The Ghost Feeler by Edith Wharton – Thoughts
Edith Wharton is best known for The House of Mirth, The Age of Innocence, and Ethan Frome, not for ghost stories. However, when I had an opportunity to read a collection of ghost stories by this famous author I jumped at it.
The Ghost-Feeler Stories of Terror and the Supernatural is an anthology of ghost/supernatural stories written by Edith Wharton. The collection includes both chilling and even comedic stories. Her supernatural tales include ghosts, the dead walking, simple murder, psychological tales, and more. In each story I was struck with Wharton’s ability to weave vivid detail and imagery to create an unforgettable scene, such as in this description of a person dying:
At last even these dim sensations spent themselves in the thickening obscurity which enveloped her; a dusk now filled with pale geometric roses, circling softly, interminably before her, now darkened to a uniform blue-blackness, the hue of a summer night without stars. And into this darkness she felt herself sinking, sinking, with the gentle sense of security of one upheld from beneath. Like a tepid tide it rose around her, gliding ever higher and higher, folding in its velvety embrace her relaxed and tired body, now submerging her breast and shoulders, now creeping gradually, with soft inexorableness, over her throat to her chin, to her ears, to her mouth … Ah, now it was too high; the impulse to struggle was renewed; … her mouth was full; … she was choking…. Help!
‘It is all over,’ said the nurse, drawing down the eyelids with official composure.
While reading this collection, I have also been reading The Turn of The Screw by Henry James. One story in particular, The Lady Maid’s Bell, reminded me a lot of Henry James’ writing style. Which according to the introduction of this book is not surprising. Her style is also reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe.
Overall, this book is a great collection of wonderfully put and vividly written stories. They are not scary in the traditional sense, but are indeed chilling and anyone who has a chance to pick up this collection should. It is like taking a walk through someones life and a journey through the dark recesses of Wharton’s mind.