The Turn of the Screw


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A chilling ghost story, wrought with tantalising ambiguity, Henry James's The Turn of the Screw is edited with an introduction and notes by David Bromwich in Penguin Classics. In what Henry James called a 'trap for the unwary', The Turn of the Screw tells of a nameless young governess sent to a country house to take charge of two orphans, Miles and Flora. Unsettled by a dark foreboding of menace within the house, she soon comes to believe that something malevolent is stalking the children in her care. But is the threat to ...

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Mar 26, 2008

A classic psychological thriller

Not your usual ghost story, this, written by Henry James, is a terrifying
journey into the unknown. A new governess comes to care for two young
children, Miles and Flora, and soon finds herself defending them
against possible possession by the spirits of their former governess
and the evil Quint, the former valet to the children's absentee father.
As the seeming possessions escalate, the new governess fights against
them with every ounce of her will. While the children insist that
nothing is amiss, the governess continues to become even more steadfast
in her determination to save the children from the demons trying to
possess them, insisting to the children that they own up to the
hauntings, to their cooperation with the spirits, and to the evil with
which they are being afflicted.

What makes this story so compelling is the study of the psychology of
the characters, particularly that of the governess. What makes the
story a "whodunnit" is the interplay between the ever more vigilant
governess, the children, and the spirits themselves. Are the ghosts
really there? Or is the new governess, in her terror and belief,
bringing her own brand of evil into the lives of two innocent children?
Who, indeed, is the possessor?

For anyone who loves a good ghost story, full of atmosphere and gloom,
or for those who love a good psychological character study, "Turn of
The Screw" remains one of the gems of either genre.

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