Urban Legends

Ghost Cities

We’ve all heard them, the stories that are alleged to have happened to a ‘friend of a friend’ of someone whom we know. Folklorists use the term ‘urban legend’ to describe such tales in order to distinguish them from traditional fairy tales from pre-industrial times, although the two story forms have much in common. Like any other story they have a cast of characters and a beginning, middle and end. They often serve as cautionary tales but are presented in a compelling format due to the utilisation of such elements as mystery, horror, fear and (often dark) humour. Nevertheless they are at heart still morality tales that depict someone acting in a disagreeable manner, only to wind up in trouble, hurt, or dead by way of comeuppance. Many urban legends depict horrific crimes or frightening supernatural occurrences e.g. the story of a woman killed by spiders nesting in her elaborate hairdo; the ‘kidney heist’ story…

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