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on 23 December 2016
Arguably Henry James' masterpiece of modernist literature, as much about writing and language and the difficulty of interpretation as about ghosts and vengeance, the turn of the screw refuses to be fixed down to any interpretation, it can just as easily be seen through the Freudian literary theory as it can be through Marxist theory. As James once said the point of the turn of the screw was to 'catch those not easily caught' and he does than masterfully in this modernist text.
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on 19 April 2015
Wonderful piece of creepy psychological horror. I'm a firm believer that the 'haunting' is in the mind of the governess but maybe her psychosis actually produces the apparitions? Read it and make up your own mind! Whichever or whatever it is the poor children are the victims of adults projecting their sickness onto them, something which we often do particularly when the children are attractive. Think about it!
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on 25 June 2016
Probably James' best known work in that it has had a lot of attention through the original black and white film version from the 50's/60's...(?). This was a great and very faithful representation of the original work. However, the more recent televised version, while being reasonably entertaining in it's own way. did not. All the more reason to go back to the original text to see the way the author intended it. Unfortunately film producers do tend to get carried away with their own fanciful ideas and "free" interpretations which can be very wide off the mark....! Never more so than the West End production I once saw of Christopher Marlow's "Dr Faustus" where the producer had kindly rewritten the text for him...
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on 4 January 2015
I'm not averse to 19th Century ghost stories. I've enjoyed all the wonderful M R James stories and a fair few by Sheriden le Fanu. But this is dreadful. I decided to give it a go after seeing the excellent film The Innocents, 1960, an old B&W classic with Deborah Kerr, and did I regret it!

The plot's simple: governess in charge of two seemingly angelic children starts to see the ghost of her predecessor and a strange and sinister man. She comes to believe these ghosts are corrupting the children and that the children themselves are complicit in this. Such a slight tale depends on the author creating the type of creepy, spooky atmosphere at which both M R James and le Fanu (not to mention Susan Hill) excel. Unfortunately the style of writing is so twisted, convoluted and downright tortuous it fails dismally in creating any such atmosphere.

The sudden, unexpected and unsatisfactory ending would have really irked me had I not been just glad to have got to the end of the whole thing.
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on 24 October 2014
I know Henry James is a great writer but I just can't get on with his style. Long sentences (one I counted contained 63 words) which left me not understanding what it precisely said. I accept it is my failure not his but....
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on 6 July 2014
I remember trying to read this once before and giving up, so this time I stuck it out until the end. I've got to say, though, I didn't really enjoy the story all that much. It was just too ambiguous for me - I couldn't work out whether the ghosts were real or it was just the case that the governess had lost the plot. (I couldn't blame her if she had - I lost the plot on a number of occasions whilst reading this - I just couldn't tell what was going on). Similarly, the housekeeper's response to the governess, although I felt this became clearer towards the end of the novel, I was still doubting myself and the correctness of my interpretations right to the end. What I did love about this book was the wonderful evocation of Bly, the country house. I also thought there was some wonderful writing in this short novella which made it worth sticking with. I loved the line describing how the occupants of Bly are "...almost as lost as a handful of passengers in a great drifting ship. Well, I was, strangely, at the helm!" (p. 12) Who hasn't felt like that when situations seem to slip from one's control? I wasn't keen on this edition - the excessive use of capitalisation to emphasise words got on my nerves (although that may have been a character trait of the odd governess and may feature in other editions too). Not sure about this one.
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on 13 January 2016
This is of course, one of the classic ghost stories, and this Kindle edition is relatively error free and well formatted. If you have only seen one of the many dramatizations that have been made over the years for film and TV, then you owe it to yourself to read the original. There's no substitute.
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on 30 May 2014
I saw the tv version and thought I should read it! It held your interest and kept you reading but I don't know if I thought the ending was a bit odd - I have read other reviews saying you get more out of it the more times you read it, but you should be able to read something once and come away with an understanding of what happened or some satisfaction. There is a large element of mystery and you are left to decide what is going on. That's ok if you like that sort of novel but I prefer it to be a bit clearer!
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on 13 May 2015
Not a bad story - but I had to stop reading about 1/3 of the way through. I'm afraid that for me, the writing style makes it virtually unreadable. The sentences are overly long, with indeterminable amounts of commas and semi-colons. I found that by the time I got to the end of a particular sentence, I had forgotton what the start of it was about. I'm not against challenging or dense prose, but I find Mr James' style here a bit show-offy. To me he's saying "Look at me, I can write really long and intricate sentences". Give me Charles Bukowski any day.
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on 23 July 2014
Bit dated & very much 'of its time', not many chills for a modern reader, who doesn't have the same values, especially around the mythology, rather Victorian, of the unsullied purity & sacred innocence of 'sweet little angelic' children...It comes as less of a shock to the modern reader that the little dears have been corrupted etc etc...
However, as a classic 'ghost story' of this period, & a classic bit of Henry James ( who is a bit verbose & tiresome at times, anyway) it's definitely worth an afternoon of your time, especially as it's free...
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