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Turn of the Screw

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This edition of James's classic novel presents the 1908 New York Edition along with five critical essays - newly commissioned or revised for a student audience - that read The Turn of the Screw from five contemporary critical perspectives. Each critical essay is accompanied by a succinct introduction to the history, principles, and practice of the critical perspective and by a bibliography that promotes further exploration of that approach. In addition, the text and essays are complemented by an introduction ...
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The Turn of the Screw

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Overview

This edition of James's classic novel presents the 1908 New York Edition along with five critical essays - newly commissioned or revised for a student audience - that read The Turn of the Screw from five contemporary critical perspectives. Each critical essay is accompanied by a succinct introduction to the history, principles, and practice of the critical perspective and by a bibliography that promotes further exploration of that approach. In addition, the text and essays are complemented by an introduction providing biographical and historical contexts for James and The Turn of the Screw, a survey of critical responses to the novel since its initial publication, and a glossary of critical and theoretical terms.

The governess of two enigmatic children fears their souls are in danger from the ghosts of the previous governess and her sinister lover.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Flosnik assumes the upper- and lower-class accents of nineteenth-century England, delivering the different voices with the rendition of a theatrical performance." —-AudioFile
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Henry James (1843-1916), American novelist and critic, was an innovator in technique and a distinctive prose stylist. More than any previous writer, James refined the technique of narrating a novel from the point of view of a character, thereby laying the foundations of modern stream-of-consciousness fiction. Among his many acclaimed novels are The Portrait of a Lady, The Ambassadors, The Golden Bowl, and The Wings of the Dove..

Biography

Henry James (1843-1916), born in New York City, was the son of noted religious philosopher Henry James, Sr., and brother of eminent psychologist and philosopher William James. He spent his early life in America and studied in Geneva, London and Paris during his adolescence to gain the worldly experience so prized by his father. He lived in Newport, went briefly to Harvard Law School, and in 1864 began to contribute both criticism and tales to magazines. In 1869, and then in 1872-74, he paid visits to Europe and began his first novel, Roderick Hudson. Late in 1875 he settled in Paris, where he met Turgenev, Flaubert, and Zola, and wrote The American (1877). In December 1876 he moved to London, where two years later he achieved international fame with Daisy Miller. Other famous works include Washington Square (1880), The Portrait of a Lady (1881), The Princess Casamassima (1886), The Aspern Papers (1888), The Turn of the Screw (1898), and three large novels of the new century, The Wings of the Dove (1902), The Ambassadors (1903) and The Golden Bowl (1904). In 1905 he revisited the United States and wrote The American Scene (1907). During his career, he also wrote many works of criticism and travel. Although old and ailing, he threw himself into war work in 1914, and in 1915, a few months before his death, he became a British subject. In 1916 King George V conferred the Order of Merit on him. He died in London in February 1916.

Author biography courtesy of Penguin Group (USA).

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    1. Date of Birth:
      April 15, 1843
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Death:
      February 28, 1916
    2. Place of Death:
      London, England
    1. Education:
      Attended school in France and Switzerland; Harvard Law School, 1862-63

Read an Excerpt

The Turn of the Screw


By James, Henry

Tor Books

Copyright © 1993 James, Henry
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780812533415

