The Signal-Man


Written by Charles Dickens four years before he died of a stroke in 1870, and a year after the train to London he was on derailed, “The Signal-Man” (1866) is a chilling short story about a railway signalman who works in a dim, damp tunnel. He recounts to the narrator his sightings of a wildly gesticulating but mute specter. Each time he sees the ghost some horrific event on the railway follows. The story captured my attention from the start and held on. It’s a quick read, perfect for a drizly autumn day, and reflects the time in which it was written, when steel production and rail transport were being ramped up and there was growing interest in the unconscious mind.

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