"Every word of it is true": the cultural significance of the Victorian ghost story

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Coffey, Nicole
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The implication of belief, that association between the veridical ghost tale and the fictional ghost tale—an association resulting from the onslaught of reason and science, and consequently spiritual doubt—remains largely responsible for the fictional ghost tale’s critical demise. A rise in the spiritualist movement produces a specific literature that coincides with the rise in interest in its fictional counterpart. Both the veridical ghost tale and the fictional ghost tale reach their heights in popularity at precisely the same time; not coincidental, but well planned by talented writers who viewed the preoccupation with ghosts as a platform from which a variety of contemporary issues could be candidly dealt. The Victorian literary ghost figure simultaneously, and ingeniously, fills a spiritual void, satisfies a consumer need for entertainment, and provides an opportunity for cultural commentary. The voice of the Victorian ghost, and the subsequent understanding of its haunted are of distinct cultural significance.
Victorian Literature, Ghost Stories, Spiritualism, Cultural History