Paul's Reviews > The Turn of the Screw

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
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's review
Jun 10, 13

bookshelves: spooky-ookums, novels
Read from June 07 to 09, 2013

Paranormal Activity 6 : The Turn of the Screw



Anyway, great story, but I must mention three STYLISTIC ISSUES which may perhaps GRATE on the less patient reader.

1) In The Turn of the Screw, as in a lot of HJ’s stuff, people like to finish each other’s sentences :

“But aren’t they all – “
“Sent home? Yes.” P33

“Did she see anything in the boy –“
“That wasn’t right? She never told me.” P 36

“He couldn’t prevent –“
“Your learning the truth? I dare say!” p63

“Surely you don’t accuse him-“
“Of carrying on an intercourse that he conceals from me?” – p64

“That was the great reason – “
“Why those fiends took him in so long?” p77

“You leave him –“
“So long with Quint? Yes.” P97

2) And people very often answer questions with questions and avoid giving a straight answer :

“Do you fear for them?
“Don’t you?” – p47

“And you forgave him that?”
“Wouldn’t you?” p 63

“Well, do you like it?”
“Do you?” – p114

“Is that what you did at school?”
“At school?” – p 118

3) And being Henry James means that you sandbag your readers with sentences of remarkable opacity when they least expect it :

He never wrote to them – that may have been selfish, but it was part of the flattery of his trust of myself; for the way in which a man pays his highest tribute to a woman is apt to be but by the more festal celebration of one of the sacred laws of his comfort.


(I was okay until “be but by”)

It sufficiently stuck out, that by tacit little tricks in which even more than myself he carried out the care for my dignity, I had had to appeal to him to let me off straining to meet him on the ground of his true capacity.

P 111

I mean, what - uh - huh -

Anyhow, whatever, this is a P Bryant Must Read.

footnote :

for Screw fans, here's my follow-up review of all the lovely theories about it:
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Reading Progress

06/07/2013 marked as: currently-reading
06/09/2013 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-12 of 12) (12 new)

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Dolors scary stuff...

message 2: by Warwick (new)

Warwick For some reason I really love reviews that just list instances of some stylistic point…so I liked this very much. And I love those those convoluted HJ sentences, even though it's exactly the same thing that I find insufferable and unreadable in Proust (*ducks*)

Paul I do too - let me know if you find other similar reviews

message 4: by Warwick (new)

Warwick The most extreme example I remember is this one.

Paul yes I had previously enjoyed this - you will also like NGE's review of The Sea The Sea, which she has now exported to her blog here


message 6: by Cecily (last edited Jun 10, 2013 06:00AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Cecily Like Warwick, I enjoy quirky reviews like this that highlight the writing style (and quite often include such elements in my own, more recent, reviews).

I don't consciously remember noticing such specific quirks in the writing, but looking at my own review, which is nearly five years old and was when I wrote really brief ones, I noted "Too many commas in odd places, make it long and convoluted and yet simultaneously abrupt". Curious.

message 7: by Kate (new)

Kate I have a Turn of the Screw THEORY that I can't help finding at least a little bit brilliant... but I couldn't impress it upon the other people with whom I attended a discussion group last year. Frustrated then, may I try it out on you now?
In the frame story, the women in the listening group comment that Douglas, the man who has relayed the "true story as told to him by " his siter's former governess" is at least partly enamored of that woman. Tee hee. My theory: the woman was not only his sister's governess but his own. She was THE governess and the Douglas who supplies her written account is and was Miles, the bright little boy she scared nearly to death with her hysteria. The frame of the scary story is a love story.

Paul Nice one Kate - I will be discussing the whole universe of Screw theory in the review of this

which I'm just finishing off now....stay tuned...

Christina Wilder I can't believe I haven't freaking read this.

message 10: by Paul (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul You have to! you'll love it. In a creepy way.

Randolph Carter Everyone loves a sheet ghost.

message 12: by Jan (new)

Jan Rice I can't remember if I've read this!

...must practice answering question with question!

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