The dead live again in the haunting compendium of ghostly visitations through the ages assembled by Scott Bruce. Just in time for Halloween, we invite you to hear two experts of medieval and Renaissance times discuss our fascination with zombies and other restless souls.
Since antiquity, accounts of supernatural activity have mystified us. Ghost stories as we know them did not develop until the late nineteenth century, but the restless dead haunted the premodern imagination in many forms, as recorded in historical narratives, theological texts, and personal letters. The Penguin Book of the Undead teems with roving hordes of dead warriors, corpses trailed by packs of barking dogs, moaning phantoms haunting deserted ruins, evil spirits emerging from burning carcasses in the form of crows, and zombies with pestilential breath. Ranging from the Hebrew scriptures to the Roman Empire, the Scandinavian sagas to medieval Europe, the Protestant Reformation to the Renaissance, this beguiling array of accounts charts our relationship with spirits and apparitions, wraiths and demons over fifteen hundred years, showing the evolution in our thinking about the ability of dead souls to return to the realm of the living—and to warn us about what awaits us in the afterlife.
Scott Bruce is an historian of religion and culture in the early and central Middle Ages and the author of ,Silence and Sign Language in Medieval Monasticism: The Cluniac Tradition (c. 900-1200) and of Cluny and the Muslims of La Garde-Freinet: Hagiography and the Problem of Islam in Medieval Europe. He is Professor of History at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Anthony Grafton is one of the foremost historians of early modern Europe and the author of numerous influential books, among them are Bring out Your Dead: The Past as Revelation; Cartographies of Time: A History of the Timeline; What Was History?: The Art of History in Early Modern Europe; Cardano’s Cosmos: The World and Works of a Renaissance Astrologer; and Worlds Made by Words: Scholarship and Community in the Modern West. Grafton is Professor of History at Princeton University.