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The Turn of the Screw and The Aspern Papers Paperback – 1 Jan 2009

3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Digireads.com (1 Jan. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1420932055
  • ISBN-13: 978-1420932058
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 0.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,081,107 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Henry James was born the son of a religious philosopher in New York City in 1843. His famous works include The Portrait of a Lady, Washington Square, Daisy Miller, and The Turn of the Screw. He died in London in 1916, and is buried in the family plot in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Was looking forward to reading this book, but found that Henry James style of writing was hard going. Had go back to re-read chapters because he appears to use 12 words, where 3 would have been sufficient.
Discarded the book and purchased the DVD.
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Format: Paperback
Most of the other reviews on this site seem to relate to a more modern Penguin edition, which combines "The Turn of the Screw" with another novella, "The Aspern Papers", but I have the older edition in which it is combined with two short stories, "The Pupil" and "The Third Person". Those stories appear to have been selected because of their thematic links with "The Turn of the Screw". "The Third Person" is another ghost story, although in this case a comic one in which two spinster cousins who inherit an old house discover that it is haunted by the spirit of an ancestor who was hanged for smuggling. (The house may be based upon Henry James's own home, Lamb House in Rye).

"The Pupil" is not a tale of the supernatural, but was included because it has certain similarities with "The Turn of the Screw", including a similar ending. It is the story of Pemberton, a young Englishman who is appointed tutor to the son of an American family. The boy's parents are Americans of a type familiar in James's fiction; they are fascinated by European culture, and even more by European high society, and spend all their time travelling around Europe in a vain attempt to break into that society. Although the family are financially embarrassed, and rarely have enough money to pay Pemberton his wages, he remains with them, largely because of his fondness for his teenage pupil. (James, himself a repressed homosexual, may be hinting at a sexual attraction between them, although the moral code of the 1890s meant that he could never do more than hint about such matters).

