Why do people love ghost stories, even if they don’t believe (or say they don’t believe) in ghosts? Is it simply the adrenaline rush that comes from being mesmerized and terrified by a great storyteller, or do these tales yield deeper meanings—tell us things about our own inner shadows? Stephen Johnson brings together some of the most memorable encounters with ghosts in world literature, from Europe, Russia, the United States, and thirteenth-century China. Recurring themes and imagery are noted, interpretations suggested—but only suggested: ambiguityandresistance to rational interpretation are key elements in the best ghost stories. As the writer Robert Aickman observed, often the decisive moment comes when someone, somehow, makes a “wrong turning”: literally perhaps, but at the same time psychologically, even morally—and some mysterious nemesis take over. Old favorites by M. R. James, Sheridan Le Fanu, Bram Stoker, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman are interlaced with extracts from longer works by Emily Brontë, Henry James, Alexander Pushkin, and Susan Hill, along with slightly left-field apparitions from Thomas Mann, Tove Jansson, and Flann O’Brien. With such expert guides, who knows what we will be led to encounter in the haunted chambers of our minds?