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The Turn of the Screw
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message 1: by Diane, Armchair Tour Guide (new) - rated it 3 stars

Diane | 12832 comments Start discussion here for The Turn of the Screw by Henry James.


Otavio Albano (otavioalbano) Nobody reading it?


Laurie | 616 comments I plan on it but I had to finish something else first. I will probably start reading this tomorrow.


message 4: by Cindy III (last edited Nov 26, 2015 08:35PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Cindy III | 44 comments I've read it before and it was confusing, so I might do a second reading if I find a copy at the library. Maybe I'll have a better understanding of events.


Otavio Albano (otavioalbano) Great! I started reading it yesterday and plan on finishing it by the weekend. It's quite confusing for me too!


Steven (stevop) | 1 comments I'm reading (just found this group as I was looking for a discussion topic to see what people think!) and I'm also a bit confused with whats going on - its a relief to see I'm not alone. I already think I'll have to reread it in the future.


message 7: by luxchan (new)

luxchan thavarasa (luxchanthavarasaisgonnadie) | 6 comments Hey everyone. I am new to the group and I am going to start this book today


message 8: by Harper (new)

Harper Sutherland | 17 comments I'm reading too! Will update with thoughts in hopefully another day or so.


Otavio Albano (otavioalbano) I couldn't finish it over the weekend, so bored I was... I finally did it last night and I gotta say that I'm hugely disappointed: in my opinion, it is confusing, boring and the ending quite nonsense... Let's see what you thought of it.


Laurie | 616 comments I have given this up for a while. There are other books I would like to get through before the end of the year. I am amazed at what a struggle this is to read and comprehend.


Otavio Albano (otavioalbano) Laurie wrote: "I have given this up for a while. There are other books I would like to get through before the end of the year. I am amazed at what a struggle this is to read and comprehend."

I get it, oh do I get it... ;)


Esther (eshchory) I found it an ordinary ghost story until I tried to view the events as an outsider - with rational explanations and no ghosts. Then I became quite horrified at what had happened.


message 13: by Lori (last edited Dec 08, 2015 03:21AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lori Goshert (lori_laleh) Well, Henry James is kind of a pain in the butt to read (I've read a couple of his books and can't decide if his style is great or pretentious).

This story was seriously creepy! I have a couple questions though; some things that weren't clear.

1. After the governess saw Miss Jessel sitting in the school room, why did she tell Mrs. Grose that Miss Jessel had spoken to her? When the governess is narrating the event, she gives the idea that the ghost just looked at her for awhile and disappeared. But then she tells Mrs. Grose that Miss Jessel had said she was suffering and wanted Flora to join her. Was it kind of a telepathic communication?

2. A religious question, as I'm not familiar with the Anglican church. If the ghosts want the children to die so that they can join them, how is this possible? Wouldn't the children, from a Christian point of view, just go to Heaven? But then there are a lot of ghost stories with children who are ghosts.

3. I wonder exactly how Mr. Quint was bad (aside from seducing the previous governess and probably drinking. And what he could have possibly taught to a 9-year-old to make him so attached? Why did the children want to be with Quint and Jessel, even after they had died? Presumably, Quint and Jessel hadn't known that they would die, so the designs they had on the children during their lives should have been different from what they had as ghosts.

Does anyone else want to discuss the book? I need to read some more of the background on it, but might not have time over the next couple of days, as work is busy right now.


message 14: by Lori (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lori Goshert (lori_laleh) And also, I wonder what happened afterwards - I mean, the boy died under suspicious circumstances, the girl either died (of a fever, caught by running out without a hat, while the governess should have been watching her) or told her uncle that the governess was trying to scare her. Obviously her account must have been believed, otherwise it seems unlikely that she would have been able to continue working as a governess. The narrator believed her, instead of telling her to get away from his sister.


Alana (alanasbooks) | 101 comments I've read it before, and mostly what I remember is that it's one of those short books that takes WAY too long to get through, because it's just weird and didn't get my attention. Very gothic, for sure, and a lot of other books and films make reference to it, but the story itself was only so-so for me.


Nahyan The prose of the story is quite exceptional and dream like. "I remember the whole beginning as a succession of flights and drops, a little seesaw of the right throbs and the wrong." What a great sentence. The frame to keep up the illusion I liked ("But Douglas, without heeding me, had begun to read with a fine clearness that was like a rendering to the ear of the beauty of his author's hand"- I do think pretentious, but that doesn't mean it's not good). I didn't really understand until chapter 6 or 7 when all of a sudden it clicked when weird stuff started happening and the whole thing made sense. Heart of Darkness is also short but tough to read, like poetry. Despite the brevity taking a trip to a nineteenth century world where people still had governesses was an interesting trip, I personally enjoy the style because I love Poe, the Bronte's, Dickens, Eliot, Hardy etc. who I feel are similar. It is easier if you are familiar with the style and nuances. I think that the holes in the narrators story between what actually happened and what she can report adds to the realism and the psychological horror. The children weren't scared of the ghosts I wasn't scared either but I have spent many nights in scary large mansions in the middle of nowhere around camp fires in the dark.


message 17: by Wolf (new) - rated it 5 stars

Wolf Ostheeren (hazelwolf) | 19 comments What a weird little book. But at least I know now where uncanny children come from... I think it is a nice twist on the Gothic tradition that you don't know what happened, that it doesn't get resolved if there actually were ghosts or not and that what happened is tragic either way. I also like the frame narrative (can you even call it that if the supposed frame isn't closed in the end?) and of course the style. The way James is just hinting at things and never telling you outright might drive me crazy when I'm in a different mood but today it was fascinating and tantalizing.

As to the children "joining" the ghosts: Since the ghosts apparently can't directly harm anyone here, it would involve some kind of suicide, wouldn't it? And that, I think, would send even a previously innocent child straight to hell.

The instance of Miss Jessel in the schoolroom, talking or not, is one I went back and reread at the time and that's another masterful ambivalence: I also would have sworn she hadn't said a word, but going back over it, there IS a lot of looking at each other and then nothing. It is unlikely that they talk since there is no other instance of it, but we don't know for sure.

I think it's masterfully done and well worth reading. But I had the luxury of being able to settle down with it for a whole afternoon and reading it in one go. If I had let go of it I might not have picked it up again either, who knows.


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