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Tales of Men and Ghosts

Edith Wharton

Book Overview: 

In only two of the stories are women the central characters, though elsewhere they play important roles. Wharton enjoys subjecting her subjects -- all of them American gentlemen and gentlewomen, in the conventional senses of the word -- to various moral tests and sometimes ironic tests. Some of the stories deal with the intellectual fashions of the day -- "The Blond Beast" basing itself, to some degree, on Nietzsche, and "The Debt" on variants of Darwinism.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .w you the record of hundreds of cases like yours, and advise you what treatment to follow. It's one of the commonest forms of hallucination. Have a cigar, all the same."

"But, Allonby, I killed that man!"

The District Attorney's large hand, outstretched on his desk, had an almost imperceptible gesture, and a moment later, as if an answer to the call of an electric bell, a clerk looked in from the outer office.

"Sorry, my dear fellow—lot of people waiting. Drop in on Stell some morning," Allonby said, shaking hands.

McCarren had to own himself beaten: there was absolutely no flaw in the alibi. And since his duty to his journal obviously forbade his wasting time on insoluble mysteries, he ceased to frequent Granice, who dropped back into a deeper isolation. For a day or two after his visit to Allonby he continued to live in dread of Dr. Stell. Why might not Allonby have deceived . . . Read More

Community Reviews

I read this collection in bits and pieces over a couple of months, and found it a solid mix of classic Wharton. Most of the tales are of men, and not literal ghosts (although a couple are), but I love what she's implying by naming the collection as she does. As with any short story collection, so...more

A good collection of short stories, but I'd read the only ghost stories in it before in other collections, which was disappointing.

A couple of good tales, lots of really insightful writing...And endings that just cut off. "Wait, this isn't even an ending." The actual ghost stories were the best of the lot.

Plenty of men, plenty of twists, not many ghosts.

'The Bolted Door' established Wharton's fondness for a twist in the tale. She introduces us to a failed writer on the cusp of suicide who can't pull the trigger so decides to confess to a murder. I think part of her purpose here was to ridicule the...more

Edith Wharton is a master story teller. She write from male and female perspectives quite well, she dissects the mind of her characters so well when she wants to you fell like you are them and when she doesn't, it's because the story is served without it. Her short fiction is great, and I may hav...more

Read: October-November 2016
Overall rating: 3/5 stars

This was a real mix of good, bad and mediocre. The standout stories for me were The Bolted Door and Afterward while His Father's Son and Full Circle were also worth a read. I wouldnt recommend this collection unless you are already a fan of Edit...more

A set of character studies--and character studies cleverly disguised as ghost stories--that has some fascinating pieces. The two most overt ghost stories are probably my favorites, as they use the supernatural to explore the hearts of two different men. Sometimes witty, sometimes heartbreaking, a...more

I read "Afterwards" a few years ago and was incredibly impressed but that was the only Wharton short story I'd read before now. I'm a huge fan of her novels. Her short stories didn't disappoint. I would get to the end of each one and just say "wow, that's my favorite." And then of course I'd read...more

Read here Hattip to Karen: "thankee ma'am"

Description: Tales of Men and Ghosts (1910) consists of ten stories that had previously been printed in Scribner's Magazine and Century Magazine. They are listed here in chronological order of their original publication dates:

The Bolted Door
His Father's S...more

I'm ambivalent about this collection. On the one hand - acute observations about human nature, fine descriptive passages, interesting characters. On the other hand - endings so abrupt that the doorbell must have rung just as the author was putting together the final paragraphs. The closing senten...more

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