The Grateful Dead: The History of a Folk Story

Author: Gordon Hall Gerould

Publication date: 1908

Published for the Folk Lore Society by David Nutt, London

Reprint 2000, University of Illinois Press

This book explores the body of world literature devoted to the ghosts of the departed, lost souls who showed gratitude to those who took care of their bodies and assisted in getting rid of demons. Gerould gives a brief outline of the theme of the stories "reduced to its lowest terms" in the introduction:

A man finds a corpse lying unburied, and out of pure philanthropy procures interment for it at great personal inconvenience. Later he is met by the ghost of the dead man, who in many cases promises him help on condition of receiving, in return, half of whatever he gets. The hero obtains a wife (or some other reward), and, when called upon, is ready to fulfil his bargain as to sharing his possessions.
The contents are:
  • A Review
  • Bibliography
  • Tales With The Simple Theme And Miscellaneous Combinations
  • The Grateful Dead And The Poison Maiden
  • The Grateful Dead And The Ransomed Woman
  • The Grateful Dead And The Water Of Life Or Kindred Themes
  • The Relations Of The Grateful Dead To The Spendthrift Knight, The Two Friends, And The Thankful Beasts
  • Conclusion
The text of the book can be viewed online in various archive.

There have been a number of recent recent reprints of the book.