one
 
 
I remember the whole beginning as a succession of flights and drops, a little see-saw of the right throbs and the wrong. After rising, in town, to meet his appeal I had at all events a couple of very bad days---found all my doubts bristle again, felt indeed sure I had made a mistake. In this state of mind I spent the long hours of bumping swinging coach that carried me to the stopping-place at which I was to be met by a vehicle from the house. This convenience, I was told, had been ordered, and I found, toward the close of the June afternoon, a commodious fly in waiting for me. Driving at that hour, on a lovely day, through a country the summer sweetness of which served as a friendly welcome, my fortitude revived and, as we turned into the avenue, took a flight that was probably but a proof of the point to which it had sunk. I suppose I had expected, or had dreaded, something so dreary that what greeted me was a good surprise. I remember as a thoroughly pleasant impression the broad clear front, its open windows and fresh curtains and the pair of maids looking out; I remember the lawn and the bright flowers and the crunch of my wheels on the gravel and the clustered tree-tops over which the rooks circled and cawed in the golden sky. The scene had a greatness that made it a different affair from my own scant home, and there immediately appeared at the door, with alittle girl in her hand, a civil person who dropped me as decent a curtsey as if I had been the mistress or a distinguished visitor. I had received in Harley Street a narrower notion of the place, and that, as I recalled it, made me think the proprietor still more of a gentleman, suggested that what I was to enjoy might be a matter beyond his promise.
I had no drop again till the next day, for I was carried triumphantly through the following hours by my introduction to the younger of my pupils. The little girl who accompanied Mrs. Grose affected me on the spot as a creature too charming not to make it a great fortune to have to do with her. She was the most beautiful child I had ever seen, and I afterwards wondered why my employer hadn't made more of a point to me of this. I slept little that night-I was too much excited; and this astonished me too, I recollect, remained with me, adding to my sense of the liberality with which I was treated. The large impressive room, one of the best in the house, the great state bed, as I almost felt it, the figured full draperies, the long glasses in which, for the first time, I could see myself from head to foot, all struck me--like the wonderful appeal of my small charge--as so many things thrown in. It was thrown in as well, from the first moment, that I should get on with Mrs. Grose in a relation over which, on my way, in the coach, I fear I had rather brooded. The one appearance indeed that in this early outlook might have made me shrink again was that of her being so inordinately glad to see me. I felt within half an hour that she was so glad---stout simple plain clean wholesome woman--as to be positively on her guard against showing it too much. I wondered even then a little why she should wish not to show it, and that, with reflexion, with suspicion, might of course have made me uneasy.
But it was a comfort that there could be no uneasiness in a connexion with anything so beatific as the radiant image of my little girl, the vision of whose angelic beauty had probably more than anything else to do with the restlessness that, before morning, made me several times rise and wander about my room to take in the whole picture and prospect; to watch from my open window the faint summer dawn, to look at such stretches of the rest of the house as I could catch, and to listen, while in the fading dusk the first birds began to twitter, for the possible recurrence of a sound or two, less natural and not without but within, that I had fancied I heard. There had been a moment when I believed I recognised, faint and far, the cry of a child; there had been another when I found myself just consciously starting as at the passage, before my door, of a light footstep. But these fancies were not marked enough not to be thrown off, and it is only in the light, or the gloom, I should rather say, of other and subsequent matters that they now come back to me. To watch, teach, "form" little Flora would too evidently be the making of a happy and useful life. It had been agreed between us downstairs that after this first occasion I should have her as a matter of course at night, her small white bed being already arranged, to that end, in my room. What I had undertaken was the whole care of her, and she had remained just this last time with Mrs. Grose only as an effect of our consideration for my inevitable strangeness and her natural timidity. In spite of this timidity--which the child herself, in the oddest way in the world, had been perfectly frank and M brave about, allowing it, without a sign of uncomfortable consciousness, with the deep sweet serenity indeed of one of Raphael's holy infants, to be discussed, to be imputed to her and to determine us--I felt quite sure she would presently like me. It was part of what I already liked Mrs. Grose herself for, the pleasure I could see her feel in my admiration and wonder as I sat at supper with four tall candles and with my pupil, in a high chair and a bib, brightly facing me between them over bread and milk. There were naturally things that in Flora's presence could pass between us only as prodigious and gratified looks, obscure and round-about allusions.
"And the little boy--does he look like her? Is he too so very remarkable?"
One wouldn't, it was already conveyed between us, too grossly flatter a child. "Oh Miss, most remarkable. If you mink well of this one!"--and she stood there with a plate in her hand, beaming at our companion, who looked from one of us to the other with placid heavenly eyes that contained nothing to check us.
"Yes; if I do--?"
"You will be carried away by the little gentleman!"
"Well, that, I think, is what I came for--to be carried away. I'm afraid, however," I remember feeling the impulse to add, "I'm rather easily carried away. I was carried away in London!"
I can still see Mrs. Grose's broad face as she took this in. "In Harley Street?"
"In Harley Street."
"Well, Miss, you're not the first--and you won't be the last."
"Oh I've no pretensions," I could laugh, "to being the only one. My other pupil, at any rate, as I understand, comes back to-morrow?"
"Not to-morrow--Friday, Miss. He arrives, as you did, by the coach, under care of the guard, and is to be met by the same carriage."
I forthwith wanted to know if the proper as well as the pleasant and friendly thing wouldn't therefore be that on the arrival of the public conveyance I should await him with his little sister; a proposition to which Mrs. Grose assented so heartily that I somehow took her manner as a kind of comforting pledge--never falsified, thank heaven!--that we should on every question be quite at one. Oh she was glad I was there!
What I felt the next day was, I suppose, nothing that could be fairly called a reaction from the cheer of my arrival; it was probably at the most only a slight oppression produced by a fuller measure of the scale, as I walked round them, gazed up at them, took them in, of my new circumstances. They had, as it were, an extent and mass for which I had not been prepared and in the presence of which I found myself, freshly, a little scared not less than a little proud. Regular lessons, in this agitation, certainly suffered some wrong; I reflected that my first duty was, by the gentlest arts I could contrive, to win the child into the sense of knowing me. I spent the day with her out of doors; I arranged with her, to her great satisfaction, that it should be she, she only, who might show me the place. She showed it step by step and room by room and secret by secret, with droll delightful childish talk about it and with the result, in half an hour, of our becoming tremendous friends. Young as she was I was struck, throughout our little tour, with her confidence and courage, with the way, in empty chambers and dull corridors, on crooked staircases that made me pause and even on the summit of an old machicolated square tower that made me dizzy, her morning music, her disposition to tell me so many more things than she asked, rang out and led me on. I have not seen Bly since the day I left it, and I dare say that to my present older and more informed eyes it would show a very reduced importance. But as my little conductress, with her hair of gold and her frock of blue, danced before me round corners and pattered down passages, I had the view of a castle of romance inhabited by a rosy sprite, such a place as would somehow, for diversion of the young idea, take all colour out of story-books and fairytales. Wasn't it just a story-book over which I had fallen a-doze and a-dream? No; it was a big ugly antique but convenient house, embodying a few features of a building still older, half-displaced and half-utilised, in which I had the fancy of our being almost as lost as a handful of passengers in a great drifting ship. Well, I was strangely at the helm!
 
