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A Natural History of Ghosts de Roger Clarke
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A Natural History of Ghosts (2012 original; edició 2013)

de Roger Clarke (Autor)

MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaMencions
2026117,477 (3.26)9
"Is there anybody out there?" No matter how rationally we order our lives, few of us are completely immune to the suggestion of the uncanny and the fear of the dark. What explains sightings of ghosts? Why do they fascinate us? What exactly do those who have been haunted see? What did they believe? And what proof is there? Taking us through the key hauntings that have obsessed the world, from the true events that inspired Henry James's classic The Turn of the Screw right up to the present day, Roger Clarke unfolds a story of class conflict, charlatans, and true believers. The cast list includes royalty and prime ministers, Samuel Johnson, John Wesley, Harry Houdini, and Adolf Hitler. The chapters cover everything from religious beliefs to modern developments in neuroscience, the medicine of ghosts, and the technology of ghosthunting. There are haunted WWI submarines, houses so blighted by phantoms they are demolished, a seventeenth century Ghost Hunter General, and the emergence of the Victorian flash mob, where hundreds would stand outside rumored sites all night waiting to catch sight of a dead face at a window."--Book jacket.… (més)
Membre:CJMurrow
Títol:A Natural History of Ghosts
Autors:Roger Clarke (Autor)
Informació:Particular Books (2013), 448 pages
Col·leccions:La teva biblioteca
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Informació de l'obra

A Natural History of Ghosts: 500 Years of Hunting for Proof de Roger Clarke (2012)

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» Mira també 9 mencions

Es mostren 1-5 de 6 (següent | mostra-les totes)
A enjoyable discussion of classical British ghost hunting and the role of mediums in spiritualist seances, as well as the ways in which "ghosts" have changed with the times (e.g., clothing choices), but it's mostly a tour through specific hauntings and mediums and their histories, which, while enjoyable, isn't really telling us much of anything about how the investigations were done (except for some obvious flaws), let alone a plan for making future investigations scientifically rigorous.

So fun book, worth a read if you like this sort of thing, but don't expect to get a serious analysis of scientific exploration of the supernatural. ( )
  cmc | Jan 6, 2021 |
Would like to find something similar for the world at large; a global history, essentially, of how we've approached the supernatural, what we think it is, what we're getting out of that belief, etc. ( )
  KatrinkaV | Sep 18, 2020 |
Aargh I'm so annoyed by this book. I've been wanting to read it for years because I'm an inconsistent atheist and I low-key believe in ghosts. I'm so disappointed! This book takes a scattershot approach to famous hauntings - Clarke will be like "... Poltergeist activity reminiscent of the Little Whittingdon Ghost Badger of 1733 or the 1982 Chipping and Sodbury Ghoulie Phenomenon" and you're like "ooh! that sounds good!" but then he'll just change the subject completely and you're just like "huh". In fact, he changes the subject so frequently that you have to keep a really close eye on what's happening or you'll get confused - it's like listening to my Grandad tell stories but I don't even get a chocolate biscuit out of it.

But! The thing that's really bothering me is that I can see at least one point where he Did Not Do The Research - he's talking about Japanese cinema, and he claims that they got the hair-in-the-face ghost girl thing from an M.R. James story. Um, no! White people did not invent everything! I lived in that part of the world for a while, and ghosts with hair-obscured faces are a well-established tradition. Grr!

As a child, I read loads of books with titles like "50 true spooky ghosts that will GIVE YOU THE WILLIES" and honestly they were more entertaining and possibly better researched than this. Ugh, avoid. ( )
  whitsunweddings | Aug 16, 2016 |
I read the Penguin paperback version of this book and have to say: it is not a very attractive publication. There are several pictures included, but there are all in black and white and of a rather dubious quality. For example: there is a picture of a room with a supposedly haunted bed, but you can barely make out the bed. These illustrations are far too small and too grainy, so one has to wonder why there were included at all. Already the cover itself is a cliché. A door opening onto some darkness lurking behind it. It seems to me, little love went into the formal presentation of this volume.

But now to the content:

While I enjoyed some parts of the book several chapters felt really plodding.

For example “The house that was haunted to death” is sheer torture to get through. The ordeal the people in this haunted mansion were suffering is not presented in a way that would make it interesting to the modern reader.

