Ghost story of H. G. Wells

Sian Cain “Unseen HG Wells ghost story published for first time”

Strand*1の編集者Andrew Gulli氏*2は米国イリノイ大学にあるH. G. ウェルズ関係のアーカイヴからウェルズ*3の未発表「幽霊小説」を発見した。題は「幽霊天井(The Haunted Ceiling)」。この作品はStrandに掲載される。

Wells scholars have dated the story to the mid-1890s, when the author was about 30. This would mean that he wrote The Haunted Ceiling around the same time he produced his more famous ghost tale, The Red Room, which depicts a sceptic’s terrifying night attempting to discredit claims a castle room is haunted.

While most famous for science fiction books like The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds, Wells frequently wrote gothic tales about doubters confronted with supernatural events, often leading to ambiguous and haunting endings. Stories like The Story of the Inexperienced Ghost, in which a man relates an occult encounter, then becomes more agitated until he collapses and dies. The narrator observes: “Whether he did indeed pass there by that poor ghost’s incantation, or whether he was stricken suddenly by apoplexy in the midst of an idle tale – as the coroner’s jury would have us believe – is no matter for my judging.”

The Haunted Ceiling is so obscure that two Wells scholars, Patrick Parrinder and Michael Sherborne, told Associated Press that they had never seen it before. Comparing the style and content to other Wells stories, they dated it to around 1895: a time when ghost stories were popular and Wells was both prolific and strapped for cash.

“So the puzzle is, why was this one either never sold, or if sold never published?” asked Parrinder, while Sherborne called it “not one of Wells’s very best stories, but it is a skilfully assembled anecdote which would, I think, be very effective as a self-contained magazine item.”

宇宙戦争 (創元SF文庫)

宇宙戦争 (創元SF文庫)