All new material copyright ; 1993 by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.


Continues...

Excerpted from The Turn of the Screw by James, Henry Copyright © 1993 by James, Henry. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 52 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(11)

4 Star

(17)

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(12)

2 Star

(7)

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(5)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 52 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 1999

    Not an 'easy' read, but worth the effort

    James' prose wasn't spun out on a word processor for reading in an airport or bus station. It takes effort to follow the tightly constructed sentences. But those who do will be rewarded with a great read. No disembodied hands, moving furniture or gore, just spine-tingling horror. Having seen the film actually helps, since it was so well cast you can picture the actors as you read the story.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2003

    Dry but worth it

    I find Henry James' writing to be a bit dry but regarless, I still enjoyed this book. James does an excellent job of alluding to a controversial topic that was not openly talked about in Victorian England. He cleverly goes around the topic to avoid strict criticism, and does it in exquisite prose. It takes a little time to interpret but is worth it.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2012

    Good

    I liked it BUT it was a hard read. The writing and trying to "read between the lines" of what the teacher and maid are saying. But I did and I loved the gothic air.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 23, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Good read

    I've never read this story before, and I admittedly had some trouble following the storyline off and on, but overall, it's pretty good book if you don't mind wading through the broken conversations and lost ideas.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2003

    Henry James: pompous blathering extraordinaire

    It's not the worst thing I've ever read, to be sure; but it's far from the best. To begin with, James' style is convoluted to an unnecessary degree, making it sometimes a labor to wade through a sentence that a more straightforward author -- Dickens, say -- could have expressed in half as many words. James' characters are almost uniform in voice: one may observe immediately that Douglas, the narrator, and the governess all speak in very much the same manner. The story drags, and the ending is hardly worth having disentangled so much parenthetical confusion to arrive at (James seems to think it a mark of great literacy to express 90% of his story in dependant clauses between commas -- between other dependant clauses between other commas...). In short, there are better books in both the category of Classics and the category of Horror. In the former category, I would recommend anything whatsoever by Oscar Wilde (The Canterville Ghost is rather amusing, for instance); in the latter category, I would recommend several works of Stephen King's (The Dark Half, The Shining, Skeleton Crew...). There is nothing wrong with Henry James, I'll admit -- but that's a poor compliment, and little reason to buy a novel, eh?

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2002

    The Screw Was Turned A Bit Too Hard. . .

