A chilling ghost story, wrought with tantalising ambiguity, Henry James' "The Turn of the Screw" is edited with an introduction and notes by David Bromwich in "Penguin Classics". In what Henry James called a 'trap for the unwary', "The Turn of the Screw" tells of a nameless young governess sent to a country house to take charge of two orphans, ...
A chilling ghost story, wrought with tantalising ambiguity, Henry James' "The Turn of the Screw" is edited with an introduction and notes by David Bromwich in "Penguin Classics". In what Henry James called a 'trap for the unwary', "The Turn of the Screw" tells of a nameless young governess sent to a country house to take charge of two orphans, Miles and Flora. Unsettled by a dark foreboding of menace within the house, she soon comes to believe that something malevolent is stalking the children in her care. But is the threat to her young charges really a malign and ghostly presence or something else entirely? The "Turn of the Screw" is James' great masterpiece of haunting atmosphere and unbearable tension and has influenced subsequent ghost stories and films such as "The Innocents", starring "Deborah Kerr", and "The Others", starring "Nicole Kidman". This "Penguin Classics" edition contains a chronology, further reading, notes and an introduction by David Bromwich examining the dark ambiguity of James' work and the inseparability of narrative from point-of-view. Henry James (1843-1916) son of a prominent theologian, and brother to the philosopher William James, was one of the most celebrated novelists of the fin-de-siecle. In addition to many short stories, plays, books of criticism, biography and autobiography, and much travel writing, he wrote some twenty novels. His novella "Daisy Miller" (1878) established him as a literary figure on both sides of the Atlantic, and his other novels in "Penguin Classics" include "Washington Square" (1880), "The Portrait of a Lady" (1881), "The Awkward Age" (1899), "The Wings of the Dove" (1902), "The Ambassadors" (1903) and "The Golden Bowl" (1904). If you enjoyed "The Turn of the Screw", you might like Edgar Allen Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher", also available in "Penguin Classics". "A most wonderful, lurid, poisonous little tale". (Oscar Wilde).
Not your usual ghost story, this, written by Henry James, is a terrifying journey into the unknown. A new governess comes to care for two young children, Miles and Flora, and soon finds herself defending them against possible possession by the spirits of their former governess and the evil Quint, the former valet to the children's absentee father. As the seeming possessions escalate, the new governess fights against them with every ounce of her will. While the children insist that nothing is amiss, the governess continues to become even more steadfast in her determination to save the children from the demons trying to possess them, insisting to the children that they own up to the hauntings, to their cooperation with the spirits, and to the evil with which they are being afflicted.
What makes this story so compelling is the study of the psychology of the characters, particularly that of the governess. What makes the story a "whodunnit" is the interplay between the ever more vigilant governess, the children, and the spirits themselves. Are the ghosts really there? Or is the new governess, in her terror and belief, bringing her own brand of evil into the lives of two innocent children? Who, indeed, is the possessor?
For anyone who loves a good ghost story, full of atmosphere and gloom, or for those who love a good psychological character study, "Turn of The Screw" remains one of the gems of either genre.
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