Sunday, April 14, 2013

Introduction to Henry James

The Turn of the Screw is a novella published in 1898 by Henry James, and is considered to be a kind of old-world, old-fashioned, even gothic, ghost story.  A young governess watches over two cherubic children, Miles and Flora, at the Bly Estate, in the countryside.  Along with Mrs. Grose, the estate housekeeper, the two women must care for the children without involving their uncle who has expressly asked to not be involved in the children's lives.  What starts out as an idyllic story with two children who couldn't be easier to care for, quickly turns into a subtly sinister tale of supernatural occurrences and strange relationships.  The ghosts of Peter Quint and Miss Jessel seem to haunt the house and to specifically seek out the children, who are aware of their presence.  Things quickly unravel and end on a disturbing note.  While I enjoyed this introduction to Henry James, the writing is somewhat dense and the plot moves rather slowly, though I do love an old-fashioned tale.  Thus, I was left with mixed feelings about James.  Perhaps I will read another novella to get a better sense of his breadth. 

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