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The Turn of the Screw and Other Stories: "The Romance of Certain Old Clothes", "The Friends of the Friends", " The Jolly Corner" (Vintage Classics)

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A young governess is sent to a great country house to care for two orphaned children. To begin with Flora and Miles seem to be model pupils but gradually the governess starts to suspect that something is very wrong with them. As she sets out to uncover the corrupt secrets of the house she becomes more and more convinced that something evil is watching her.


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A young governess is sent to a great country house to care for two orphaned children. To begin with Flora and Miles seem to be model pupils but gradually the governess starts to suspect that something is very wrong with them. As she sets out to uncover the corrupt secrets of the house she becomes more and more convinced that something evil is watching her.

30 review for The Turn of the Screw and Other Stories: "The Romance of Certain Old Clothes", "The Friends of the Friends", " The Jolly Corner" (Vintage Classics)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rosie

    I would not, having perused this book at leisure, for an indeterminate period of time, after it was recommended, indeed, after I was encouraged to make it my mission to enjoy it, and found it wanting, read this book again. If you enjoyed reading that sentence then you will enjoy this book. If not, then don't even bother. I am not faint-hearted when it comes to reading different types of writing, but seriously, 'The Turn of the Screw' was horrendously hard to follow, with hugely long sentences and I would not, having perused this book at leisure, for an indeterminate period of time, after it was recommended, indeed, after I was encouraged to make it my mission to enjoy it, and found it wanting, read this book again. If you enjoyed reading that sentence then you will enjoy this book. If not, then don't even bother. I am not faint-hearted when it comes to reading different types of writing, but seriously, 'The Turn of the Screw' was horrendously hard to follow, with hugely long sentences and constant exclamations like 'I speak of him of course', which leave the reader with NO idea of whom the characters are speaking. I came to this novel expecting a ghost story and left it with just a feeling of confusion. (view spoiler)[ In all honesty, I would never have picked up on the fact that the governess is possibly going mad had I not already been aware of that element before I started, since the whole thing was so difficult to follow. (hide spoiler)] I think this is more worth reading as a study in language and writing than as an a story.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Roel ✿

    I would rate The Real Thing ☆☆☆ (interesting exploration of art, class and identity), but The Figure in the Carpet and the other short stories were not worth my time. I skimmed through them out of boredom. They were not engaging enough to keep my attention. The Turn of the Screw is another ☆☆☆ story for me. I found the narrative tense and the setting haunting. If it was meant to be an exploration of female hysteria, it was well done; if its main theme was lack of direct communication and how that I would rate The Real Thing ☆☆☆ (interesting exploration of art, class and identity), but The Figure in the Carpet and the other short stories were not worth my time. I skimmed through them out of boredom. They were not engaging enough to keep my attention. The Turn of the Screw is another ☆☆☆ story for me. I found the narrative tense and the setting haunting. If it was meant to be an exploration of female hysteria, it was well done; if its main theme was lack of direct communication and how that leads to the reinforcement of taboo subjects, James got that point across. It is still unclear to me where the protagonist's drive came from, and why she did not flee, and I found most of the dialogue extremely frustrating because of how confusing it was, but it was overall well worth the read.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I'll be honest - I found this a really hard, slow slog to read. James's prose is very convoluted by modern standards, with long compound sentences and archaic usage (the book was first published in 1898). I'm giving it three stars, rather than two, because of the significant influence it has been on subsequent "ghost story" literature, including favourites of mine such as The Woman in Black by Susan Hill and more recently The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware. James does maintain a palpable tension t I'll be honest - I found this a really hard, slow slog to read. James's prose is very convoluted by modern standards, with long compound sentences and archaic usage (the book was first published in 1898). I'm giving it three stars, rather than two, because of the significant influence it has been on subsequent "ghost story" literature, including favourites of mine such as The Woman in Black by Susan Hill and more recently The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware. James does maintain a palpable tension throughout, together with an uncertainty in the reader as to whether the apparitions are real or simply some sort of protracted hysterical hallucination on the part of the governess.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rowland Pasaribu

