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The Turn of the Screw: Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism
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The Turn of the Screw: Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  262 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
The story starts conventionally enough with friends sharing ghost stories 'round the fire on Christmas Eve. One of the guests tells about a governess at a country house plagued by supernatural visitors. But in the hands of Henry James, the master of nuance, this little tale of terror is an exquisite gem of sexual and psychological ambiguity. Only the young governess can se ...more
Paperback, 313 pages
Published November 1st 1994 by Bedford Books
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I just could not finish Turn of the Screw. Short as it is, the book is a big chore. It's too bad, because the story itself is interesting to me, as is the ambiguity about whether supernatural things are really happening. Likewise, James' prose style, while very much not to my personal taste, is certainly not bad. As a combination, however, plot and style are terrible. The lengthy, convoluted sentences and slowness of narration completely sap any sense of fear, urgency, or even unease from the si ...more
May 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
oh the wonderfully creepy ambiguity that is the prose of Henry James:

"On the spot, accordingly, in the pleasant hall and with her eyes on me, I, for a reason that I couldn't then have phrased, achieved an inward resolution--offered a vague pretext for my lateness and, with the plea of the beauty of the night and of the heavy dew and wet feet, went as soon as possible to my room."

Allison (The Allure of Books)
I enjoyed the critical responses to the book about 10 times better than the text itself.
Oct 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had no idea so much had been written about this novella! There is a lot packed into this book of literary criticism, interpretations ranging from the psychoanalytic to the Marxist. Is the governess really seeing ghosts? Or is she mad? Over 100 years since its publication and it’s one of the most analyzed works in literary history. If I hadn’t been afraid of public speaking when I was younger, I would have loved to spend my days reading and discussing literature. As it is, it’s a passionate ho ...more
Jan 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature, book-club
This one was for October's book club and I just finished it, so it took me forever to read, despite its brevity. It is delightfully ambiguous and appropriately creepy, whether you believe the ghosts are real or not. The style takes some getting used to, but I eventually got into the rhythm of it and found it easier to follow. Read it on a dark and stormy night in front of a nice, cozy fire.

This edition is excellent, especially if you're interested in the very robust and ongoing critical discussi
Feb 13, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
No sir, I did not like it. These proper English folk were more concerned about propriety and manners than the freakin' ghosts in their house.
Dec 07, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm so tired and I hate this story but the criticism part is cool lol
Brian Murray
This is THE classic ghost story. And for a work of horror written over 100 years ago, it holds up pretty well.

This novel satisfies as a mystery, as a work of horror, and as a work of literature. James maintains a creepy atmosphere the entire novel and gives just enough hints and clues to draw you in. However, there is no definitive answer to why or how this is happening, or what it has to do with the story. This is not due to neglect, but rather intentional ambiguity, allowing you to interpret t
Apr 09, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read the third edition of this! I started the story on Tuesday the 7th of Feb., I think. I then finished the book before my Feb. 17th class on the 16th. So really I read this book in about ten days with discussions after each section, but then we were reading the essays. I read James's bio and background info, four different criticisms as well as their intros by Murfin, and we even separately has to read Walton's old feminist criticism and the feminist intro that went with it (from the second ed ...more
Feb 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I must admit a bias: I rarely have anything good to say about Henry James. An American attempting to be British (and claimed by both countries), James often tries too hard to maintain the traditional forms of fiction in an era of growing experimentation. One imagines James reading a lot of Dickens before sitting down to write. In short, he's a fuddy-duddy. Little wonder, then, that his finest book (in my opinion and in that of his reading public, at any rate) is the one he wrote most quickly, wi ...more
Matt Walters Walters
In reviewing this text, I must note how it is almost three texts to me. First, out has the story itself, split appropriately into installments so that one may read James's thriller as readers did when Collier printed TotS or the New York edition. Next, there are the additional texts, including James's letters and primary documents on governesses of the time. Finally, the academic analysis of TotS makes up the last 40% of the book.

I note these three parts for one main reason: the latter parts an
Apr 23, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
So as not to prejudice any prospective readings of The Turn of the Screw, (When you read this particular edition you will understand the reasoning behind my obsequious reticence) I would just like to relate my comments to something another reviewer drew attention to without sharing too much of my own opinion of the novel.

I had to read this during the second year of my English undergraduate course and it formed the basis of a wider study of critical and political theories (i.e Marxism, Feminism,
May 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
James is incredible at developing the psychological aspects of the story and the narrator, to a degree that I envy. His construction of sentences does tend to be complex to the point of not being entirely clear. I'm on the fence as to whether this is just annoying or if it's a clever way of pulling the reader in by making them think harder about the text. The effect seemed to be the latter for me, as I had a hard time putting the book down.
Mar 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
There is a lot going on in this story, especially for how show it is. There are many different ways it can be interpreted, and there are several possibilities of what actually happened. Henry James is one of our greatest writers, particularly of the ghost story. This story, in particular, is well-written and well-executed. I don't want to go into what happens very much, because it will color your own interpretations, but it is worth a read, and even if it isn't your thing, the story itself is on ...more
Jan 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this so much more than I thought I would! I technically haven't finished this entire book (because the second half consists of essays and analyses) but I decided to count this as read since I finished the actual story. I'll be finishing the rest of the book later this semester. I would definitely recommend reading this!
Jack Phoenix
Apr 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An incredible blend of Gothic and Realism, "Turn of the Screw" sends the reader into a tailspin, questioning what is real and what is moral.
Dec 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teaching
Reading this story a few years ago independently was interesting and enlightening in its own right; but reading it to prepare to teach it, and in the context of the hugely worthwhile essays that appear in this edition both before and after, opened this story up in wondrous and exciting ways.

The ambiguity of the entire tale, matched with the underlying possibilities of gender, class, and psychological messages, made this a truly gripping and illuminating read.
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