Wondering how to entertain guests at your Halloween party this year? Why not recite a poem, tell a story, or present a parlor drama? A Halloween Reader is sure to add excitement to the celebration.
This sourcebook of Halloween lore spans British, Irish, and American literature from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries, from Robert Burns and Edgar Allan Poe to James Joyce and H. P. Lovecraft. Each of the poems, stories, and plays in this comprehensive anthology provides a link to Halloween celebrations of the past. “A Halloween Party,” by Caroline Ticknor, is a humorous short story about a nineteenth-century New Yorker’s first Halloween party. The macabre soliloquy from Sydney Dobell’s Balder paints a dark, haunting picture of the hallowed eve. Robert Burns’ “Halloween” gives a detailed description of the night of October 31 in eighteenth-century southwestern Scotland. The “Hallowoddities” section of the book includes witch-trial testimony, journal entries, and other spooky pieces related to Halloween.
A Halloween Reader provides an overview of the holiday’s roots and of how it has changed since it began in the British Isles more than one thousand years ago. In older literature, the dead are viewed as a supernatural evil, but one that can teach, predict, and warn, because they have seen the future that is hidden to us. In twentieth-century and current literature, however, the dead are portrayed as more humanly evil, returning as zombies to exact revenge or to otherwise terrorize the living. As Ms. Bannatyne says in her introduction, “The boundary between the vibrant world we live in and the underground world of worms is thin and brittle; it’s only a matter of time. What makes the older Halloween literature so enthralling is that it lets us travel back and forth to the land of the dead without consequence.”
About the Editor
One of the nation’s foremost authorities on Halloween, Lesley Pratt Bannatyne has shared her vast knowledge of the holiday in television specials for Nickelodeon and the History Channel. She currently is co-director of Invisible Cities Group and co-artistic director of the Studebaker Theater. As a journalist, she writes often for the Boston Globe and the Christian Science Monitor. Ms. Bannatyne resides in Somerville, Massachusetts, and has been named one of “Boston’s 100 Interesting Women” by Boston Woman magazine. Ms. Bannatyne’s other books, A Halloween How-To: Costumes, Parties, Decorations, and Destinations; Halloween: An American Holiday, an American History; and Witches’ Night Before Halloween are also published by Pelican.
Poems, Stories, and Plays from Halloweens Past
Edited by Lesley Pratt Bannatyne
FICTION / Anthologies (multiple authors)
272 pp. 6 x 9
10 b/w illus. Notes Biblio.
ISBN: 9781589801769 pb