    To fully understand this book, a lot of outside-source comprehension is needed. I bought it for a quick read, but found out I made a mistake. It's power and complete insanity was too much to handle for a one-night-read. So I threw it on the ground and went to bed. Upon waking up I stepped off the bed only to slip on the book and end up with a bed headache. When trying to read the rest, I found the pain was too unbearable. I guess it was just bad luck. If you want a classic horror story, this is a good read. . . I guess.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 4, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Last week was gloomy and rainy, so I was in the mood for a good,

    Last week was gloomy and rainy, so I was in the mood for a good, short ghost story. I’m a big wuss when it comes to this genre, but Rory at Fourth Street Review assured me that, as far as horror goes, this one isn’t so bad. She’s right, although if I had seen this version of the cover before reading the book, I definitely wouldn’t have picked it up.




    Despite its scant 120 pages, The Turn of the Screw is by no means a quick read. It’s been several years since I read Henry James and I forgot how long it takes to read his books. Regardless, it was a good one. The book centers around a woman (the narrator) who takes a job as governess to two young children, Miles and Flora, only to encounter ghostly evils that are trying to capture their attention. The problem is that the children are not only unafraid of the ghosts, they seem to want them around. This, of course, makes them susceptible to embracing the evil that is courting them.




    This book is a classic, so I’m not going to write a lengthy review or analysis of the story, but I will say that it’s a great book to curl up with on a dark and stormy day. It’s a good, old-fashioned ghost story, complete with a sprawling estate and creepy children. Plus, it’s in the public domain and you can read it for free!




    Allison @ The Book Wheel

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2012

    Anoomys

    Not much of a ghost story but good

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2009

    Not A Ghost Story

    Based upon its "classic" status I assumed I was going to be in for a treat when I decided to read The Turn of the Screw. Instead, I became bogged down in a surprisingly short but long winded novel. As I continued to read, it became extremely difficult to finish a single sentence, let alone an entire page. It was, by today's standards, not worthy of being called a ghost story, and with the exception of a few creepy moments, overly dramatic. The novel is incredibly dense, too dense for just a recreational read. If you are looking for a good Halloween novel or just a good scary story, leave this book in the warehouse where it belongs.

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2007

    very much of its time, but not much today

    Much ado about absolutely nothing. It may have created and sustained tension and horror when it was written but now it is mostly belabored, overextended prose. James adds a whole new meaning and depth... to the words verbose and prolix. It is said that his reputation went downwards immediately after death. This story is one good reason why.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2002

    THE HOUSE OF THE GHOST

    This book from the beginning was a confusing book you have this lady who comes in from another place to discover that their are ghost living in this house and the housekeeper tries to avoid it, but eventually she finds out. While i was reading this book it had me on my toes and the more i read the more i got into it this is byfar the best book i read this semester and i am not exaggerating about it the story line was like this movie i had seen called The Others. This is enjoyable to read too. I would recommend it to everybody who likes scary stories about ghost.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2002

    WOW!!!!!!!!

    Everybody you have to read this book this is the best book that i have read this whole semester. When i say suspense i mean suspense while i was reading it felt like my chest was going to pop out. Here you have these people living at this estate and what!!! (Ghosts)and more (ghosts) trust me you will enjoy this book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2002

    This is an awsome ghost story

    The Turn of the Screw is a fascinating ghost story of terror.Its played out against the background of an English estate and the characters that now live at the estate,and the evil ones that have died.It is a combination of suspense and evil that keeps you wanting to know more about the characters.I would recommend this book to anyone interested in ghost stories.It,at times,is not an easy read but will keep you entertained to the end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2001

    Great Read!

    This book is a complex and captivating mystery which completely challenges even the brightest of minds. The structure and depth of the story is astonishing. This is not an easy read nor a light one, but it is surely worth the time it takes to read it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2001

    A Lot of Interpretation Required

    I read this book for class simply because my teacher reccomended it, saying it was a ghost story. However, the concept of spirits in this novel was overpowered by the great amount of interpretation needed to fully comprehend it. Henry James often makes subtle references to sexuality, and they are difficult to detect. The conclusion to the book is awful, yet the beginning leaves a mysterious effect on the reader. If you want to read a book that has many themes, hidden meanings, and symbolism, I recommend The Turn of the Screw.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 16, 2000

    A captivating treasure!

    This short novel is an amazing tale which is a twist to the mind. It will bring out the best curiousity in you as it releases a horrifying truth. I definitey recommend this book to ALL readers who are patient and enjoy a complex and exciting mystery.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2000

    This book is worth reading!!

    I think that this book was well worth reading. I was able to pick out some good symbols and at least 3 themes from this book. I liked the character who was the governess. She kind of played the angelic portion while the ghosts, if you will, played the part of the devil. This novel was a classic case of good vs. evil. I enjoyed it very much.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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