Saturday, 28 January 2012

Medieval ghostly encounters

The documentary on 'vampire skeletons' in the previous post refers to William of Malmesbury's tale of the witch from Berkeley and other medieval stories of ghosts and revenants. The best starting point for reading some of these stories is probably Andrew Joynes' Medieval Ghost Stories, originally published in 2001 and reprinted as a paperback a couple of times: 'a collection of ghostly encounters from medieval romances, monastic chronicles, sagas and heroic poetry.'

One slightly frustrating thing about this book, though, is that it opens with the interesting quote:

'... The ghost is not simply a dead or missing person, but a social figure, and investigating it can lead to that dense site where history and subjectivity make social life...'

because when you look up the book that it is taken from, Avery F. Gordon's Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination (1977), to learn more, the book really has little to say about the kind of ghosts and revenants one would expect, as it is really about 'haunting' in a more metaphorical sense, cf. Amazon's description: Gordon 'uses the metaphor of haunting to reflect on how contemporary society hides from its past.'

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