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The Turn of the Screw and Other Short Fiction (Bantam Classics) Paperback – September 1, 1981

4.2 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

To read a story by Henry James is to enter a world--a rich, perfectly crafted domain of vivid language and splendid, complex characters. Devious children, sparring lovers, capricious American girls, obtuse bachelors, sibylline spinsters and charming Europeans populate these five fascinating Nouvelles --works which represent the author in both his early and late phases. From the apparitions of evil that haunt the governess in The Turn Of The Screw to the startling self-scrutiny of an egotistical man in The Beast In The Jungle, the mysterious turnings of human behavior are skillfully and coolly observed--proving Henry James to be a master of psychological insight as well as one of the finest stylists of modern English literature.

From the Inside Flap

To read a story by Henry James is to enter a world--a rich, perfectly crafted domain of vivid language and splendid, complex characters. Devious children, sparring lovers, capricious American girls, obtuse bachelors, sibylline spinsters and charming Europeans populate these five fascinating "Nouvelles --works which represent the author in both his early and late phases. From the apparitions of evil that haunt the governess in "The Turn Of The Screw to the startling self-scrutiny of an egotistical man in "The Beast In The Jungle, the mysterious tumings of human behavior are skillfully and coolly observed--proving Henry James to be a master of psychological insight as well as one of the finest stylists of modern English literature.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Classics; Reissue edition (September 1, 1981)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553210599
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553210590
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.9 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #134,703 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
On the surface this is a story about an either haunted or hysterical governess who juggles words with true virtuosity, stringing them into psychologically insightful sentences. But that is all just camouflage, as is the many-layered structure of this tale. When the chips are finally down, the truth emerges, even though it is never explicitly stated --- how could it possibly have been stated explicitly in 1898? --- this is a story about pedophilia and its effects on a ten year old boy. At the core of this tale lies the relationship between the boy Miles and his uncle's servant Quint at Bly, the uncle's country estate. The housekeeper Mrs. Crose informs the new governess that the too-good-to-be-true Miles had been "bad" in the past, he would disappear for hours in the company of Quint who was not only "much too free" but also engaged in "depravity." Sent off to a boarding school, Miles gets expelled for what he tells his classmates presumably about this depravity. When at the very end of the tale the governess confronts Miles about these matters, he appears to expire in the last four words of the tale's last sentence. Yet at the start of the unresolved flashback which this tale represents, Miles may yet be alive as a middle-aged family man named Douglas, who reads to his friends the whole tale as written down by the governess herself.
Is Douglas the grownup Miles? James doesn't tell, but this remains a fascinating possibility perfectly consistent with the rest of this tale. Further conflations of characters are equally well compatible with the "facts." The uncle who lived at Bly and then left his estate at the very time of Quint's accidental death doesn't want to ever again hear of his nephew or to return to Bly.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This contains:

The Turn of the Screw

Washington Square

Daisy Miller

The Beast in the Jungle

The Jolly Corner

and a good introduction by R. W. B. Lewis, who wrote a Pulitzer prizewinning biography of Edith Wharton.

I think those last three pieces are his best-known nouvelles, and the top two are his best-known short novels. Wow. They're a nice place to start with James, too.
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Format: Paperback
This is a good collection of Henry James' best. Each short story is a pager-turner rich with insights into American and British life at the end of the 1800's. He doesn't make his characters Romantic heroes but real, flawed, interesting and complex. James definately ranks among the best of the Realism and Naturalism authors like Twain, Dresler, Crane and Howells.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Turn of the Screw is one of the best ghost stories ever written. There's barely a sentence that can't be interpreted two or three different ways by the reader. There's hardly a better example of the Unreliable Narrator literary device than this short story. And it deals with very dark, very heady topics two - involving children, no less - which makes it that much more enticing, in it's own dark way.
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Format: Paperback
The first element to clear up is the date of publication. Henry James could not at that time when he wrote this strongly anti-gay, as we would say today, novella using ghosts to create tension ignore Oscar Wilde’s Ghost of Canterville in which Oscar Wilde in 1887 makes fun of Americans who believe in ghosts so much that they can shoot peas with peashooters at them, up to the final peace agreement the Americans negotiate with that ghost. Henry James takes quite a serious approach towards the two ghosts of his story, meaning it is not any device to frighten the readers, but a dramatic element in the story without which it does not work.

He could not either ignore the situation in England, where he situates the action, at the time since Oscar Wilde was sentenced to a two year prison term for his gay sexuality with young men if not teenagers. Note at the time the age was not at stake, only the orientation. The sentence was implemented from 1895 to 1897. Then Oscar Wilde moved to Paris where he died in 1900. Since Henry James situates his story in England he had to take into account the real paranoia about any gay orientation, though if Oscar Wilde had not “seduced” (and that seduction was long lasting for the “ victim”) the son of a Lord, himself to become a Lord, he might very well have gone through without even a trial or a fine. That conception of society divided into upper tiers that have to remain cut off from any intimate relation with all other middle or lower social tiers is absolutely dominant at the time in England. And we must keep in mind the subject was so pregnant that it will be the core of D.H.
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Format: Paperback
Henry James wrote in a clear, precise even-handed American style that has not grown stale despite the passage of over 100 years. The two stories that stand out here to me are the two that are usually singled out by reviewers, "Daisy Miller" and "The Turn Of The Screw", the former because of its sensual European atmospherics and the fact that even back in 1900 an American female could be considered overly outgoing or prurient by community standards, even if she was probably just an extroverted American; the latter because James effectively creates the controlled terror of a ghost story involving children at a British greathouse, perhaps a bit like Poe. But the other 3 stories all have something going for them: "The Jolly Corner", is also a ghost story,set in New York; "The Beast Of the Jungle" creates a sense of mysterious suspense within the context of a couple's love relationship, and "Washington Square" is the story of a love relationship forbidden by the girl's
sophisticated doctor father.
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