Paul Bryant's Reviews > The Turn of the Screw

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
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really liked it
bookshelves: spooky-ookums, novels
Read 2 times. Last read June 7, 2013 to June 9, 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

September 27, 2007 – Shelved
September 27, 2007 – Shelved as: spooky-ookums
June 7, 2013 – Started Reading
June 7, 2013 – Started Reading (Other Paperback Edition)
June 7, 2013 – Shelved (Other Paperback Edition)
June 9, 2013 – Shelved as: novels
June 9, 2013 –
page 189
48.96% (Other Paperback Edition)
June 9, 2013 –
page 223
57.77% ""the appalling chaos of critical opinions"" (Other Paperback Edition)
June 9, 2013 – Finished Reading
June 10, 2013 – Shelved as: litcrit (Other Paperback Edition)
June 10, 2013 – Finished Reading (Other Paperback Edition)

Comments Showing 1-22 of 22 (22 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 Bryant 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 Bryant 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.

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 Bryant 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...

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

Randolph Everyone loves a sheet ghost.

message 11: by Jan (new)

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

...must practice answering question with question!

Paula Cooper loved your review! witty and accurate.

message 13: by Paul (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul Bryant thanks Paula!

message 14: by Sud666 (new)

Sud666 wow didn't realize that it was up to the 5th edition

Indah I am currently reading this and it was exactly the sentence you point out after 3) that made me feel incredibly stupid whaha, I've now read it 5 times and I still haven't got a clue as to what James means exactly

message 16: by Paul (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul Bryant when you figure it out, please please let me know...

Indah I will, but I highly doubt it :)

Indah New idea: we're going to discuss it in my course next week, I'll try and ask my professor. perhaps he can shed some light on the matter

message 19: by Paul (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul Bryant give him both my sentences and report back! what fun.

Indah I shall!

Book worm Beqa Patsia Who knows? Who will ever know what really happened? It's written in first person.we know what the governss knows and at times she is highly unreliable.i am very confused but I believe she was crazy out of her mind imagining things and there weren't any it turned out to that she killed poor miles and she is really villan of this story

message 22: by Paul (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul Bryant I think that sounds about right, but old Henry wanted it to play both ways.

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