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The Turn of the Screw and The Aspern Papers (Penguin Classics) Paperback – September 30, 2003


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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed. edition (September 30, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141439904
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141439907
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #164,832 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Henry James (1843-1916), born in New York City, was the son of noted religious philosopher Henry James, Sr., and brother of eminent psychologist and philosopher William James. He spent his early life in America and studied in Geneva, London and Paris during his adolescence to gain the worldly experience so prized by his father. He lived in Newport, went briefly to Harvard Law School, and in 1864 began to contribute both criticism and tales to magazines.

In 1869, and then in 1872-74, he paid visits to Europe and began his first novel, Roderick Hudson. Late in 1875 he settled in Paris, where he met Turgenev, Flaubert, and Zola, and wrote The American (1877). In December 1876 he moved to London, where two years later he achieved international fame with Daisy Miller. Other famous works include Washington Square (1880), The Portrait of a Lady (1881), The Princess Casamassima (1886), The Aspern Papers (1888), The Turn of the Screw (1898), and three large novels of the new century, The Wings of the Dove (1902), The Ambassadors (1903) and The Golden Bowl (1904). In 1905 he revisited the United States and wrote The American Scene (1907).

During his career he also wrote many works of criticism and travel. Although old and ailing, he threw himself into war work in 1914, and in 1915, a few months before his death, he became a British subject. In 1916 King George V conferred the Order of Merit on him. He died in London in February 1916.


Anthony Curtis is the editor of Lyle Official Antiques Review and has compiled more than 150 price guides, which have sold more than 4 million copies worldwide.

More About the Author

Henry James (1843-1916), the son of the religious philosopher Henry James Sr. and brother of the psychologist and philosopher William James, published many important novels including Daisy Miller, The Wings of the Dove, The Golden Bowl, and The Ambassadors.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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In these two stories he creates very intriguing and complex situations.
Doug Anderson
This omnibus collects two of Henry James's best and most well-known shorter works, The Aspern Papers and The Turn of the Screw.
Bill R. Moore
It is amazing how he uses his mastery of narrative technique to unsettle the reader.
Jim McKenna

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 21, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is an early examination of a deterioration of the human psyche. It's a dark psychological thriller told by a woman who finds herself scattered by fleeting emotions and unseen torments. From the start, the protagonist's mind seems to flow in several different directions, showing the portrait of a very insecure woman. I think that the purpose of the lengthy language is to serve as her very personal outlook on the situation, on herself. Henry has put himself fully in her position to achieve the purpose of forcing the reader to do so as well.
I tend to dislike films or books that depict mental illness as an organized or curable disorder. Something that can be easily fixed by medical advances or hope alone. The truth of the matter is much more dark. Insanity is not something to romanticize about, although there is certainly speculation of mental illness furthering artistic insight. (an example would be Virginia Wolff, or Vincent van Gogh) But Henry James does not view the woman's hallucinations with hope for her recovery.
The author has always shown particular interest in insanity, not from the vantage point of an onlooker or professional...but from the direct and unaltered view of the person suffering the hallucinations.
There actually are ghosts in this book, but the kind that are much more sinister and real in that they only exist to this one woman. She's alone in her hallucinations, completely unable to share the nightmare that has taken over her mind, left to bare it by herself. I think that's truly more frightening than the thin plot of any other 'ghost' story.
I recommend this book for several reasons; it has an intriguing plot, is an exploration of psychological aspects, and ends with a suspenseful finale.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jim McKenna on June 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
These are two of James's most haunting stories. It is amazing how he uses his mastery of narrative technique to unsettle the reader. It is never clear in the "Turn of the Screw" whether the ghosts actually exist or whether the narrator herself is deluded. Similarly, in "The Aspern Papers" the narrator seems to be eminently reasonable and civilized, but his actions are anything but. This story, in its quiet, "boring" fashion, throws a very disturbing light on literary biographers. In fact, this is one of James's trademarks, the ability to probe the dark side of refined, genteel people.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Doug Anderson VINE VOICE on October 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
Well these are my two favorite works by Henry James. In both James displays his very neatly honed talents for creating fine fictional universes and architecturally perfect stories where all seems to be just right but of course it isn't. James is writing in the still young American tradition of letters but he has cleared away much of the romanticism that was so evident in Hawthorne and Melville. The romanticism still exists but it is not in the writers brain, it exists in the characters alone. James was the first to really write at a remove from his characters. He tells each tale with no authorial comment to sway your opinion of his characters one way or another, he lets the reader make his own observations and draw his own conclusions based on the characters behaviour and thoughts. That authorial distance allows him to simply relate the story, not explain it, and James stories are each as intricate as the psychologies that occupy them. In these two stories he creates very intriguing and complex situations. Both are mysteries and both perhaps have no easy solution or resolution because James lets the complex minds and psychologies of his characters subjectively grapple with a web that they have themselves woven and any resolution would mean an unraveling of their entire character. These are story long webs which can be baffling(Aspern Papers) or terrifying(Turn of the Screw), the psychological webs these characters weave can lead them to frightening extremes(Turn of the Screw) or can serve as a necessary support for the fragile psyche that created them(Aspern Papers). The real thrill of reading James is in how controlled a manner all is told. There are no obvious clues just psychological gradations and patterns which begin adding up to an overall impression.Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J C E Hitchcock on February 27, 2011
Format: Paperback
Most of the other reviews on this site seem to relate to a more modern Penguin edition, which combines "The Turn of the Screw" with another novella, "The Aspern Papers", but I have the older edition in which it is combined with two short stories, "The Pupil" and "The Third Person". Those stories appear to have been selected because of their thematic links with "The Turn of the Screw". "The Third Person" is another ghost story, although in this case a comic one in which two spinster cousins who inherit an old house discover that it is haunted by the spirit of an ancestor who was hanged for smuggling. (The house may be based upon Henry James's own home, Lamb House in Rye).

"The Pupil" is not a tale of the supernatural, but was included because it has certain similarities with "The Turn of the Screw", including a similar ending. It is the story of Pemberton, a young Englishman who is appointed tutor to the son of an American family. The boy's parents are Americans of a type familiar in James's fiction; they are fascinated by European culture, and even more by European high society, and spend all their time travelling around Europe in a vain attempt to break into that society. Although the family are financially embarrassed, and rarely have enough money to pay Pemberton his wages, he remains with them, largely because of his fondness for his teenage pupil. (James, himself a repressed homosexual, may be hinting at a sexual attraction between them, although the moral code of the 1890s meant that he could never do more than hint about such matters).

"The Turn of the Screw" is the longest and by far the best-known of the three stories. It is ostensibly at least, a ghost story.
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