Roald Dahl's Book of Ghost Stories

( 9 )

Overview

Who better to investigate the literary spirit world than that supreme connoisseur of the unexpected, Roald Dahl? Of the many permutations of the macabre or bizarre, Dahl was always especially fascinated by the classic ghost story. As he realtes in the erudite introduction to this volume, he read some 749 supernatural tales at the British Museum Library before selecting the 14 that comprise this anthology. "Spookiness is, after all, the real purpose of the ghost story," Dahl writes. "It should give you the creeps ...

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Overview

Who better to investigate the literary spirit world than that supreme connoisseur of the unexpected, Roald Dahl? Of the many permutations of the macabre or bizarre, Dahl was always especially fascinated by the classic ghost story. As he realtes in the erudite introduction to this volume, he read some 749 supernatural tales at the British Museum Library before selecting the 14 that comprise this anthology. "Spookiness is, after all, the real purpose of the ghost story," Dahl writes. "It should give you the creeps and disturb your thoughts." For this superbly disquieting collection, Dahl offers favorite tales by such masterful storytellers as E. F. Benson, J. Sheridan Le Fanu, Rosemary Timperley, and Edith Wharton.

A collection of frightening and spoooky stories by such authors as Robert Aickman, L.P. Hartley, E.F. Benson, Rosemary Timperley, and F. Marion Crawford. "This is the best book of its kind in years."--- Washington Post Book World.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Roald Dahl has selected fourteen of his favorite ghost stories that will deliver chills and goose bumps. "This is the best book of its kind in years."-The Washington Post Book World
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374518684
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 10/28/1984
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 200,755
  • Age range: 12 - 18 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.34 (w) x 8.18 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Meet the Author

Roald Dahl was born in Wales in 1916 and educated in English boarding schools from the age of nine until twenty. During World War II, he was a Royal Air Force fighter pilot in North Africa and Greece. When his active duty was completed, he was transferred to Washington, D.C., where he was asked to write about some of his adventures. A Piece of Cake, his first published work, was an account of a fighter plane crashing in Libya. His first piece of fiction was called The Gremlins, a story about little creatures who make trouble for the Royal Air Force by drilling holes in the planes and wreaking general havoc.

Fifteen years later, Roald Dahl found himself telling bedtime stories to his children over and over again, and those were the basis for James and the Giant Peach, his first published children's novel. After that came Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, to be followed by many others, including The BFG, The Witches, and Matilda.

More can be learned about Roald Dahl in his autobiographical Boy: Tales of Childhood and Going Solo, as well as in the chapter called "Lucky Break" in The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More. Roald Dahl died in 1990 at the age of seventy-four. Although the world lost one of its most beloved authors, what he has left behind is a rich library of wonderful tales for children of today and tomorrow to discover and enjoy.

Biography

"I have never met a boy who so persistently writes the exact opposite of what he means," a teacher once wrote in the young Roald Dahl's report card. "He seems incapable of marshaling his thoughts on paper." From such inauspicious beginnings emerged an immensely successful author whom The Evening Standard would one day dub "one of the greatest children's writers of all time."

Dahl may have been an unenthusiastic student, but he loved adventure stories, and when he finished school he went out into the world to have some adventures of his own. He went abroad as a representative of the Shell corporation in Dar-es-Salaam, and then served in World War II as a pilot in the Royal Air Force. After the war, Dahl began his writing career in earnest, publishing two well-received collections of short stories for adults, along with one flop of a novel.

The short stories, full of tension and subtle psychological horror, didn't seem to presage a children's author. Malcolm Bradbury wrote in The New York Times Book Review, "[Dahl's] characters are usually ignoble: he knows the dog beneath the skin, or works hard to find it." Yet this talent for finding, and exposing, the nastier sides of grown-up behavior served him well in writing for children. As Dahl put it, "Writing is all propaganda, in a sense. You can get at greediness and selfishness by making them look ridiculous. The greatest attribute of a human being is kindness, and all the other qualities like bravery and perseverance are secondary to that."

In 1953, Dahl married the actress Patricia Neal; two of his early children's books, James and the Giant Peach (1961) and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964) grew out of the bedtime stories he made up for their children. Elaine Moss, writing in the Times, called the latter "the funniest children's book I have read in years; not just funny but shot through with a zany pathos which touches the young heart." Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was a colossal hit. A film version starring Gene Wilder was released in 1971 (as Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory), while James and the Giant Peach was made into a movie in 1996.

Dahl followed his initial successes with a string of bestsellers, including Danny, the Champion of the World, The Twits, The BFG, The Witches and Matilda. Some adults objected to the books' violence -- unpleasant characters (like James’s Aunts Sponge and Spiker) tend to get bumped off in grotesque and inventive ways -- but Dahl defended his stories as part of a tradition of gruesome fairy tales in which mean people get what they deserve. "These tales are pretty rough, but the violence is confined to a magical time and place," he said, adding that children like violent stories as long as they're "tied to fantasy and humor." By the time of his death in 1990, Dahl's mischievous wit had captivated so many readers that The Times called him "one of the most widely read and influential writers of our generation."

Good To Know

When Dahl was in school, he and his schoolmates occasionally served as new-product testers for the Cadbury chocolate company. Dahl used to dream of working in a chocolate manufacturer's inventing room. He wrote in his autobiography, "I have no doubt at all that, 35 years later, when I was looking for a plot for my second book for children, I remembered those little cardboard boxes and the newly invented chocolates inside them, and I began to write a book called Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."

Dahl's first book for children, The Gremlins (1943), was a story about the mythical creatures that sabotaged British planes. (Dahl claimed for most of his life that he had coined the term "gremlins," but it had been in use by members of the Royal Air Force for years.) Walt Disney planned to use it as the basis for a movie, but the project was scrapped, and only 5,000 copies of the book were ever printed.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      September 13, 1916
    2. Place of Birth:
      Llandaff, Wales, England
    1. Date of Death:
      November 23, 1990
    2. Place of Death:
      Oxford, England

Table of Contents

Introduction Roald Dahl

W.S. L. P. Hartley

Harry Rosemary Timperley

The Corner Shop Cynthia Asquith

In the Tube E. F. Benson

Christmas Meeting Rosemary Timperley

Elias and the Draug Jonas Lie

Playmates A. M. Burrage

Ringing the Changes Robert Aickman

The Telephone Mary Treadgold

The Ghost of a Hand J. Sheridan Le Fanu

The Sweeper A. M. Burrage (Ex-Private X)

Afterward Edith Wharton

On the Brighton Road Richard Middleton

The Upper Berth F. Marion Crawford

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Disappointed and BORED!

    Considering how much I enjoyed his other books, I was disappointed with this one. It was boring and didn't keep me interested at all. I didn't find it scary. This one definitely didn't live up to it's reputation.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2006

    Classic Ghost Stories

    Whenever I feel the need to read a good ghost story, I come back to this fine collection.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2005

    Highly literate and wintery tales!

    Although not generally a fan of ghost stories, this collection of highly literate and disquieting short stories had my undivided attention for three nights. If a book can be consistently elegant, occasionally moving and always creepy all at the same time- this is happily it. For those who love the depth of the classics, Roald Dahl's Book of Ghost Stories will ring home in their own collective and wintery chime. P.S. Leave the light on.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2010

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    Posted February 5, 2010

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    Posted March 27, 2009

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    Posted April 3, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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