The Turn of the Screw and The Aspern Papers by Henry James Download (read online) free eBook .pdf.epub.kindle

The Turn of the Screw and The Aspern Papers

‘The apparition had reached the landing half-way up and was therefore on the spot nearest the window, where, at the sight of me, it stopped short’

Oscar Wilde called James’s chilling The Turn of the Screw ‘a most wonderful, lurid poisonous little tale.’ It tells of a young governess sent to a country house to take charge of two orphans, Miles and Flora. Unsettled by a sense

Oscar Wilde called James’s chilling The Turn of the Screw ‘a most wonderful, lurid poisonous little tale.’ It tells of a young governess sent to a country house to take charge of two orphans, Miles and Flora. Unsettled by a sense of intense evil within the house, she soon becomes obsessed with the belief that malevolent forces are stalking the children in her care. Obsession of a more worldly variety lies at the heart of The Aspern Papers, the tale of a literary historian determined to get his hands on some letters written by a great poet-and prepared to use trickery and deception to achieve his aims. Both works show James’s mastery of the short story and his genius for creating haunting atmosphere and unbearable tension.

Anthony Curtis’s wide-ranging introduction traces the development of the two stories from initial inspiration to finished work and examines their critical reception.
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    William1

    Mar 24, 2011

    rated it
    really liked it

    Shelves:
    fiction,
    19-ce,
    uk

    “A Turn of the Screw” is fabulous. I wish all his works, especially his later ones, were as ecstatically readable.

    Lobstergirl

    Dec 09, 2016

    rated it
    really liked it

    Recommends it for:
    bandolier designers
    Shelves:
    own,
    fiction


    Please note, four stars does not mean I approve of dialogue like this:*

    “So she went to -“

    “To?”

    She hung fire. “To the gentleman’s residence.”

    “The gentleman’s residence?”

    “Yes, you know, in case of -“

    “Oh, yes, well…”

    She hung fire. “He wasn’t exactly a gentleman.”

    “Wasn’t a gentleman?”

    “No, and it caused problems later -“

    “Later? If only it had been sooner.”

    “Sooner?”

    They hung fire.

    “Everything depended on when she went -“

    “When she went? Why? Because of -“

    “Yes.” He hung fire. “Or -“

    “Or?”

    “Well – you cou

    “So she went to -“

    “To?”

    She hung fire. “To the gentleman’s residence.”

    “The gentleman’s residence?”

    “Yes, you know, in case of -“

    “Oh, yes, well…”

    She hung fire. “He wasn’t exactly a gentleman.”

    “Wasn’t a gentleman?”

    “No, and it caused problems later -“

    “Later? If only it had been sooner.”

    “Sooner?”

    They hung fire.

    “Everything depended on when she went -“

    “When she went? Why? Because of -“

    “Yes.” He hung fire. “Or -“

    “Or?”

    “Well – you could say that it prevented -“

    “Oh, of course. It prevented.” She hung fire.

    He hung fire.

    They hung. Fire. “And then of course the child -“

    He gasped. “The child? What of it?”

    “It was thought that -“

    “Who thought it?”

    “It. It thought it.”

    “What? It? Why, oh -” one of them gasped, no one was sure which one.

    * Not actual Henry James dialogue, except for the “hung fire” bits.
    …more

    Roy Lotz

    Feb 27, 2014

    rated it
    really liked it

    For the second time, I have had the misfortune of choosing to reading Henry James alongside another difficult author. The first time it was Proust; this time, Joyce. So, instead of getting the desired relief from literary headache, I get an extension of it. But, of course, the fault is mine, not Henry’s.

    When reading Henry James’s work, I am reminded of a remark Stephen King made about Stanley Kubrick: that “he thinks too much and feels too little.” One gets the impression that, as Henry wrote, h

    When reading Henry James’s work, I am reminded of a remark Stephen King made about Stanley Kubrick: that “he thinks too much and feels too little.” One gets the impression that, as Henry wrote, he did not vicariously experience the feelings and perspectives of his characters; instead he manipulates them at a far distance in the service of his aesthetic goal. This makes reading his work a peculiarly cerebral experience. Instead of identifying with James’s protagonists, the reader gazes upon them from far-away—like watching pedestrians from a tall building.

    Maddening, frustrating, and exasperating as he writing-style is, I am always impressed by the end of it. James has mastered the art of using the structure of language to mirror the structure of his plots. Instead of merely relaying information, James’s sentences show the reader what is going on in their very composition. As the protagonist tries and fails to guess at a mystery, the sentences try and fail to reach their objects—like a snake coiling around itself. Annoying as this sometimes is to read, I am so amazed by the end that I can give James nothing but kudos.

    The Turn of the Screw is famous for its use of ambiguity. Is the governess crazy? Or are there really ghosts? Or do the ghosts make her crazy? Or does her craziness somehow reify the ghosts? I’ve heard it argued, and with good reason, that this ambiguity is what makes the story so endlessly intriguing—the implication being that those who try to definitely answer the story’s riddle are doing it a disservice. But what’s the point of a riddle you don’t try to answer? In fact, if you don’t try to answer it, is it even a riddle? So, in the spirit of literary puzzles, here’s my attempt.

    I am for the mad governess theory. One obstacle to this is that she was able to describe people she never met with enough precision that the housekeeper immediately recognized them. However, it’s reasonable to suppose that she might have overheard or otherwise been told something about the two deceased former inhabitants. What’s more, her descriptions of the ghosts contain some odd features: she describes Quinn as wearing borrowed clothes, and knows that he isn’t a gentleman; and she describes Miss Jessel as “infamous.” Now, how could you tell any of those things merely by looking at someone? Her descriptions contain more information than could be plausibly gathered through a glance, which is why I think she was parroting something she’d been told.

    Another obvious clue is that nobody else can see these ghosts. But what’s even more compelling is how creepily fond the governess is of the children. Her feelings towards them are unhealthy in the extreme. She idolizes them, and then comes to distrust and suspect them in their every action. Her ‘ghosts’ could then be a kind of manifestation of her extraordinary possessiveness. She fears so keenly that somebody or something would take her away from these children she so adores that her mind produces villains who aim to do just that. Her feelings are similar to that of a hyper-jealous lover who sees signs of infidelity lurking in every shadow and hiding in every word.

    At this point, one is forced to think about how much the narrator may have omitted from her tale. For all we know, she may have mistreated—even abused—the children. This would explain why Flora comes to hate her so passionately. And it may also explain Miles’s death. I will admit, however, that Miles’s death is particularly hard to account for within the governess-is-mad theory. Did she poison him? Smother him in her arms? It seems a bit far-fetched, but certainly still possible.

    The Aspern Papers was less perplexing and more readable. The prose, less gnarled; the characters, more life-like. I suspect this is because it was written earlier in James’s career, when his own distinct style was yet imperfectly developed. That being said, it was certainly masterfully done. The main character, even though he is something of a scoundrel, is endearing because of his dorkiness. And the description of the pent-up women lingering in their large Venetian house is nearly Dickensian.

    So now, after finishing these two little gems, I am left wanting to read more of good ol’ Henry. He may indeed “think too much and feel too little,” but that’s only a flaw when you’re not as smart as he was.
    …more