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The Turn of the Screw and The Aspern Papers

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  5,990 Ratings  ·  249 Reviews
In these two chilling stories, Henry James shows himself to be a master of haunting atmosphere and unbearable tension. The Turn of the Screw tells of a young governess sent to a country home to take charge of two orphans, Miles and Flora. Unsettled by a sense of intense evil within the house, she soon becomes obsessed with the belief that malevolent forces are stalking the ...more
Paperback, 180 pages
Published 2000 by Wordsworth (first published 1898)
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Apr 07, 2013 Sketchbook rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
James is always about thwarted desire and/or sexual repression,
like the man's own life. In "Screw" the sublimated sexuality of the governess turns her into a mental case; she destroys 2 children with her fantasies of corruption. Are the kiddies innocent? I dont think so, but they are sweet. The (deceiving) framework is a ghost story. This fools Dum Reader.

In "Aspern" a naive-repressed editor tries to coax
a crusty dowager and her cock-hungry niece to part with some
historic papers, but the ladies
Roy Lotz
For the second time, I have had the misfortune of choosing to reading Henry James alongside another difficult author. The first time it was Proust; this time, Joyce. So, instead of getting the desired relief from literary headache, I get an extension of it. But, of course, the fault is mine, not Henry’s.

When reading Henry James’s work, I am reminded of a remark Stephen King made about Stanley Kubrick: that “he thinks too much and feels too little.” One gets the impression that, as Henry wrote, h
Jan 11, 2010 X rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Turn of the Screw was quite good, but difficult to read due to the gothic language. The subtle mystery and non-so-subtle supernatural elements were gripping, but the ending left me, at least, still wondering about a few unresolved things.

I had no idea what to expect from The Aspern Papers, but I found it easier to follow than The Turn of the Screw and even enjoyed its lovely Venetian setting and the narrator's attempt to outwit the old lady who possessed the papers in question. I'm not sure
Sep 30, 2011 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: big-white-square
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 04, 2013 Sam rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ok, I didn't actually read the Aspern Papers, just The Turn of the Screw. It was recommended by a member of our book club.

Firstly, I found it hard going. It often took me two attempts at reading a sentence to understand it clearly. I can't quite put my finger on the problem, it was clearly written in English, but the sentence structure (which was probably perfectly correct) was (in some parts) almost unintelligible.

The story itself is almost as confusing. I actually had to 'Google' it afterwards
Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
This review is associated with The Aspern Papers--

The Aspern Papers is a brilliant novella written by Henry James and serialized in the Atlantic in 1888. In short, The Aspern Papers is the story of an academic researcher, the novella's narrator, on the trail of bundles of personal letters and writings of a long-dead American poet, 'Jeffrey Aspern'. Apparently, these letters and papers are in the possession of a very old woman, Miss Juliana Bordereau, who lives with her middle-aged niece in an ol
Melissa Jackson
May 04, 2012 Melissa Jackson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite short stories, it's absolutely beautiful how creepy this book is. I need to reread it again!

(Even if I can't stare at the cover of this edition for too long without being convinced the children are standing behind me, just waiting. I gave this specific copy to my friend Liz one year for her birthday and upon opening it and being thrilled to finally own it, she shrieked and threw it away from her immediately. Seriously, this cover is horrifying up close.)

The Aspern Papers are
Susan McNally
I re-read this recently and what a glorious creepy tale.. those children little Miles and Flora. Many writers have tried to copy James's skill at leading the reader to the point where they realise the children are involved... in something quite horrible. A short story really but a great read.
Sep 04, 2011 Oria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is something about the classics that just wouldn’t go away. Not that I want it to, I have to add. Every now and then I feel the need for the convoluted language, the turned phrases, the intricately constructed sentences that make my head spin and my mind feel like I’ve just been mentally tortured. And yet, it is a sweet torture, and one I find comfort in from time to time.

