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Men, Women, and Ghosts   By: (1844-1911)

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Men, Women, and Ghosts by Elizabeth Stuart Phelps is a mesmerizing collection of short stories that delves into the intricacies of human relationships, exploring the boundaries that separate men and women from one another, and the eerie presence of the supernatural that often lingers in the background.

The book opens with a tale titled "The Angel over the Right Shoulder," which immediately captivates readers by introducing a mysterious character who morally guides individuals in their quest for self-discovery. Through this story, Phelps explores the idea that each person has an inner voice influencing their choices and behaviors, subtly hinting at the broader themes that run throughout the rest of the book.

As the collection progresses, Phelps skillfully weaves stories that highlight the social constraints placed upon women in the 19th century. "The Madonna of the Future" is a standout piece that critiques the limited roles allotted to women at that time, challenging societal expectations and advocating for their emancipation.

One of the most compelling aspects of Phelps' writing is her ability to infuse each story with a ghostly presence, blurring the lines between reality and the supernatural. In "The Mere Child," the author explores the concept of reincarnation and the cyclical nature of life. The story leaves readers pondering the possibility of past lives and the potential impact they may have on current circumstances.

Throughout the collection, Phelps demonstrates her keen observation of human nature and emotions. In "The Story of Avis," she depicts a deeply moving portrayal of a woman's struggle to balance her artistic ambitions with the role society expects her to fulfill as a wife and mother. This story emphasizes the way societal norms can stifle individuality and creativity, leaving a lasting impact on readers.

While the themes of gender dynamics and the supernatural are prevalent, each story of Men, Women, and Ghosts stands on its own, offering a unique perspective and narrative. Phelps' prose is both eloquent and poignant, evoking a sense of empathy towards her characters and allowing readers to relate to their struggles and emotions.

In conclusion, Men, Women, and Ghosts is a remarkable collection of stories that transcends the limitations of its time, exploring timeless themes in a nuanced and thought-provoking manner. Elizabeth Stuart Phelps' ability to seamlessly blend elements of the supernatural with astute observations on gender dynamics provides readers with a captivating reading experience that is sure to resonate long after the book is finished.

First Page:

Men, Women, and Ghosts


Elizabeth Stuart Phelps


Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1869, by FIELDS, OSGOOD, & CO., in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.

University Press: Welch, Bigelow, &., Cambridge.


Of this collection of stories, "Calico," "The Day of my Death," and "Night Watches" (the last under the title of "Voices of the Night") have appeared in Harper's Monthly ; "One of the Elect," (under the title of "Magdalene,") in Hours at Home ; and "Little Tommy Tucker," in the Watchman and Reflector .

E. S. P.

Andover, April, 1869.


No News The Tenth of January Night Watches The Day of My Death "Little Tommy Tucker" One of the Elect What Was the Matter? In the Gray Goth Calico Kentucky's Ghost

No News.

None at all. Understand that, please, to begin with. That you will at once, and distinctly, recall Dr. Sharpe and his wife, I make no doubt. Indeed, it is because the history is a familiar one, some of the unfamiliar incidents of which have come into my possession, that I undertake to tell it.

My relation to the Doctor, his wife, and their friend, has been in many respects peculiar. Without entering into explanations which I am not at liberty to make, let me say, that those portions of their story which concern our present purpose, whether or not they fell under my personal observation, are accurately, and to the best of my judgment impartially, related... Continue reading book >>

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