This book has been recommended to me by several people, and I’m pretty excited about it. I mean, it starts with this wonderful quote:
The various sections of the anthology make for the perfect story selection to dip in and out of. The Introduction kicks off with St Augustine’s assertion that the dead cannot involve themselves in the affairs of the living, and yet the fascination of the living with the dead, it seems to me, means that they are directly tangled with the affairs of those attempting to understand them, or imagine the plane they inhabit after death, or whether there is such an ‘afterlife’ at all.
In many ways, the lives of ecclesiastics like St Augustine, not to mention other believers (Christian and non-Christian alike) were and are massively impacted by the dead, as an affirmation of life, new life, rebirth and resurrection in literal and figurative senses; none of which are possible to affirm without death, or the dead.
I always was fascinated by death and the past as a child: as a historian, my entire career is based on the lives of those now long-dead. The dead do directly involve themselves in my affairs in that sense, as our job is to reach backwards through that veil and resurrect the essence, if not the substance, of their lives.
It makes sense that my idea of joy is reading tales of ghosts and monks, ghosts and the court, the restless dead, and ghosts in medieval literature (the four sections of this anthology).
I think a few of us share this sense of morbidity, but perhaps for me it’s the idea that death (and any type of Momento Mori) gives life its urgency, agency and vibrancy. I feel this more strongly now, following several close family deaths, but it’s more that my perceptions of life have altered as a result rather than my perceptions of death. That is wrapped up more in my own spiritual journey, as well.
Anyway, I’m hoping this anthology won’t disappoint on several levels. I really like the way the stories are set out, and how each source is meticulously cited, and context provided….
Excited! Found my new train book, I think.