The Penguin Book of the Undead: Fifteen Hundred Years of Supernatural Encounters (Paperback)
Since ancient times, accounts of supernatural activity have mystified us. Ghost stories as we know them did not develop until the late nineteenth century, but the restless dead haunted the premodern imagination in many forms, as recorded in historical narratives, theological texts, and personal letters. The Penguin Book of the Undead teems with roving hordes of dead warriors, corpses trailed by packs of barking dogs, moaning phantoms haunting deserted ruins, evil spirits emerging from burning carcasses in the form of crows, and zombies with pestilential breath. Spanning from the Hebrew scriptures to the Roman Empire, the Scandinavian sagas to medieval Europe, the Protestant Reformation to the Renaissance, this beguiling array of accounts charts our relationship with spirits and apparitions, wraiths and demons over fifteen hundred years, showing the evolution in our thinking about the ability of dead souls to return to the realm of the living—and to warn us about what awaits us in the afterlife.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
"A marvelous treasury of ghostdom. It’s exactly what I wanted to read. Scott Bruce has done a great job of assembling these accounts of the uncanny, and I know I shall keep it close by my bed for a long time." —Philip Pullman, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Golden Compass
“This exceptionally well-curated compilation shows that the wide variety of accounts of the undead have been rampant in literature long before the Gothic era. . . . Bruce has chosen selections from numerous cultures, including ancient Greece, Anglo-Norman England, and medieval Scandinavia. . . . He presents the contents with an enthusiasm that makes these . . . works accessible to the casual reader.” —Publishers Weekly
“It succeeds well as an education in how stories of wandering spirits have reflected throughout history common human anxieties about death, the disposal of mortal remains, and the fate of the soul [and] how these fears have changed through the ages and the ways in which otherworldly accounts have been used to address them.” —Library Journal