The Sanguine Woods

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The Humorous Ghost

Dorothy Scarborough, PhD, 1921

Lecturer in English at Columbia University, and author of the essay: The Supernatural in Modern English Fiction,* and editor of the anthropology: Famous Modern Ghost Stories.”

The essay below was printed in 1921 as the Introduction to the anthology G. P. Putnam’s Sons, New York and London, The Knickerbocker Press.


 

The humorous ghost is distinctly a modern character. In early literature wraiths took themselves very seriously, and insisted on a proper show of respectful fear on the part of those whom they honored by haunting. A mortal was expected to rise when a ghost entered the room, and in case he was slow about it, his spine gave notice of what etiquette demanded. In the event of outdoor apparition, if a man failed to bare his head in awe, the roots of his hair reminded him of his remissness. Woman has always had the advantage…

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