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The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

The Turn of the Screw (1898)

by Henry James

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,024165899 (3.46)722
  1. 71
    The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (SandSing7)
  2. 40
    The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (Nickelini)
    Nickelini: Both have an unreliable narrator, which results in an ambiguous story.
  3. 30
    The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters (alalba)
  4. 20
    Carmilla: a Vampyre Tale by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (HollyMS)
  5. 10
    Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (hazzabamboo)
  6. 00
    The Magus by John Fowles (WSB7)
    WSB7: Appearances also arise, and many more turns of the screw.
  7. 00
    In a Glass Darkly by Sheridan Le Fanu (HollyMS)
  8. 00
    The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons (sturlington)
  9. 11
    Old People and The Things That Pass by Louis Couperus (pingdjip)
    pingdjip: A Dutch classic. Like The Turn of the Screw it's about restraining, silencing, suppressing a truth that nevertheless manifests itself in subtle ways. But unlike The Turn of the Screw it's actually a very good read.
1890s (3)
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English (146)  French (3)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (2)  Italian (2)  Swedish (2)  Vietnamese (1)  Danish (1)  Catalan (1)  All (161)
Showing 1-5 of 146 (next | show all)
A ghost story with a horrific overtone.

Victorian obscurity in expression, so not to say anything that could be objectionable. Took me a while to figure out what was worrying the governess.
220 ( )
  Bettesbooks | Jul 20, 2017 |
I had a college professor who issued a threat to our class via an anecdote about a prof from his own undergrad days. If a paper ran past the prescribed length, his professor would put a red line through anything remaining and write "ends abruptly" in the margin. I can only assume that's what happened to Henry James when he wrote this novel. I was listening to this on audiobook, and, even though the lady with the British accent said the recording had concluded, I just sat there thinking that there had to be a hidden track or something and if I sat in silence long enough, it would reveal itself.

I've not looked in a while, but I'm pretty sure it says on my English degree that I'm supposed to give at least four stars to everything British, and especially everything written in the 19th century, so it's possible that rating this book poorly will result in my being stripped of my bachelor's degree. Meh. I wasn't using it much anyway except for a little blogging, a few book reviews, and some obscure references with which I pepper conversations to discourage others from engaging me in small talk.

But really, what the heck did I just read? I get that the narrator is unreliable, I get why the references to (sexual?) misconduct are mostly communicated through significant facial expressions, and I get that I'm probably supposed to be confused. Sometimes these things make me enjoy a book and sometimes they don't. My experience with The Turn of the Screw is closer to the latter.

Now, one thing I like is how the narrator always wants to face things directly in a household of people who are tiptoeing around issues and an employer who expressly directs her not to talk to him about anything. It demonstrates how crazy-making it is to want to have straightforward answers when everyone around you is either silent or speaks obliquely. It's difficult to know where one stands when the best one can hope for in the way of explanation is an arched eyebrow or perhaps, if one is lucky, a wink-wink, nudge-nudge. Would it kill them to just come out with it? (spoiler alert...(view spoiler)) ( )
  ImperfectCJ | Jun 20, 2017 |
Only wish I'd read it prior to the lectures on it as having it laid out in advance took out some of the fun. Also suffers the drawback of being on of those books you wanted to "get to" and are happy for the "excuse" to read in class (or perhaps not 'you,' but 'I.' Still, you understand). ( )
  likecymbeline | Apr 1, 2017 |
"The Turn of the Screw" is an oppressive, suffocating tale where something is most terribly wrong, but the reader is never quite sure of the source of the evil tainting events. There is plenty of evidence of the supernatural; but these points are often counterbalanced by proofs that we are dealing with madness. Is this a ghost story or an account of an insane governess? James' overweening ambiguity, teasing diversionary tactics and feints never quite allow the reader to fix upon the truth.

I will interrupt my brief comments with a quote from Shakespeare's tragedy. And after reading "The Turn of the Screw" more than once, I still do not know if I should direct these lines to the ghosts or to the governess entombed in a dangerous insanity:

"Angels and ministers of grace defend us!
Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damn'd,
Bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell,
Be thy intents wicked or charitable."

Although I delight in pulling the puzzles apart that Henry James has woven into this story, it is not a narrative that I enjoy. For me, it is a stifling and tyrannical read. I do so wish the author would answer Hamlet's lines quoted above as the plot unfolds. But then, perhaps this does not happen by design: you cannot reason with insanity any more than you can reason with a ghost. ( )
  Triptweeze | Jan 30, 2017 |
Probably the most terrifying thing that I have ever read. ( )
  afclark | Jan 19, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 146 (next | show all)
Det rör sig om en av världslitteraturens otäckaste berättelser. Otäck inte bara för att det som händer är otäckt utan för att man inte riktigt vet vad som händer – och har hänt.

» Add other authors (90 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Henry Jamesprimary authorall editionscalculated
Benjamin, VanessaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Buckley, RamónTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cialente, FaustaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fyhr, MattiasPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hazenberg, AnneliesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Klingberg, OlaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lydis, MarietteIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stewart, DianaAdaptersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Van Doren, CarlIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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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 say that it was the only case he had met in which such a visitation had fallen on a child.
'The Turn of the Screw' holds a unique place in the canon of Henry James's fiction. (Introduction)
This perfectly independent and irresponsible little fiction rejoices, beyond any rival on a like ground, in a conscious provision of prompt retort to the sharpest question that may be addressed to it. (Preface)
She was a magnificent monument to the blessing of a want of imagination...
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Wikipedia in English


Book description
A very young woman's first job: governess for two weirdly beautiful, strangely distant, oddly silent children, Miles and Flora, at a forlorn estate ...

Half-seen figures who glare from dark towers and dusty windows - silent, foul phantoms who, day by day, night by night, come closer, ever closer. With growing horror, the helpless governess realizes the fiendish creatures want the children. Seeking to corrupt their bodies, possess their minds, own their souls.

But worse - much worse - the governess discovers that Miles and Flora have no terror of the lurking evil.
For they want the talking dead as badly as the dead want them.
Haiku summary
Such lovely little
children – but hark!, I think they
commune with spirits!

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0486266842, Paperback)

The story starts conventionally enough with friends sharing ghost stories 'round the fire on Christmas Eve. One of the guests tells about a 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:42 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

The narrator is a young governess, sent off to a country house to take charge of two orphaned children. She finds a pleasant house and a comfortable housekeeper, while the children are beautiful and charming. But she soon begins to feel the presence of intense evil.… (more)

» see all 23 descriptions

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Average: (3.46)
0.5 8
1 44
1.5 15
2 134
2.5 47
3 353
3.5 83
4 374
4.5 40
5 206

Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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Coffeetown Press

An edition of this book was published by Coffeetown Press.

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Urban Romantics

2 editions of this book were published by Urban Romantics.

Editions: 1909175811, 190917582X

Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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