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

4.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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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.
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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: 5 x 0.6 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #94,884 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
The sharing of scary stories on Christmas Eve is a European tradition that does not seem to have made it to shores of the New World. Luckily, we have an account of one such evening in The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James. To this modern day reader, the effect is one of looking through a telescope and discovering I can see the past. It makes me nostalgic for slower days, when people had time and inclination to sit and tell stories, rather than chase their next digital high. Perhaps the scariest aspect of The Turn of the Screw is the sense I got of my own modern isolation. The internet and smartphones connect us twenty-four/seven, but the connections are attenuated by the electronic mediators and the physical distance. Even when we are close, someone puts a screen between us to snap photo evidence to feed the sickly web that these days passes for friendship.

The Turn of the Screw opens with a group of people sharing stories. They take a common thrill from the latest tale, which involved a child who saw a ghost; such an event is commonplace in modern horror, but I am given to think that this was something shocking in James's time. The story tellers provide the narrative frame for the main action, and engage in some witty dialog, including the famous question, "If [one] child gives the effect another turn of the screw [of emotions], what do you say to two children?" So begins the main action, which is read from a written account some twenty years kept in secret. The introductory frame is not returned to, and the absence of the return of these witty characters increases the shock of horror at the end of the framed tale, as well as exacerbates my modern isolation.
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Format: Paperback
Henry James’s 1898 novella “The Turn of the Screw” has remained one of my favorite books since I first read this work in high school some decades back. As an adolescent, I had struggled through James’s intricate and often stilted prose; nonetheless, I found the story itself absolutely captivating! Over the years, I have reread “The Turn of the Screw” many times and still find the story fresh and intriguing. I also have watched many different dramatizations of it on TV and film to gain greater insight into the author’s intention and style. In critical literary circles, the debate rages over whether this tale is a supernatural or a psychological one: in other words, are the “apparitions” at Bly House truly ghostly manifestations or the result of a delusional woman’s own fantasy? (Freudian scholars in particular have had a “field day” with this novella!) From the start, I had made up my mind that it was indeed a tale of the supernatural and, after just reading “The Turn of the Screw” once again, still adhere to this view.

Certainly, I believe, Henry James provides enough clues in this story for just such an interpretation. Most critically, the new governess is able to provide a detailed description of the deceased Peter Quint and Miss Jessel, even though she has neither seen nor heard of them prior to the latter’s “visitations.” Additionally, the “queer” behavior (as in the nineteenth-century usage meaning “odd” or “unusual”) of the children Miles and Flora indicate that something indeed is very amiss at Bly. The fact that the governess alone appears to witness these apparitions does not contradict this reading; as is common in supernatural tales, ghosts can manifest themselves to whomever they please.
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Format: Paperback
Turn of the Screw was my intro into the works of Henry James. The intro for the story is excellent and gives the reader insight into how the story has been interpreted from many points of view. Many are divided as to decide if the governess is the heroine or the villain, or whether the ghosts she sees are part of her imagination or real. Being a novice of literature, would this book prompt me to read other works of Henry James? Given James penchant for keeping the reader interested through suspense,his excellent writing style, and brevity, I think so.
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