Turn of the Screw, The Aspern Papers and Two Stories (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Overview

The Turn of the Screw, The Aspern Papers and Two Stories, by Henry James, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes ...
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The Turn of the Screw, The Aspern Papers and Two Stories (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Overview

The Turn of the Screw, The Aspern Papers and Two Stories, by Henry James, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

 

Joseph Conrad once said of his friend Henry James, "As is meet for a man of his descent and tradition, Mr. James is the historian of fine consciences.” As it turns out, James was also incredibly gifted at writing exceptional ghost stories. This collection—including "The Beast in the Jungle” and "The Jolly Corner”—features James’s finest supernatural tales, along with criticism, a discussion of the legacies of James’s writing, and provocative study questions.

David L. Sweet is a professor of American and comparative literature at The American University in Cairo. He has also taught at Princeton, The City University of New York, The American University of Paris, and Columbia University, where he received his doctorate in Comparative Literature. His book Savage Sight/Constructed Noise: Poetic Adaptations of Painterly Techniques in the French and American Avant-Gardes will be published next year by the University of North Carolina.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593080433
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble
  • Publication date: 8/1/2003
  • Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 164,738
  • Product dimensions: 7.94 (w) x 5.26 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Meet the Author

David L. Sweet is a professor of American and comparative literature at The American University in Cairo. He has also taught at Princeton, The City University of New York, The American University of Paris, and Columbia University, where he received his doctorate in Comparative Literature. His book Savage Sight/Constructed Noise: Poetic Adaptations of Painterly Techniques in the French and American Avant-Gardes will be published next year by the University of North Carolina.

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

From David L. Sweet’s Introduction to The Turn of the Screw, The Aspern Papers, and Two Stories

The Turn of the Screw, The Aspern Papers and Two Stories brings together for the first time in a single volume four of Henry James’s most popular, most anthologized, and most artistically successful stories: the two mentioned by name plus "The Beast in the Jungle” and "The Jolly Corner.” At first glance the collection suggests a miscellany, with two long stories and two short ones, two ghost stories and two secular ones, and each, except for the last two, written at very different stages of the author’s career. Yet these generic incompatibilities soon yield before the pleasure of discovering a subtle consistency among them. If any one story establishes a framework for this unity, it is The Turn of the Screw, around which the others are formally and thematically involved. But they are involved, perhaps, "in a direction unusual”—as James’s narrator-governess describes her own efforts to confront the supernatural by redirecting her sense of the natural. It is this question of imaginatively adjusting the natural, of redeploying and reworking familiar ways of seeing in order to face down the apparently "unnatural,” that jointly concerns these four fictions.

James wrote what was to become his most famous tale in the wake of the popular failure of his play Guy Domville in January 1895, when the author was personally subjected to catcalls and boos from the audience on opening night in London, an experience that terminated his cherished desire to be a celebrated dramatist (Edel, Henry James: A Life). After retreating, a week later, to the home of his friend Edward White Benson, the archbishop of Canterbury, James recorded a curious anecdote told by his host about two children in a country house to whom the ghosts of former servants, "wicked and depraved” (Kaplan, Henry James: The Imagination of Genius: A Biography,), had appeared. It is our first trace of a tale that the author would eventually make his own, most importantly through the creation of the unnamed governess who narrates it. The work is a tour de force of narrative ambiguity in that the reader can never decide whether the governess is protecting her young pupils from real ghosts or hysterically projecting the ghosts in response to deeply repressed libidinal yearnings. Though the latter reading was first proposed almost seventy years ago by the American critic Edmund Wilson and has been subjected to critical reappraisals ever since, it continues to influence much of the discussion of the work today (DeKoven, "Gender, History and Modernism in The Turn of the Screw,”).

Even in its initial serialization for Collier’s Weekly in 1898, The Turn of the Screw was interpreted by some as an illustration of a psychological disorder rather than as an artfully written tale of the supernatural. James himself urbanely dismissed such interpretations during his lifetime, explaining to various doctors and psychologists that the parallels they detected between his governess and their patients were simply the effects of an overriding artistry: "My conscious intention strikes you as having been larger than I deserve it should be thought. It is the intention so primarily, with me, always, of the artist, the painter, that that, is what I most myself feel in it. . . . ” To Frederic Myers, a colleague of his brother William at the Society for Psychical Research, James’s response was more casual: He described the work as "a very mechanical matter, I honestly think—an inferior, a merely pictorial, subject and rather a shameless potboiler” (Kaplan, p. 413). Yet in resisting a psychiatric reading, James enlarges the story’s interpretive appeal as an effect of his more encompassing vision—one that, for him, necessarily suspended judgment about the spiritual and the demonic as a way of deflecting the relentless, modern disenchantment of the world and reinvesting it with poetic interest.

James’s own youth was not entirely sanitized of the supernatural. His father, a religious freethinker strongly influenced by the writings of Swedenborg, had once had a vision of a "damned shape” radiating from his "fetid personality influences fatal to life” (Kaplan, p. 13). And while the youthful Henry insulated himself from many of his father’s ideas through an almost defensive shyness, Henry James Senior succeeded in imparting to his son a vivid sense of good and evil. The communication of this sensibility was supplemented by frequent and sustained travels to Europe in restless pursuit of a suitably progressive education for the James children, a quest aided by a comfortable inheritance from Henry Senior’s own enterprising father. Thus The Turn of the Screw—dictated in Lamb House in Rye, England, which the mature author had purchased because it reminded him of his youth (Knowles, "'The Hideous Obscure’: The Turn of the Screw and Oscar Wilde,”)—represents a retreat from the glare of public attention and a reexamination of youthful inquiries about the relationship between knowledge and evil.

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Customer Reviews

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  • Posted June 9, 2010

    Not quite what I was expecting (3 1/2 stars)

    I started out this book thinking it would be a horror story, so I was expecting to be scared. What I got form this book was quite different. It's not clear whether the ghosts exists or they're just in the governess' mind. Something that made this book difficult for me to get through was James' writing style. Often the sentences were rather long and complex, and he used 10 words were maybe 2 or 3 would do. That being said, it was an interesting book and I'm thinking it's one that would be better after reading it a second time. If you're looking for a book that presents a puzzle that you can think about long after you've finished it, give this one a go. Just don't expect it to be scary.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2006

    Masterpieces

    Henry James is, without a doubt, one of the best storytellers of all time. Highly sophisticated, his complex themes are set in precise language that brings out the strong psychological interplay of the plot. After reading The Beast in the Jungle I could not stop thinking about it. If you like complicated, thought-provoking writing, this is for you.

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