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Ghost Stories from the Raj Paperback – 1 February 2002

4.1 out of 5 stars 55 ratings

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Product description

About the Author

Ruskin Bond's first novel, The Room on the Roof, written when he was seventeen, won the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize in 1957. Since then he has written several novels (including Vagrants in the Valley, A Flight of Pigeons and Delhi Is Not Far), essays, poems and children's books, many of which have been published by Penguin India.

He has also written over 500 short stories and articles that have appeared in a number of magazines and anthologies.

He received the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1993 and the Padma Shri in 1999.

From the Publisher

Bhut, pret, pisach, dana,

Shiv ka kehna, sab nikal jana!

(Ghosts and spirits in house or tree,

In Shiv’s great name we bid thee flee!) Amongst the writers represented here, two were keen observers of Indian customs and folklore: Lt. Col. Sleeman, an administrator who, in the mid-nineteenth century helped eliminate the menace of the Thugs, a sect who waylaid and murdered innocent travellers; and C. A. Kincaid, one of the more enlightened of British officials, who wrote sympathetic books and essays on Shivaji, the Rani of Jhansi, and other heroic figures. Kipling, poet of the Empire, wrote the occasional ghost story; as did Alice Perrin, wife of an Indian official; her stories were quite popular in the 1920s. In Caulfield’s Crime, she reveals the more arrogant, cruel aspect of the colonial official. In The Summoning of Arnold she demonstrates that the spirits of the dead recognise no frontiers. Ghosts require no passports. They are truly universal beings! Kincaid brings a touch of humour to his stories, but this does not lessen their dramatic impact. The stories of this period tell us something about colonial attitudes—ranging from the paternalistic to the cynically indifferent—but we must remember that they were written purely to entertain, to enliven a dull railway journey, a sleepless night, a rainy day in the hills, a long sea voyage, or a period of recuperation from a tiring illness. Ghost stories are meant to frighten you, but at the back of your mind you know it’s all a nightmare from which you are going to wake. In other words, it’s a “safe” fear and you can enjoy the process of being frightened.

Doctor Johnson once said of the supernatural: “All argument is against it, but all belief is for it.” Those of us who enjoy reading ghost stories are the people who half believe or want to believe. Those who are already convinced of the existence of ghosts usually look for ‘factual’ accounts are usually very dull and consist of “sightings” of unusual phenomena, rather like the sightings of UFOs, unidentified flying objects, whose reconnoitrings are singularly without interest or purpose.

The human imagination is a wonderful thing, and I shall conclude this brief introduction with a ‘factual’ experience of my own, which was certainly hair-raising.

Some years ago, a neighbour of mine, an old English lady who lived alone, died of heart failure and was laid out on her bed for the night, as it was too late for the funeral. A friend and I decided that we would take turns at her beside, and at about midnight I sat down on an easy chair in the bedroom to undertake my part of the vigil. There had been the usual power failure, but we had lit candles and I could see the features of the corpse quite clearly. For some reason I couldn’t take my eyes off her face. Her eyes were closed, but after a while I was sure I could make out a slight smile on her lips. This smile gradually grew wider until it became a rather menacing grin. I was frightened out of my wits. Was I about to see her rising from the dead?

As the grin grew even wider, I got up from my chair, ready to flee the room. Just then there was a loud report, like a pop-gun going off, and her false teeth shot out of her mouth and rolled off the bed.

We had forgotten to remove her false teeth. Rigor mortis having set in, the rigidity of her jaws had forced her mouth into that terrifying grin, ejecting the teeth with considerable force. Not a ghost story, but a ghostly one all the same.

Happy Hauntings!

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Product details

  • Publisher : Rupa (1 February 2002)
  • Language : English
  • Paperback : 188 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 8171679927
  • ISBN-13 : 978-8171679928
  • Item Weight : 181 g
  • Dimensions : 12.9 x 1.17 x 19.81 cm
  • Country of Origin : India
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.1 out of 5 stars 55 ratings

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4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5
55 global ratings
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Top reviews from India

Reviewed in India on 27 April 2019
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Reviewed in India on 10 March 2019
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Reviewed in India on 6 June 2018
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4.0 out of 5 stars Another literarary benchmark, delivered slightly without care:P
By CliqueIdiot:D on 6 June 2018
The book is awesome, Mr.Bond had selected the stories so awesomely. But Jeff, the packaging, that's where it was wrong. The book's bottom right corner was visibly turned casting a fold mark on it. Probably during transportation, the book covers' natural elasticity had been demoted to a level in which the cover opens up on the crease of the book. Just the packaging, everything's all right except that.
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Reviewed in India on 14 September 2020
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Reviewed in India on 16 August 2018
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3.0 out of 5 stars ... have read his other novels and this one wasn't great.
Reviewed in the United States on 9 September 2015
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