"The Turn of the Screw" is the longest and by far the best-known of the three stories. It is ostensibly at least, a ghost story.
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By A Customer on 23 Mar. 2001
Format: Paperback
Henry James shows himself as the great master of American short fiction (alongside with Hawthorne and Poe). "The Turn of the Screw" is a moving and frightening tale about childhood and its dark side. James makes us aware that childhood is not always that Paradise we have been told. Read in a lonely night will increase your feelings of terror and... "The Aspern Paper" or what would you do to get what you most desire? Editors certainly are people authors, those surrounding authors, should be prevented against. Join a ravishing editor, the lover of a late writer and her simple niece, and you will have another superb example of the narrative possibilities of any topic when written by a great author.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa2224558) out of 5 stars 10 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa326bf18) out of 5 stars A Suspensful Read 21 Aug. 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is an early examination of a deterioration of the human psyche. It's a dark psychological thriller told by a woman who finds herself scattered by fleeting emotions and unseen torments. From the start, the protagonist's mind seems to flow in several different directions, showing the portrait of a very insecure woman. I think that the purpose of the lengthy language is to serve as her very personal outlook on the situation, on herself. Henry has put himself fully in her position to achieve the purpose of forcing the reader to do so as well.
I tend to dislike films or books that depict mental illness as an organized or curable disorder. Something that can be easily fixed by medical advances or hope alone. The truth of the matter is much more dark. Insanity is not something to romanticize about, although there is certainly speculation of mental illness furthering artistic insight. (an example would be Virginia Wolff, or Vincent van Gogh) But Henry James does not view the woman's hallucinations with hope for her recovery.
The author has always shown particular interest in insanity, not from the vantage point of an onlooker or professional...but from the direct and unaltered view of the person suffering the hallucinations.
There actually are ghosts in this book, but the kind that are much more sinister and real in that they only exist to this one woman. She's alone in her hallucinations, completely unable to share the nightmare that has taken over her mind, left to bare it by herself. I think that's truly more frightening than the thin plot of any other 'ghost' story.
I recommend this book for several reasons; it has an intriguing plot, is an exploration of psychological aspects, and ends with a suspenseful finale.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa1ef3288) out of 5 stars Two of James's Best 10 Jun. 2000
By Jim McKenna - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
These are two of James's most haunting stories. It is amazing how he uses his mastery of narrative technique to unsettle the reader. It is never clear in the "Turn of the Screw" whether the ghosts actually exist or whether the narrator herself is deluded. Similarly, in "The Aspern Papers" the narrator seems to be eminently reasonable and civilized, but his actions are anything but. This story, in its quiet, "boring" fashion, throws a very disturbing light on literary biographers. In fact, this is one of James's trademarks, the ability to probe the dark side of refined, genteel people.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa2086f30) out of 5 stars A great introduction to James 23 Sept. 2003
By Bill R. Moore - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Henry James is one of the most celebrated, and infamous, authors in the whole of literature -- worshipped by critics and literary scholars, but often befuddling to the general reader. This wonderful omnibus collects four of his works: the short novels The Aspern Papers and The Turn of the Screw, which are often bundled together, and two short stories: The Beast In the Jungle and The Jolly Corner. The two short novels are quintessential James -- ambiguous yet somehow suspenseful narratives, wordy and fascinating psychologically-descriptive prose, and open to interpretation. Each are simple stories on the surface; but the dedicated reader, if he or she delves deeply into the texts, will be rewarded with some of the most subtly-satisfying short works ever pinned. The Turn of the Screw is, perhaps, the greatest ghost story ever written, a superb psychological drama which yields many treasures to the Freudian literary sleuth (as, indeed, do all four stories.) For more detailed analyses of these two stories, one may refer to my reviews of them in separate editions. Suffice it to say here that, if one is interested in reading these two stories, this volume is the place to do so, because it also contains...
The two short stories. As short as these two works are, they both yield a myriad treasures to the dedicated reader. They are two superb psychological dramas, finely crafted. The Beast In the Jungle, in particular, is, in many ways, epitomizes James. He takes a very simple, almost clichéd premise and transforms it into something uniquely his own. His prose is very wordy, but not flowery: it functions to convey the depth of emotion felt by the protagonist and also manages to plumb the depths of his mind. These two short works are great reads for the James fan, and the introduction to the book manages to tie them in to the longer works in this volume.
Anyone who has decided to take the plunge into the James canon would do well to start here. In addition to this volume's containing the four aforementioned works, it must also be stated that the Barnes & Noble Classics editions are extremely nice. In addition to usually containing multiple works, which mostly cannot be found together anywhere else, they also boast a variety of supplementary materials which simply cannot be found anywhere else: a nice, substantial introduction addressing all of the works contained within, adequate but not overbearing notes, a sampling of critical and popular opinion on the works, and even a list of questions for discussion and a page with quotes from the book. On top of all this, they are extremely affordable. Very highly recommended.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa276ee94) out of 5 stars The Art of Fiction 5 Oct. 2001
By Doug Anderson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Well these are my two favorite works by Henry James. In both James displays his very neatly honed talents for creating fine fictional universes and architecturally perfect stories where all seems to be just right but of course it isn't. James is writing in the still young American tradition of letters but he has cleared away much of the romanticism that was so evident in Hawthorne and Melville. The romanticism still exists but it is not in the writers brain, it exists in the characters alone. James was the first to really write at a remove from his characters. He tells each tale with no authorial comment to sway your opinion of his characters one way or another, he lets the reader make his own observations and draw his own conclusions based on the characters behaviour and thoughts. That authorial distance allows him to simply relate the story, not explain it, and James stories are each as intricate as the psychologies that occupy them. In these two stories he creates very intriguing and complex situations. Both are mysteries and both perhaps have no easy solution or resolution because James lets the complex minds and psychologies of his characters subjectively grapple with a web that they have themselves woven and any resolution would mean an unraveling of their entire character. These are story long webs which can be baffling(Aspern Papers) or terrifying(Turn of the Screw), the psychological webs these characters weave can lead them to frightening extremes(Turn of the Screw) or can serve as a necessary support for the fragile psyche that created them(Aspern Papers). The real thrill of reading James is in how controlled a manner all is told. There are no obvious clues just psychological gradations and patterns which begin adding up to an overall impression. It can seem after finishing one of his stories that nothing much has happened at all, and yet a psychology has all the while been examined and quite thoroughly. Through his stories much is revealed about what lies just beneath the facade of life and what motivates our most basic perceptions, our identity, and our societal or world view. It has been said that James brought the insight of a psycholgist to his stories. But his insights are much more profound than a mere clinicians notes. In James we get a highly discerned character in a highly discerned context and the discerning reader will be entertained and enlightened and inspired to contemplate the workings of ones own intricate structure.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa278b270) out of 5 stars A skilfully written exercise in creating an atmosphere of psychological terror 27 Feb. 2011
By J C E Hitchcock - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Most of the other reviews on this site seem to relate to a more modern Penguin edition, which combines "The Turn of the Screw" with another novella, "The Aspern Papers", but I have the older edition in which it is combined with two short stories, "The Pupil" and "The Third Person". Those stories appear to have been selected because of their thematic links with "The Turn of the Screw". "The Third Person" is another ghost story, although in this case a comic one in which two spinster cousins who inherit an old house discover that it is haunted by the spirit of an ancestor who was hanged for smuggling. (The house may be based upon Henry James's own home, Lamb House in Rye).