The only other book by Henry James I’ve read was "The Portrait of a Lady" and while I wasn’t exactly swept away by it,
No one seems to do gothic horror and be able to make the hair on the back of my neck stand up as well as Authors from this era; whether they are hinting at insanity or embracing it and giving it coffee, this novella has to rank up there with The Yellow Wallpaper. When the reader first embarks into this tale it would seem the perfect accompaniment to a cold winter night and a cosy fire place, after all it’s short in length and reads fairly quickly if you can come to grips with the style in which ...more
Nov 27, 2011 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Although the book is very dense, it starts to clear up after a chapter or two and it becomes rather easy to read Jame's writing. Actually, his writing is pretty clear and interesting once you get used to it. I don't honestly believe it was as creepy as some people say, although there certainly are one or two spots that are very scary. Overall, a very big buildup to a great ending. I thought the ending wouldn't be very dramatic or intense, but it certainly is. Throughout the story you are left qu ...more
Oct 18, 2009 Jill rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
I read somewhere that the Internet has so warped/conditioned our brain to so-called "multi-tasking" that the brain is no longer able to engage in deep reading without the utmost difficulty. This was the experience I had reading Henry James for the first time. The Aspern Papers and The Turn of the Screw had intriguing enough plots and characters, but it was just immensely challenging, somehow, to make it through the text. It wasn't about the length of the sentences - which, truth be told, were no ...more
I REALLY don't enjoy how Henry James writes. His language style is laborious and completely grammatically incorrect, so it's hard to get through. I didn't really like the story that much because it was too ambiguous. My husband told me about the theories behind this book - that the governess was crazy and none of this ever happened, that she was obsessed with sex, that she might have killed the boy. I say that I don't really know that the story delves all that deep. I feel like by leaving out so ...more
Kristi Sawyer
Aug 25, 2015 Kristi Sawyer rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, classics
So first onto The Turn of the Screw: James, you disappoint me. I have never read gothic horror before, and after this I don't think I'll be picking up another for a while! I expected to be reeled in, and for the story to be holding me tightly as we fly through a literary rollercoaster...none of which happened. I just didn't really get the story, sorry James!

The Aspern Papers however, was much better! :) The blurb was right in saying that James flourishes when telling stories of Americans in Euro
May 27, 2014 Maureen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I came for The Turn of the Screw, and stayed for The Aspern Papers. The first is the more famous, and enormously influential - but I enjoyed the second more. This was partly because the prose is less dense and difficult to read, and partly because, unlike with The Turn of the Screw, I wasn't already familiar with the plot. So, to help you readers enjoy it also, I will say no more on the matter.
Jun 13, 2012 Helen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
All I got from this book is the answer to the following questions:

1. Which author used so many commas, colons, semi and full, hyphens and exclamation marks, that his over-long sentences became impossible to comprehend?

2. Which fictional character would you most like to push down a long flight of stairs?

All I need now is for someone to ask.....
Two short stories by Henry James. Not bad, all things considered, but his writing style is notoriously dense, and may dissuade a lot of potential readers. His endings were pretty shocking, though, and actually building up suspense despite his flowery style is a worthy achievement.
Sep 01, 2016 sanne_reads rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3,5* The Aspern Papers
3,5 * The Turn of the Screw - I just finished this one. I loved the creepy/spooky element and how I still don't really get what happend. I can guess at it though, and I like that.
pierlapo  quimby
Erano anni che volevo leggere Giro di vite e ora che l'ho fatto sono alquanto deluso. Sono di fronte, forse, ad uno di quei casi in cui la lettura critica rende l'opera, nel tempo, migliore di quello che è?
Invece il Carteggio Aspern è un vero gioiello, dalla prima all'ultima parola.
Jacques Coulardeau
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 ...more
Aug 31, 2015 Sierra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Aspern Papers:
This story has all the makings of great and early James. An ambitious and ambivalent man, a woman scorned turned scornful, a ghostly figure set to watch with stormy eyes over the wrongs committed on the page, and black gondolas like lacquered coffins drifting through the midnight hung canals of Venice. There is no true romance to this tale-- the one the reader in interested in is long buried and its ghosts kept hidden-- and the false admiration between the narrator and Tina, is
Dec 09, 2016 Lobstergirl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: bandolier designers
Shelves: own, fiction

Please note, four stars does not mean I approve of dialogue like this:*

"So she went to -"


She hung fire. "To the gentleman's residence."