There is a lot of information included in this book with numerous footnotes at the end. You have to really pay attention and I am not sure whether it is worth it. It would be different, if Clarke was a particularly engaging and entertaining writer, which he unfortunately is not. While he does inject some dry humour into his tales now and then, mostly this is rather dull stuff. The author fails to conjure up a suitable atmosphere of dread, and so despite being told about all the ghostly goings on, you do not really feel that they are anything particularly extraordinary let alone scary. The prose feels rather functional. Bill Bryson he definitely ain’t.

If you are looking for some fun read about the paranormal, I would recommend “The dead roam the earth” by Alasdair Wickham. Clarke’s book, is far too scholarly and dry. ( )
  TheRavenking | May 23, 2016 |
Roger Clarke sets out to decide whether or not ghosts are a real phenomenon, but along the way he becomes intrigued with those who have tried to determine this in the past and so decides to write about them. He looks at instances from distant history up through the present, finding some fraud, some things which remain unexplained and lots of surprising bits of information. For instance, each generation seems to have their own fashion of ghosts. Some generations had ghosts who wore white, the Victorian ghosts wore black, while the Babylonians feared a "darkness." Different segments of society are more prone to see ghosts, the very poor and the very rich, whereas the middle class do not as a rule fuss about with them. Of course religion and science have both had their influences as well, and when the world is in a precarious state interest in ghosts swings up. Through all of it, the fact remains that people see unexplained things.

Being soundly of the middle class, I did not know that there were organizations like the Society for Psychical Research (and an American version as well), or a taxonomy of spirits. The case histories included here were very interesting to read and I found that the author presented both sides and opinions and left it to the reader to make conclusions. The end notes of each chapter were terrific. I kept a bookmark there so I could refer to them as I read. Also kept my smartphone handy to look things up throughout the book.

While not a fast read, this was not difficult either. It presented me with a whole section of humanity and their experiences which I've never thought much about before except in a fictional way. I don't suppose it has swayed me one way or another, but it was interesting and instructive. ( )
1 vota MrsLee | Dec 6, 2015 |
Es mostren 1-5 de 6 (següent | mostra-les totes)
It’s hard to tell what Clarke himself thinks of all these people and their ludicrous antics. At one point he observes in an apparently po-faced way that “there’s been very little in the way of academic research into the class structure of ghost belief”. And a damn good thing, too, some might say. But were a chair of Parapsychology and Ghost-hunting to be established by one of our more progressive seats of learning, I can think of no one better qualified to fill it.
afegit per hf22 | editaThe Telegraph (UK), Tom Fort (Dec 5, 2012)
 
Clarke's book provides an alternative history of such belief, from notorious cases – the Angel of Mons and Borley Rectory – to less well-known instances such as the mysterious and convoluted events in Hinton Ampner House, which possibly influenced Henry James's story The Turn of the Screw.
afegit per hf22 | editaThe Independent (UK), Nick Groom (Nov 3, 2012)
 

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O death, rock me asleep, Bring on my quiet rest; Let pass my weery guiltless ghost; Out of my careful breast. - said to have been written by Anne Boleyn, in the Tower of London before her execution
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For my mother, Angela H. Clarke, who saw a ghost
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There was a dead woman at the end of the passageway.
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"Is there anybody out there?" No matter how rationally we order our lives, few of us are completely immune to the suggestion of the uncanny and the fear of the dark. What explains sightings of ghosts? Why do they fascinate us? What exactly do those who have been haunted see? What did they believe? And what proof is there? Taking us through the key hauntings that have obsessed the world, from the true events that inspired Henry James's classic The Turn of the Screw right up to the present day, Roger Clarke unfolds a story of class conflict, charlatans, and true believers. The cast list includes royalty and prime ministers, Samuel Johnson, John Wesley, Harry Houdini, and Adolf Hitler. The chapters cover everything from religious beliefs to modern developments in neuroscience, the medicine of ghosts, and the technology of ghosthunting. There are haunted WWI submarines, houses so blighted by phantoms they are demolished, a seventeenth century Ghost Hunter General, and the emergence of the Victorian flash mob, where hundreds would stand outside rumored sites all night waiting to catch sight of a dead face at a window."--Book jacket.

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