Vernon Lee writes in the Preface to Hauntings, “My ghosts are what you call spurious ghosts… of whom I can affirm only one thing, that they haunted certain brains, and have haunted, among others, my own.” First published in 1890, Lee’s most famous volume of supernatural tales occupies a special place in the literature of the fantastic for its treatment of the femme fatale and the allure of the past, along with the themes of thwarted artistic creativity and psychological obsession. This collection, which includes the four stories originally published in Hauntings and three others, enables readers to consider Lee’s work anew for its subtle redefinitions of gender and sexuality during the Victorian fin-de-siècle.
The appendices, which include extensive excerpts from writings by Lee’s predecessors and peers, including Algernon Charles Swinburne, Walter Pater, and Lee’s brother Eugene Lee-Hamilton, allow the reader to see how Lee takes on the themes and preoccupations of the late-Victorian period but adapts them to her own purposes.
“At last we have a modern edition of Vernon Lee’s most important ghost stories! Maxwell and Pulham have made it possible to study and teach this key fin-de-siècle writer, whose work so deserves fresh attention. The impeccable annotations will add greatly to our understanding of Lee’s many artistic and literary references. A fine set of additional readings document the rich exchange of ideas and materials in her literary circle. Readers new to Lee will be fascinated by her masterful evocations of the past, while old friends will delight in the full critical apparatus. Brava!” — Martha Vicinus, University of Michigan
“Aficionados of the fin-de-siècle and modernism have always been fascinated by the art historian, aesthetician, and fiction writer Vernon Lee, and her audience has increased dramatically in the last decade. This timely edition of Lee’s supernatural stories reveals the nooks and crannies of Lee’s brain as she studies those of European art, architecture, and taste. These witty stories, a veritable Italy of the mind, are more psychological than supernatural. They illustrate Lee’s belief that only the absolutely modern writer can raise real spectres of the antique, only the truly sceptical can depict belief with such passion.” — Regenia Gagnier, University of Exeter
“Ghosts don’t exist: they are experienced. Starting from this observation, later echoed by Freud, the liminal late-nineteenth- early-twentieth-century figure Vernon Lee became the first master of the modern supernatural tale. Lee’s masterpiece, Hauntings, returns to life with additional stories in a first-rate edition from Broadview Press, with valuable contextual materials provided by Catherine Maxwell and Patricia Pulham. Let the work of seduction begin.” — Richard Dellamora, Trent University