"The Pupil" is not a tale of the supernatural, but was included because it has certain similarities with "The Turn of the Screw", including a similar ending. It is the story of Pemberton, a young Englishman who is appointed tutor to the son of an American family. The boy's parents are Americans of a type familiar in James's fiction; they are fascinated by European culture, and even more by European high society, and spend all their time travelling around Europe in a vain attempt to break into that society. Although the family are financially embarrassed, and rarely have enough money to pay Pemberton his wages, he remains with them, largely because of his fondness for his teenage pupil. (James, himself a repressed homosexual, may be hinting at a sexual attraction between them, although the moral code of the 1890s meant that he could never do more than hint about such matters).

"The Turn of the Screw" is the longest and by far the best-known of the three stories. It is ostensibly at least, a ghost story. Like a number of other nineteenth-century authors writing about the supernatural, James uses a device known by the German title "Rahmentechnik", or "framework technique"; a well-known German example is Theodor Storm's novella "Der Schimmelreiter" ("The Rider on the White Horse"), written ten years before James's story. The purpose of the device is to distance the author from his narrative by making it seem like something he once heard about, or something that happened to an acquaintance, rather than something which happened to him in person. James, in fact, here uses a double framework; the narrator listens to his friend Douglas reading a manuscript written by an unnamed female acquaintance, who is now dead.

In her youth this woman worked as a governess for a wealthy gentleman who had become responsible for his orphaned nephew and niece. She travels to her employer's country home in Essex whereas he remains in London; he takes little interest in the children and in fact explicitly warns her not to bother him with any communications. Despite the eccentricity of her employer, the young woman is initially delighted by her work and adores her two young charges, Miles and Flora. Two things, however, disturb her happiness. The first is the mystery surrounding Miles who has been expelled from his boarding school for reasons which are never made clear. The second is that the governess begins to see the figures of a man and woman whom she believes to be the ghosts of her predecessor, Miss Jessel and of Peter Quint, one of the servants, both of whom died not long before her arrival at the house.

Although "The Turn of the Screw" is a ghost story, it is very different to the sort of ghost stories written by Henry James's younger contemporary and unrelated namesake M.R. James. Although M.R. never explicitly stated whether he believed in ghosts himself, his stories are based on the assumption that the supernatural is real and that ghosts do exist; the sceptical reader needs to suspend his or her scepticism in order to enter into his fictional world. With "The Turn of the Screw" no such suspension is necessary. The story is famously ambiguous as to whether the supposed ghosts are real or a mere figment of the governess's overwrought imagination; this is a point over which critics have argued for decades. (Edmund Wilson is said to have changed his mind twice). The use of first-person narration and the "framework technique" increases this sense of ambiguity; even if we accept the original narrator (who is not necessarily to be identified with James himself) as infallible, he is not speaking of his own personal experiences but only of something which allegedly happened to the friend of a friend. M.R. James occasionally used a "frame" in his stories- an example is "The Mezzotint", coincidentally also set in Essex- but does not distance himself from his narratives in the same way.

Although its supernatural element may be imaginary, the story nevertheless falls within the "Gothic" tradition of English horror writing. The central character's profession calls to mind Charlotte Bronte's "Jane Eyre", another Gothic tale which features the most famous governess in English literature. Certainly, James's young governess herself is in no doubt as to the horrid reality of the "ghosts"; she is terrified of them, not on her own account but on account of the children to whom she believes the ghosts pose some terrible danger, a danger that may lie as much in their power to corrupt the children's innocence as in their power to do them physical harm. The governess discovers that her predecessor and Quint were lovers- something which would have been far more shocking in late Victorian England than it would be today, and there is a hint that she fears that they may also have molested the children sexually. Of course, if one takes the view that the ghosts are purely imaginary, it may be that the real danger to the children comes from their deluded and hysterical governess. Whatever view one takes of the ghosts, however, "The Turn of the Screw" is a skilfully written exercise in creating an atmosphere of psychological terror.
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