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The Turn of the Screw (Dover Thrift Editions) Paperback

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Product Details

  • Series: Dover Thrift Editions
  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: The Modern Library; Reprint edition (January 1, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486266842
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486266848
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.3 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (259 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,560 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

James's narrative style is bit difficult for me to read.
Jennifer B. Barton
Just remember that his book is a difficult read and will definitely make you think and wonder about a few things that were never really clarified in the end.
Kendra Juarez
James' writing was truly the best trait of this story I love how the story kept making the reader decide whether or not it was a mystery or a scary story.
Zach Telles

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

88 of 98 people found the following review helpful By A. T. A. Oliveira on June 20, 2004
Format: Paperback
Today's readers may not find Henry James's masterpiece "The Turn of the Screw" as creepy as it was when first published. To begin with, there is no gore in the book --the moments of horror are so subtle, but they get under one skin.
"The Turn of the Screw" was first published as a serialized novel in Collier's Weekly. After that it was published in the novel format, both in England and USA. When James wrote this novella was a period of increase of the popularity of spiritual issues. Many people were searching for new ways of explaining death, and they were also loosing their Christian faith. Many were trying to communicate with the Other Side.
But the dead in the novella, as James once stated, are not ghosts, as we know them. However, this belief persisted through time, and even today, most readers assume that Peter Quint and Miss Jessel are spectrums or a so-called entity.
On the form, "The Turn of the Screw" has some innovations. Prior to James, most novels were written through one point of view --this narrator told the story and the characters and actions are under his/her way of viewing, judgments, and conclusions. On the other hand, most of James's novels count with a difference: the narrator/character is not aware of everything. In this particular novella, we see the story through the eyes of governess and we know as little as she. Not only she, but also we, has a limited knowledge of the events.
Much can be concluded from the story --it is impossible to have a definitive conclusion. Some say the governess was a good character fighting against evil to protect the two children. But some scholars have researched and concluded that, as a matter of fact, the governess had a troubled mind.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By "rtoddh" on June 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
A story told over a hundred years ago, and still sparking serious debate over its intention? Henry James must be proud. Now I like clear writing even more than the next fellow, but I find I really like the ambiguity and startling turns that both the dialogue and the plot take in Henry James's stories. The answers to the simplest questions put to a character always elicit an unexpected response. This makes it tough on a reader, who lazily expects direct, routine answers. It's unsettling and challenging to understand what these characters say, and mean, by their responses.
So, I think that the charm of Henry James is that the reader is asked to use his own imagination in interplay with the writing. It's a puzzle, and the more imagination one brings, the more fascinating the characters. You'll note how little physical description James uses for a character like Mrs. Grose, allowing the reader's imagination to fill in the blanks.
Each generation sees something different in the story. Originally viewed as a ghost story, it was later reviewed to be a Freudian tale, told by an unreliable narrator. Sexual overtones affected the narrative of the governess, making the reader question what she saw, and what she says others saw. This ambigous reality reached not only to perception of the ghosts, but of the actions and motives of the children.
However, I was struck as a 21st Century reader by the awful plight of Miles, the ten-year-old boy asked not to return to school for reasons the school never explains. It is only in the last chapter, when Miles and the governess are alone together, where the governess uses language that seems to promise carnal pleasure to Miles, that the most startling aspect of Miles character is revealed.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Rose Madder on May 25, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
An excellent mystery/horror novel! When I was in 12th grade, my class was assigned this book to read and I absolutely loved it. The characters are done with depth but also have a mystery. You cannot be sure what is exactly happening until the very end. Even still, the author does not end the book with an answer but a question mark. Is the governess really mad or are those kids demon possessed monsters. And what about the mysterious uncle that never makes an appearence in our book? This book will keep you guessing, that is for sure.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By karl b. on December 27, 1999
Format: Paperback
Henry James's tale is the last of the gothic Victorian novellas, with its richly developed sense of propriety-- a semblance of manners and understatement concealing primitive subliminal impulse. Its dense, symbolic language penetrates deeply into the psyche. There is evil here. But its emanation is ambiguous and amorphous. The characters exist in a pervasive atmosphere of dread. The exact source of that dread has intrigued readers since it was written before the turn the (20th) century. Central to James's fable is the character of the Governess. Was she deluded, predatory or ennobled? Her motives hold the key to the solution-- if there is a solution.
James reveled in brooding, subversive sexual undercurrents. The suspense is ethereal since nothing is sure in James's painstakingly constructed psychological panorama. What is real here? Whose innocence is being corrupted? It's all a mystery, wrapped in a riddle, cloaked in a-- well, ghost story! But riddles are meant to be solved. James has provided us all the necessary clues. The text fills barely 88 pages, but the critical interpretation, covering a century, shows the enduring capacity of 'the Screw' to engage the imagination. The analyses mirrors our changing attitudes toward children, psychology and the nature of evil. The Norton Critical Edition includes an excellent survey of various commentaries over the decades, which provide fascinating insight into contemporary mores as they were pressed into decoding James's great puzzle.
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