"The gentleman's residence?"

"Yes, you know, in case of -"

"Oh, yes, well..."

She hung fire. "He wasn't exactly a gentleman."

"Wasn't a gentleman?"

"No, and it caused problems later -"

"Later? If only it had been sooner."


They hung fire.

"Everything depended on when she went -"

"When she went? Why? Because of -"

"Yes." He hung fire. "Or -"


"Well - you cou
Lynn Demsky
Oct 30, 2016 Lynn Demsky rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, as old as it is! Glad it's back for us readers! It's short so you can read it quickly and pretty much about a governess who watching over two children coming to fear that the mansion is haunted by ghosts and that the children are both possessed!
Hendlefrink Brinklestone
The Turn of the Screw was a labor to read because Henry James uses such convoluted language. The pace is painfully slow. It does have some interesting sequences involving the children and the sinister former employees of Bly manor. This book may appeal to Henry James fans or academics, but if you are looking for 19th century gothic horror, you might be more engaged by reading alternative stories by authors who know how to tell a story while being concise.
4.5 stars.

This isn't the first time that The Turn of the Screw and I have met. Four years ago, I read this for my GCSE coursework, but at the time I didn't enjoy it. That wasn't so much to do with the book itself (even though the ambiguity did frustrate me at the time); most of it was my frustration with my English teacher and my hatred of reading aloud in class. My school memories of The Turn of the Screw aren't the fondest, and for a long time I put off reading it again. However, given my sudd
Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in May 1998.

The Aspern Papers is a story of a scholarly obsession. The narrator is an expert on the (imaginary) American poet, Jeffrey Aspern. He and a friend are working on a biography of Aspern, when they discover that his lover, the inspiration for some of his most famous poems, is not dead as they expected but living as a reclusive old lady in Venice with her niece.

Believing her to have some papers which might make his name academically, and the direct ap
Jan 14, 2016 Philip rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Henry James, great though his name remains, can be something of an acquired taste for some readers. Lest it be said, in terms a lay person unacquainted with this writer’s indeed impressive array of both products and talents, that this particular artist of the written word might, on occasions perhaps far too frequent to count, might occasionally employ one or two - let us fall short of the word ‘many’ - employ just a few too many of the aforementioned raw materials of his craft - words - for good ...more
Oct 06, 2016 JoAnne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to JoAnne by: Amber Bowles
"I wondered why SHE would be scared". Page 170
"He was absolutely, on this occasion, a living detestable dangerous presence." Page 195
Dec 11, 2011 Antje rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I was very surprised at how much I like both "The Turn of the Screw" and "The Aspern Papers". I have never read anything by Henry James before (apart from "The art of fiction", see below). This is what I loved about the stories:
James really creates a sense of place and an atmosphere. He paints a series of very vivid pictures. In fact, anyone who has read "The art of fiction" must be struck with how much he takes his own advice. In "The Turn of the Screw" I could really imagine the scene where P
Jan 02, 2015 sabisteb rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Ich kannte „The turn of the screw“ vor allem als Hörspiel. Die Geschichte an sich, in bearbeiteter Form als Hörspiel, ist genial. Wunderbar zweideutig. Das Buch jedoch…
Ich hatte schon gehört, dass Henry James berühmt berüchtigt für seinen verschachtelten Satzbaus ist. Ich habe viel viktorianische Literatur gelesen, streng genommen habe ich mit viktorianischen Büchern Englisch gelernt. Ich leide unter den kurzen, abgehackten Sätzen der modernen Literatur. Aber was zu viel ist, ist zu viel! James
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Henry James, OM, son of theologian Henry James Sr., brother of the philosopher and psychologist William James and diarist Alice James, was an American-born author, one of the founders and leaders of a school of realism in fiction. He spent much of his life in England and became a British subject shortly before his death. He is primarily known for a series of major novels in which he portrayed the ...more
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