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The Haunting of Hill HouseRead more about Leithauser's list.
by Shirley Jackson
For reasons perhaps only the dead could explain, the sophisticated ghost story reached its zenith in the Victorian era. Later supernatural fiction tended to be both grislier and less frightening. So there was a special pleasure, for fans of the old-fashioned tale, when Shirley Jackson resurrected the form in 1959 with "The Haunting of Hill House." Her haunted house is an all but living thing, intent on confounding the scientific investigators who come to probe it. Ghost stories often convey a feeling of eerie diminishment, in which the characters grow smaller and smaller as something large and inexplicable and implacable discloses itself. This is wonderfully the case in "The Haunting of Hill House," where the human interlopers dwindle as the "empty" house expands.