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The Turn of the Screw: Authoritative Text, Contexts, Criticism (Norton Critical Editions) Paperback – 2 Sep 1999

3.9 out of 5 stars 115 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 2nd Revised edition edition (2 Sept. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039395904X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393959048
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.8 x 21.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (115 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,709 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Much imitated ... but no one comes near the finesse of the master (The Times)

Timelessly unsettling (Guardian) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About 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.".

Jonathan Warren is an Assistant Professor of Latin American Studies at the University of Washington in Seattle.


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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 3 Dec. 1998
Format: Paperback
An excellent, short novel that probes the traditionally most important events of a woman's life -- her marriage opportunities. James portrays a woman who is as much the victim in society of her lack of beauty as she is of the two men in her life: a father who is at best negligent and often overtly cruel and a fortune-hunter who is breathtaking to behold but morally empty. James has the courage to demonstrate through Dr. Sloper's character (the father) the hardness and even abusiveness with which men treated women who lacked beauty or great wit. And he added a swain who pretended to treat the heroine in a finer manner, but who was merely after her money. Catherine Sloper learns her lessons slowly but seemingly well. Written beautifully, James has a small masterpiece of social commentary here, with a fair and objective presentation of one woman's life. Delightful to read, but sad that the heroine must cease to search for happiness merely because men have taught her not to trust their protestations of love.
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By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on 23 Jan. 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
One of the most seductive of all ghost stories, Turn of the Screw is not a tale for people inured to Halloween I and II or Tales from the Crypt. It is a sophisticated and subtle literary exercise in which the author creates a dense, suggestive, and highly ambiguous story, its suspense and horror generated primarily by what the author does NOT say and does not describe. Compelled to fill in the blanks from his/her own store of personal fears, the reader ultimately conjures up a more horrifying set of images and circumstances than anything an author could impose from without.
Written in 1898, this is superficially the tale of a governess who accepts the job of teaching two beautiful, young children whose uncle-guardian wants nothing to do with them. On a symbolic level, however, it is a study of the mores and prejudices of the times and, ultimately, of the nature of Evil. The governess fears that ghosts of the former governess Miss Jessel and her lover, valet Peter Quint, have corrupted the souls of little Flora and Miles and have won them to the side of Evil. The children deny any knowledge of ghosts, and, in fact, only the governess actually sees them. Were it not for the fact that the housekeeper, Mrs. Grose, can identify them from the governess's descriptions, one might be tempted to think that the governess is hallucinating.
Though the governess is certainly neurotic and repressed, this novel was published ten years before Freud, suggesting that the story should be taken at face value, as a suspenseful but enigmatic Victorian version of a Faustian struggle for the souls of these children. The ending, which comes as a shock to the reader, is a sign that such struggles should never be underestimated. As is always the case with James, the formal syntax, complex sentence structure, and elaborately constructed narrative are a pleasure to read for anyone who loves language, formality, and intricate psychological labyrinths. Mary whipple
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By Roman Clodia TOP 500 REVIEWER on 27 Jun. 2008
Format: Paperback
Unlike some of the other reviewers here I still think this is the creepiest book I've ever read, and all the more terrifying for the fact that James never articulates what's going on - he simply leaves your imagination to float free and conjure up all your worse nightmares. Yes, he's never an easy read (though this is far more accessible than Wings of the Dove, The Golden Bowl etc) but I think his very stately, mannered sentences and diction actually add to the horror of the story. Don't read this if you're expecting Stephen King or The Exorcist - James expects his readers to make the effort to read properly. Someone called this (possibly James himself?)'the most poisonous little tale I could imagine' and I think that's a perfect description - when I re-read it, it was on the tube with bright lights and lots of people around as I couldn't face reading it at home alone!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
‘TTOTS’ is a classic chilling tale from Henry James. It would not be fair to describe it as horror, because there is no gore, or as a ghost story, because it is far subtler than that. The story concerns a nanny looking after the children of a rich widower with whom she has fallen in love. Her desire to protect the children is tested when she begins to see two nefarious (and long-dead) former employees of the house, apparently threatening her charges. As the nanny’s sanity is called into question, we begin to wonder who represents the real danger in the house.
‘TTOTS’ is an excellent example of ambiguous writing. Even at the shocking conclusion, it is not clear if we have just read a ghost story or an example of psychological fiction. It is difficult to say too much without giving too much away about the story, but every event, or encounter with the ghostly figures, has two interpretations. It is very cleverly written, and all the more spooky because of it.
Having said all that, I am not a fan of James’ writing style. The only other book of his that I have read (‘The Ambassadors’) has tortuously constructed sentences that are painful to read. This is also true of ‘TTOTS’. Fortunately, the story of the title is easily gripping enough for this not to be a problem, but the rest of this collection is instantly forgettable because of it. Nevertheless, it is well-worth a read as one of the greatest spooky stories ever told.
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