Books Literature & Fiction The Turn of the Screw (Penguin Popular Classics) by Henry James

The Turn of the Screw (Penguin Popular Classics) by Henry James Hot

 The Turn of the Screw (Penguin Popular Classics) by Henry James

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ISBN 0140620613
Author Henry James

The story starts conventionally enough with friends sharing ghoststories 'round the fire on Christmas Eve. One of the guests tells abouta governess at a country house plagued by supernatural visitors. But in the hands of Henry James, the master of nuance, this little tale of terror is an exquisite gem of sexual and psychological ambiguity. Only the young governess can see the ghosts; only she suspects that the previous governess and her lover are controlling the two orphaned children (a girl and a boy) for some evil purpose. The household staff don't know what she's talking about, the children are evasive when questioned, and the master of the house (the children's uncle) is absent. Why does the young girl claim not to see a perfectly visible woman standing on the far side of the lake? Are the children being deceptive, or is the governess being paranoid? By leaving the questions unanswered, The Turn of Screw generates spine-tingling anxiety in its mesmerized readers.

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Reviewed by Clara
January 22, 2009
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Very intelligently written. I have read this story 3 times (about every 6 years), and I get more out of it each time. That being said, this is also one of the most difficult books I have read, particularly considering how brief it is in length. The complexity of the relationships between the characters, the indefinite layers of meaning in the dialog that passes between them all add to the mystery and dark tone of this work. A lot is left to the readers desired interpretation of events, and this is why I enjoy re-reading this story. There are so many indirect, but well formed illusions that play back and forth, particularly between the Governess and Miles. I find myself constantly looking at the situation from their individual perspectives, trying to decipher all the possible truths behind their words. The "horrors" definitely come through as having a sexual nature - regardless if you view it as some do, as molestation of the children, or frustration on the part of the Governess. An intimate relationship between Quint and Miss. Jessel is fairly well painted out in the story. I always come away with the feeling that she left her post to birth a child. I find myself delving into the effect of Quint and Jessel's relations being openly exposed before the children, as well as how that may have involved the children in other respects. I do not recall if it ever plainly states if the children knew that Miss. Jessel had died or not. I wonder if they thought she was still alive.