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The Turn of the Screw - Literary Touchstone Classic Perfect Paperback – October 1, 2006

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Product Details

  • Perfect Paperback: 142 pages
  • Publisher: Prestwick House, Inc. (October 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580491618
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580491617
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (122 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,845,447 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

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. --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.


''Both narrators are skilled and capable and render James' complex prose as clearly as it would be on the page, if not more so. Benjamin conveys the classic question of the governess's reliability by making her voice pleasant and reasonable yet increasingly self-justifying and high-strung . . . Through her narration the eerie, claustrophobic effect of James's tale is heightened -- just what a good audiobook should do.'' --AudioFile

''In rich and mellow tones, Vance dramatically introduces this classic ghost tale . . . Benjamin's reading of the story, in a sweet British accent, is a calming contrast . . . but when appropriate, Benjamin's tones alter the mood dramatically . . . Benjamin's accent and emotional undercurrents are just right. This excellent production highlights James' gorgeous prose and skill at creating and sustaining a mood of growing unease and horror.'' --Booklist

''This enigmatic, chilling, classic ghost story is especially well told in semivoiced narrations.'' --

''More than a horrific ghost story, The Turn of the Screw is an enigmatic and disturbing psychological novel that probes the source of terror in neuroses and moral degradation . . . The Turn of the Screw will continue to fascinate and to intrigue because James' 'cold artistic calculation' has so filled it with suggestiveness and intentional ambiguity that it may be read at different levels and with new revelations at each successive reading.'' --Masterpieces of World Literature --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

Henry James has the reputation for writing superb novellas.
If one believes the governess, so evil that the children's innocence is merely a sham.
Darkest America
I can't get by the writing style: too many fragmented run-on sentences.
LT. John

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By "labibliophile" on May 20, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Henry James is one of my favorite authors and this novella is one of my favorite books. It's a ghost story, it's horror, it's suspense, but what set it head and shoulders above most ghost/horror/suspense stories is the fact that it's strictly psychological.
A young governess secures a position at what appears to be a lovely English manor house and she soon discovers that nothing is what is seems and things are definitely not as they should be.
James has a highly stylized way of writing and he loved using long, convoluted sentences, even when saying something quite simple. Some readers might find this a litle jarring, but for me it only adds to the atmosphere of the book.
Over the years there has been much speculation about the meaning of this story, especially the enigmatic ending. I know what I think, but I won't give anything away here. Read The Turn of the Screw yourself and be prepared for a scary evening of surprises and perhaps even a sleepless night.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Darkest America on January 2, 1999
Format: Paperback
One can accept either of the two established opinions -- that the children did see the ghosts and the governess was telling the truth; or that the children saw nothing, but were frightened by the hallucinating governess -- or one can realize that James intended the reader to be nagged by doubt concerning this -- and a few other -- questions. The question of doubt goes beyond the governess's account. Whether or not one believes her, Quint and Miss Jessel are real, evil figures. But how evil can they have been if they left the children so seemingly innocent? If one believes the governess, so evil that the children's innocence is merely a sham. But there is too much doubt planted and not enough known about the nature of the evil for this to be at all convincing. If one disbelieves the governess, then are the children uncorrupted? In that case, what would explain Mrs. Grose's abhorrence? The abundance of unanswerable questions hints at a void at the center of the story. So do, of course, the multiple frames and narrative ellipses. But is that void simply a void, or is it itself a ghost? How many readers have been haunted by this story, unable to shake it, disturbed and unsatisfied? How many, in other words, have felt like the governess felt? Worse, how many have felt the empty evil at the heart of this ghostly void, the feeling that James may be playing a terrible trick, may have something even worse up his sleeve than whatever dark suggestions the reader's own imagination may have conjured up? The story is not unfathomable, however. Like so many of James's other stories, especially those written during the previous few years, it is about a writer -- in this case the governess -- who fails. The children she takes care of are no less imaginary than the ghosts she describes. It is she who muddies the waters, not James. There are evil ghosts out there, but they live in pens and pencils, not old houses.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By H. Schneider on April 23, 2012
Format: Paperback
Dreadful dreadfulness.
I always wondered what the title of Henry James' famous ghost story means. Now I know and it is no spoiler to tell you, as the explanation is given on page 1. A ghost story is made more ghostly when a child is involved. (This takes us right into a great horror tradition, from Goethe's Erlkoenig to the superb ghost film 'The Others' with Nicole Kidman.)

The frame is a familiar one: people in a gothic mansion, 19th century England, telling each other ghost stories after dinner.
One man offers two turns of the screw. He makes things complicated by not telling the story in his own words, rather he must read it from a manuscript, that the late writer gave to him some time ago...
Magnificent set up, isn't it.

The writer of the manuscript is a young woman who joins a bachelor's household as a governess. The man has to take care of 2 children, his nephew and niece, who lost their parents in India.
The kids are kept at the country seat, where the governess will be mistress over a household of servants. There had been a predecessor, who had unfortunately died. The uncle does not want to be troubled with any problems or questions, ever, and he never visits.

The woman is delighted with the pretty place and with the pretty little girl. The little boy will arrive 2 days later from a boarding school ... From which he has been mysteriously expelled. Anxieties begin to build.

They are masterfully strengthened by the sight of an inexplicable stranger who appears briefly at the mansion, a few times. She nearly freaks out...from her descriptions, the householder identifies the man as the master's valet. The man had died last year... The women fear that the valet is looking for the children...
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By D. Thomas on May 22, 2008
Format: Kindle Edition
Don't buy The Turn of The Screw published by LeClue22. It's not formatted for Kindle. It's full of hard returns so every other line wraps only half way across screen. The version published by B&R Samizdat Express is readable, formatted appropriately, and is also only $0.99.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By N. Hirsch on February 16, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
If you are a fan of the Haunted House story then Henry James' "The Turn of the Screw" is a mandatory addition to any reading list along with "The Haunting of Hill House", "Hell House" and "The Shining" (although "The Turn of the Screw" is considered the finest ghost story ever written - if that floats you boat).

The story, about a young governess who is hired to raise two children in isolation at an English estate, contains some gothic elements with ghostly apparitions but is overall very understated in its horrific elements by modern standards. Written in the 1800's there are no real overtly frightening moments and the "haunted" theme is used as a vehicle to convey other real world horrors in a very ambiguous way.

The books strength, and weakness for the modern horror reader, is its structure and ambiguity. James writes a story that creates uncertainty regarding the governess's sanity (the story is the governess's interpretation of events as conveyed through her written recap) and presents many situations that remain unexplained at the story's conclusion. It is the constant questioning of events and truthfulness in the descriptions that makes the story interesting and utterly frustrating at the same time. The reader is never sure if the ghosts are real or just "fantasies" created in the mind of a manipulative governess. Furthermore, the reader is never really sure what exactly happened in the past at the house and to the children. There are hints of sexual impropriety which is where the real horror comes from, but again the reader needs to draw their own conclusions and nothing is ever revealed as absolute.
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