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Literature

Talking boards have become an iconic part of culture, demonstrated by their appearances in many books and movies. Their roles in such vary from being a benign object to an evil entity. A more peculiar role of talking boards in literature stems from authors using the board to channel complete written works from the deceased.

In the early 1900s, St. Louis housewife Pearl Curran used her Ouija board communications with the ubiquitous spirit Patience Worth to publish a number of poems and prose. Pearl claimed that all of the writings came to her through séances, which she allowed the public to attend. In 1917 writer Emily G. Hutchings, a friend of Pearl Curran’s, believed she had communicated with and written a book dictated by Mark Twain from her Ouija board. Twain’s living descendants went to court to halt publication of the book that was later determined to be so poorly written that it could not have been written by Twain dead or alive.

Sylvia Plath’s poem Ouija was influenced by the experiments she and Ted Hughes made with a board. Her Dialogue over a Ouija Board, written in 1957, incorporates the text of one of the sessions.

Author John G. Fuller used a Ouija board in his research for his 1976 book The Ghost of Flight 401. As he was skeptical of its effectiveness, he worked with a medium and claimed they both contacted Don Repo, the flight engineer on the flight which crashed into the Everglades en route to Miami. According to Fuller, the information divined described facts that neither he nor the medium previously knew.

More recently, Pulitzer Prize winning poet James Merrill used a Ouija board and recorded what he claimed were messages from a number of deceased persons. He combined these messages with his own poetry in The Changing Light at Sandover (1982).

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