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The Turn of the Screw and Other Stories…

The Turn of the Screw and Other Stories (Oxford World's Classics) (1898)

by Henry James

Other authors: T. J. Lustig (Editor)

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frankly, i read only The Turn of the Screw. sifting through the stilted Victorian prose was less than fun and i openly skoffed at many of the idiomatic phrasings and vocabulary, finding them to be too massively wordy. however, there were long stretches that i simply did not understand as well. they seemed to contradict themselves. just when i thought the governess was making a positive statement another person would deny it or, worse, agree with it and then the governess would promptly deny it. or so it seemed to me. i found it to be difficult.

once past all that, the story itself was very straight forward and rather simple. i have heard the word "intense" used to describe this story many times but the only intensity seemed to emanate from the protagonist and her seemingly abstract machinations and attempted orchestrations to get the children to admit what they were seeing. or what she believed they were seeing.

the disturbing parts were the governess's encounters with the "horrors" that stared at her with a grim ferocity. the story does hint that these visions may be all in her mind and does seem to be some of the reason that she does her utmost to maneuver the children into confession. however, nothing else about the story as it's told was engaging to me. i have been wanting to see a movie or theatre adaptation of this tale for some time now but can never find it.

the afterimages i'm left with are of the "horrors," the deceit of the children, Victorian era household drama, and the hint at delusion. all else is a blur. i would love for this to be re-written into modern prose by someone who understands it fully because i feel like i've missed out on something great. ( )
  keebrook | Mar 10, 2015 |
The Turn of the Screw was the last story of the four, but I’ll review it up front as the titled work. It’s a novella length story and by far the best in this collection in terms of atmosphere, quality of prose, and level of discomfiture provoked in the reader (in this reader, at least). The children worried me rather a lot; Flora and Miles, so very innocent and cherished for that innocence by their new and devoted governess, who fears for that quality when she realises the former valet to their uncle and their former governess are haunting them. The undercurrent of hysteria, the reticent narration, interspersed with fraught moments of confrontation; make this one of the defining gothic mysteries. The progress in story was a little densely hidden at times, but by no means inaccessible; James’ wordiness is an asset to this tale, if anything.

Sir Edmund Orme is interesting if not absolutely creepy, and with characters that one doesn’t mind joining for a ghost hunt. The subtle, almost deferential, figure of Sir Edmund, lingering in the background of the young lady’s life, to the deep consternation of her mother, is one of the more convincing shades in literature, though sadder than horrifying.

While I followed the story with little problem, Owen Wingrave, the second story in the collection, is the one that James’ prose does the least credit. Maybe I was overtired, but I had to reread many paragraphs several times before feeling I had caught the gist and I’m not sure that the end of the story warranted that much effort.

The Friends of Friends was different enough from the rest of the content to intrigue and surprise me; two ‘soulmates’ fall in love secretly, without the benefit of ever having met or communicated, joined by a shared supernatural trait. There’s nothing sinister about this story, but there is an air of near-danger that is quite compelling. ( )
  eleanor_eader | Jan 23, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Henry Jamesprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lustig, T. J.Editorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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The Turn of the Screw: The story had held us, round the fire, sufficiently breathless, but except the obvious remark that it was gruesome, as on Christmas eve in an old house a strange tale should essentially be, I remember no comment uttered till somebody happened to note it as the only case he had met in which such a visitation had fallen on a child.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0192834045, Paperback)

Whether viewed as a subtle, self-conscious exploration of the haunted house of Victorian culture, filled with echoes of sexual and social unease, or simply as "the most hopelessly evil story we have ever read," The Turn of the Screw is probably the most famous of ghostly tales and certainly the most eerily equivocal. This new edition includes three rarely reprinted ghost stories from the 1890s, "Sir Edmund Orme," "Owen Wingrave," and "The Friends of the Friends," as well as relevant extracts from James's notebooks and journals.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:31 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

A young governess is sent to a country house to care for two orphaned children. To begin with Flora and Miles seem to be model pupils but gradually the governess starts to suspect that something is wrong with them. As she sets out to uncover the secrets of the house, she becomes more convinced that something evil is watching her.… (more)

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