Like an unfamiliar side dish at Christmas dinner, the ghost stories of Charles Dickens have been largely overlooked, with the notable exception of A Christmas Carol. Consequently, faced with the infinite variety and incomparable quality of Dickens’ better known writings, from The Pickwick Papers to The Mystery of Edwin Drood, few people have explored these unfamiliar pieces in any great depth. This is, in my view, not only unfortunate but unfair, given that in his short supernatural fiction Dickens, liberated from the more formal and sustained demands of the novel format, experimented with a diverse range of fictional techniques. In his ghost stories, Dickens created frighteningly believable, spine-tingling stories of prophetic dreams and visions, as well as more fantastical adventures with goblins and apparitions. More importantly, these short works display the imagination of a master storyteller given free rein.
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