Monday, January 31, 2011

A Creepy Classic Review: The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

This month’s Creepy Classic is The Turn of the Screw by Henry James.  When I first began reading this, I have to admit; I was humming and yawning, trying terribly hard to understand where it was going.  The style of the narrator was a bit maddening with the young governess’s constant internal ramblings.  This can be exhausting to read.  Nevertheless, it still is a classic and thankfully when the apparitions entered the story, it got deliciously better.

The governess is new to the estate, hired to manage/educate her two new charges, Flora and Miles.  Things progress merrily, until she comes across – what she believes – are evil spirits, ghosts if you will.  The first time she sees Quint, she has an overwhelming urge to protect the children, who are obviously being haunted by the ghosts.  The book wasn’t terrifying, but it was definitely creepy.  As the story unfolded, I had more questions than answers.  The children, for example, were the ghosts drawn to them because they were so bad?  And with the governess’s incessant internal chattering, I finally understood her behavior was in part due to her concern for the children.  Then again, who would blame her for going loony when she’s stranded on a country estate, subjected to teaching to a couple of weird brats?

Before reading this novella, I read a ton of speculation on this tale.  Debates such as: What is the true meaning of The Turn of the Screw?  Was it really a story about ghosts or was it a story about a repressed woman slowly going mad?  The debates are steadfast and ever changing with this story.  Which is kind of funny when you think about it… because Henry James’s novel hasn’t changed one iota.  For all its speculation – whether you like it or not - The Turn of the Screw is still timeless and without a doubt still a creepy classic.

I’ll have to rate this one a 3.5.  It wasn’t my favorite, but it’s still a good classical read.

Until next time…looking for something to read, try a Creepy Classic.

Mina B.


carla said...

I have never read Turn of the Screw. Maybe I should get around and give it a try.
I see there is an mp3 version on Wilbor (library online) but there's a wait list. They must've read your review! Looks like they have 3 other books by Henry James.

Mina Burrows said...

Hey Carla. Get on that waiting list. It won't take too long, and its a quick read too. :0)