Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

Henry James at 16
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (1898,  112 pages)

Since I began my blog I have posted on two works by Henry James,   The Aspern Papers and The Portrait of a Lady.    Just before I began my blog I read two of his novels,  The Bostonians and The Europeans, both of which I think are good starter James books.  James is a very high canon status writer.

James (1843 to 1916-New York City) was a tremendously influential writer.    His novels are on almost all lists of 100 best novels ever.    He is not a "fast read".

I have had The Turn of the Screw on my TBR list long before I had the slightest idea what a TBR list was.   I finally got around to it a few days ago.    There are many blog posts on The Turn of the Screw.   Wikipedia has a good basic article on  the plot and themes of the work and there are lots of very well done blog posts on it.   My post is just going to be sort of a "reading note".

The Turn of the Screw is subject to multiple interpretations.   It might be a ghost story.  It might be about a mental illness and the fear children can sometimes induce in adults.   I liked the feel of unknown evil lurking in the background.   I liked the descriptions of the children and the wonderful prose.   To be a bit eccentric, I prefer The Aspern Papers (also a novella)  but I am glad I have at last read The Turn of the Screw.   I read a Barnes and Nobel edition but you can easily find it online.  

Mel u


Rebecca Chapman said...

I looooooved this story - one of my favourite ghost stories of all time. I read it all in one go and the hair on the back of my neck was on end the entire time. I think that it was definitely ghosts in that story and not mental illness

Mel u said...

Becky-thanks for sharing your experience with this work

Sam (Tiny Library) said...

I'm interested in this one although I've not read any of his works. Thanks for the review :)

Mel said...

Hi Mel U

I am glad you liked this one. I enjoyed it too when I read it last year, and at your recommendation I proceeded on to Daisy Miller, which is a delightful story (and also short). This year I have Portrait of a Lady on the TBR pile.

My favourite book last year was The Master by Colm Toibin, a novel based on James's life. I couldn't put it down. Henry James sounds like an intriguing character in his own right. I look forward to reading more of his work.

Danielle Zappavigna said...

Ugh, every time I read a review like this I am reminded of how few of the classics I've actually read and feel a tiiiny bit ashamed about it! I actually have a copy of this on my shelf - I got a second hand copy of a very old edition for 50c at a book sale, it's falling apart but that makes me think it was well loved so it must be good and I should read it soon!

Mel u said...

Sam-thanks for your visits and comment

Mel-I really want to read The Master Soon-I liked Portrait of a Lady a lot

mummazappa-I hope you enjoy it

Tasha said...

Have you seen the movie version with Deborah Kerr? It has one of the best, creepiest openings songs I've heard.