Women and Ghosts by Alison Lurie

By Alison Lurie

The writer of The conflict among the Tates and the Pulitzer prize-winning international Affairs now brings her impossible to resist wit to the ghost story.

In 9 spooky stories, Alison Lurie writes of girls haunted through ghosts either literal and metaphorical: a lady approximately to marry Mr. correct is visited through the spirit of his first spouse; a lifeless fiancé haunts a overseas carrier officer each time she has an intimate second with one other guy; the ghost of a lady in a Halloween dress disconcerts the precise housewife. A secretary on a vitamin starts to work out overweight humans all over the place she seems to be; a self-conscious poet is shadowed by means of her intrusive doppelganger; and a capricious, malevolent spirit turns out to have inhabited an acquisitive matron's prized piece of furniture.

Delightfully unusual and fantastically advised, those 9 stories express Alison Lurie at her luminous most sensible.

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The boy must eventually separate himself from his dependency on – and desire for – the mother and must face up to his father. In doing so, the boy becomes more ‘‘man-like,’’ thereby maturing and perpetuating the heterosexual family configuration. But the child must also repress this guilty ‘‘fantasy’’ of desiring the mother and harming the father, and so Bettelheim and others argue that the symbolic content of fairy tales helps children work through such conflicts on a subconscious level. Although Freudians draw heavily on the Oedipal myth, the relationship between fairy tales, myths, and the unconscious is highly complex, A BRIEF CRITICAL OVERVIEW 43 E1C03_1 01/20/2010 44 particularly because each of these terms is defined differently by different scholars.

In contrast to those like Irwin or Tolkien who attempt to circumscribe the boundaries of fantasy, a more open-ended approach can be found, for example, in The Encyclopedia of Fantasy. In this indispensable tome, John Clute and John Grant acknowledge the debt that modern fantasy owes to antiquity, but also explore the many tendrils of fantasy across genres, movements, and modern media – including film. Like Tolkien they note a number of the so-called ‘‘taproot texts’’ that contribute to the ‘‘cauldron of story,’’ such as Apuleius, Bunyan, Cervantes, Chaucer, Dante, Malory, Rabelais, and Shakespeare, to name just a few (ix).

The value of Hume’s position lies in the A BRIEF CRITICAL OVERVIEW 41 E1C03_1 01/20/2010 42 acknowledgement that what we choose to call fantasy is a question of degree and not of kind. Just as fantasy, science fiction, or horror fall along a continuum, so do realist and fantasy elements. Fantasy has the potential to challenge the status quo since it can explore what would otherwise be repressed, and so it is not surprising that psychological analyses of the genre are common. In Fantasy: The Literature of Subversion, Rosemary Jackson focuses on the many fantastic and Gothic texts that inform Todorov’s work, seeing the fantastic as being particularly open to a psychological reading because of its connection to fantasy as a mental process.

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