and shadows of the very places where they came to life through Kirkbs pen: haunted St. Andrews, the Isle of Eigg, Kellie Castle, Balcarres House, Durie House (bwhich has the most persistent of all country-house spectresb), and Kirkbs own ancestral spooky house in Mecosta, Michigan.

Full of fantastic gothic tales masterfully told, the volume ends with bA Cautionary Note on the Ghostly Tale, b an incisive piece in which Kirk reflects on why he writes such stories: bexperiments in the moral imaginationb are what he is really after. Ghost stories are not merely entertaining but possess a particular ability to capture the essential features of human nature, of good and evil. bAll important literature has some ethical end, b Kirk says, band the tale of the preternatural -- as written by George Macdonald, C. S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and other masters -- can be an instrument for the recovery of moral order.b

Including an illuminative introduction by Vigen Guroian, "Ancestral Shadows" will enthrall and delight all lovers ofghost stories.


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User Review  - carolus114 - LibraryThing

Edited with an introduction by Vigen Guroian. Kirk's something of a one-trick pony. It's a good trick, and Kirk does it well, but there's a sameness to most of these short stories. There's this guy ... Read full review

Selected pages


Ex Tenebris
Behind the Stumps
Uncle Isaiah
The Surly Sullen Bell
Balgrummos Hell
Lex Talionis
What Shadows We Pursue
Sorworth Place
The Last Gods Dream
The Peculiar Demesne of Archvincar Gerontion
Theres a Long Long Trail AWinding
Watchers at the Strait Gate
The ReflexMan in Whinnymuir Close
The Invasion of the Church of the Holy Ghost

The Cellar of Little Egypt
Fates Purse
The Princess of All Lands
An Encounter by Mortstone Pond

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About the author (2004)

Russell Kirk (1918-1994) was the author of The Conservative Mind; Eliot and His Age; The Roots of American Order; and twenty-six other books in several fields. He was the president of two educational foundations, editor of the quarterly University Bookman, recipient of several literary awards, and visiting distinguished professor on both sides of the Atlantic.

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