"True Ghost Stories" -- Fiction or Non-Fiction?

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ColleenMc
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Post by ColleenMc » May 9th, 2018, 8:33 am

I was casting around at the Internet Archive looking for possibilities for stories to record for the Ghost/Horror story collections, and I have come across several books that call themselves "True Ghost Stories". I'm not sure whether to consider these fiction or non-fiction as often they are collected reports that the author/compiler has received from others. Other times they read like fiction stories complete with dialogue.

There is also the added complication that there is a custom in writing horror and ghost stories to frame them as a submission to a journal or a story heard from another, so that they sound like potential "non-fiction" when they are actually completely made up by the author.

I found a cool book ("Indian Ghost Stories" by S. Mukerji) that is falling into that possible category.

In general, do people categorize books purporting to be "true" ghost stories as fiction or nonfiction? Or does it matter?

TriciaG
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Post by TriciaG » May 9th, 2018, 10:51 am

I went to the Library of Congress and did a search on "True ghost stories". Their classification didn't help me much, but they show the Dewey number.

Dewey Decimal System categorizes them as 133:
130 Parapsychology & occultisms
133 Specific topics in parapsychology & occultism

So they'd be nonfiction, in the sense that they aren't intended as fiction. "Nonfiction" doesn't mean "not true" but comes down to the intent.

Timothy Ferguson
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Post by Timothy Ferguson » June 18th, 2018, 10:10 pm

TriciaG wrote:
May 9th, 2018, 10:51 am
I went to the Library of Congress and did a search on "True ghost stories". Their classification didn't help me much, but they show the Dewey number.

Dewey Decimal System categorizes them as 133:
130 Parapsychology & occultisms
133 Specific topics in parapsychology & occultism

So they'd be nonfiction, in the sense that they aren't intended as fiction. "Nonfiction" doesn't mean "not true" but comes down to the intent.
Tricia, the Dewey system doesn't have a Fiction classification as such: it just has a Literature classification (over in the 800s).

More broadly, I agree. Works earnestly claimed to be true are in 133.1 but works facetiously claimed to be true, like M.R. James are off in Literature, which divides up by country of origin and time period in a most unhelpful way. M.R. James is 823.912 for example.
My occasional blog is Games from Folktales

Timothy Ferguson
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Post by Timothy Ferguson » June 18th, 2018, 10:16 pm

Oh, and to answer the OP's questions about collections to a narrator, yes, they are still non-fiction. They either land in ghost stories or folklore (which is 398 with a number after the decimal to narrow down place or subject) because folklore doesn't need, as Tricia noted, to be demonstrably true.
My occasional blog is Games from Folktales

Cori
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Post by Cori » June 19th, 2018, 1:05 pm

Non-Fiction is a section within Fiction in our catalog. So it's fine to put them wherever people are comfortable with them (which is probably where they match existing works for that section in tone & content.)
There's honestly no such thing as a stupid question -- but I'm afraid I can't rule out giving a stupid answer : : To Posterity and Beyond!

Sue Anderson
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Post by Sue Anderson » June 21st, 2018, 5:01 am

Timothy Ferguson wrote:
June 18th, 2018, 10:10 pm
TriciaG wrote:
May 9th, 2018, 10:51 am
I went to the Library of Congress and did a search on "True ghost stories". Their classification didn't help me much, but they show the Dewey number.

Dewey Decimal System categorizes them as 133:
130 Parapsychology & occultisms
133 Specific topics in parapsychology & occultism

So they'd be nonfiction, in the sense that they aren't intended as fiction. "Nonfiction" doesn't mean "not true" but comes down to the intent.
Tricia, the Dewey system doesn't have a Fiction classification as such: it just has a Literature classification (over in the 800s).

More broadly, I agree. Works earnestly claimed to be true are in 133.1 but works facetiously claimed to be true, like M.R. James are off in Literature, which divides up by country of origin and time period in a most unhelpful way. M.R. James is 823.912 for example.
Fascinating discussion. Ghost tales "earnestly claimed to be true," the 133.1's, are welcome over at the Nonfiction Collection: viewtopic.php?f=19&t=70576

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