    The Turn of the Screw was originally published as a serialized novel in Collier's Weekly. Robert J. Collier, whose father had founded the magazine, had just become editor. At the time, James was already a well-known author, having already published The Europeans, Daisy Miller, Washington Square, and The Bostonians. Collier was hoping to increase his magazine's circulation and revenue and to improve its reputation by publishing the works of a serious, well-known author like James. James himself h The Turn of the Screw was originally published as a serialized novel in Collier's Weekly. Robert J. Collier, whose father had founded the magazine, had just become editor. At the time, James was already a well-known author, having already published The Europeans, Daisy Miller, Washington Square, and The Bostonians. Collier was hoping to increase his magazine's circulation and revenue and to improve its reputation by publishing the works of a serious, well-known author like James. James himself had just signed a long-term lease on a house in Sussex and needed the extra income to facilitate moving from his residence in London. Thus, James agreed to Collier's proposal that he write a twelve-part ghost story in 1897. James finished The Turn of the Screw in November 1897, and the story was published in Collier's between January and April of 1898. The text of the story consisted of a prologue and twelve chapters in both the serialized publication and later book versions. In Collier's, the story was further divided into five "parts" and published in twelve installments. James's agreement to publish his story in Collier's was done with the understanding that he would publish a book version as well. Heinemann in England and Macmillan in New York both published book versions of The Turn of the Screw, the text identical except that they lacked the five "parts" markings, in the fall of 1898. In 1908, James published his complete works in what is now known as "The New York Edition." The Turn of the Screw appeared in Volume 16, along with another novella, The Aspern Papers, and two short stories, "The Liar" and "The Two Faces." The Turn of the Screw is a novella, which means that it is long story, shorter than a traditional novel but focusing on actions of greater scope than the short story. In James's 1908 publication of The Turn of the Screw, he made a very few emendations to his text - most of which are minor semantic and punctuation changes. One noteworthy thing that James changed in this edition is Flora's age. In the 1898 publication, Flora is six-years-old; in 1908, she becomes eight. This may simply have resulted from James's realization, after the first publication, that Flora speaks and acts as if she is older than six. James wrote The Turn of the Screw at a time during which belief in ghosts and spirituality was very prevalent in England and America. The spirituality craze had begun in 1848 when the two young Fox sisters in New York heard unexplained rappings in their bedroom. They were able to ask questions and receive answers in raps from what they - and the many people who became aware of their case - believed was a dead person. That same year, a book about the "science" of ghosts, The Night Side of Nature; or, Ghosts and Ghost Seers, by Catherine Crowe was published and became very popular. The Society for Psychical Research, of which James's brother and father were members, was founded in 1882. It was an offshoot of the Cambridge Ghost Club, founded in 1851 at Trinity College at Cambridge University - where the prologue's Douglas was a student. Reading The Turn of the Screw, it is important to remember that despite twentieth-century skepticism towards ghosts and the paranormal, many educated nineteenth-century readers did believe in ghosts and spirituality. On significant reason for the rise in spirituality's popularity in nineteenth-century is widespread disillusionment with traditional religion. Unable to believe in the all-powerful and benevolent Deity preached by the Christian church, many intellectuals of the day turned away from Christianity. James himself was acquainted with the Concord school of transcendentalists, including Ralph Waldo Emerson. Because of the loss of Christian faith, traditionally a comfort to those who had lost loved ones or who faced death themselves, many people searched for a new way of understanding and accepting death. Spirituality was not limited to the scholarly studies of William James; many of its adherents sought solace in the possibility of communicating with dead family members and loved ones at seances - in reassuring themselves that there was an Other Side. James, however, emphasizes in the Preface to his 1908 edition that Peter Quint and Miss Jessel are not ghosts as that term had come to be understood by the turn of the century. These ghosts, he says, now the subjects of laboratory study, cannot stir "the dear old sacred terror" as old-time ghost stories could. Modern ghosts make "poor subjects," and his ghosts, therefore, would be agents of evil - "goblins, elves, imps, demons as loosely constructed as those of the old trials for witchcraft." The content of James book comes from "real-life" ghostly encounters about which he had heard. In the preface, James speaks of being one of a group on a winter afternoon in an old country house - very much like the narrator of his prologue - when his host recalled the fragment of a tale told to him as a young man by a lady. She did not have the whole story but could only tell him that it dealt with "a couple of small children in an out-of-the-way place, to whom the spirits of certain Œbad' servants, dead in the employ of the house, were believed to have appeared with the design of Œgetting hold' of them." James said he remembered the story as a worthwhile subject to be built upon when the proposal from Collier's came. In addition to the ghost stories of which James himself wrote and spoke of being aware, a number of critics have proposed additional literary and real-life influences on the subject matter in The Turn of the Screw. These include works of nineteenth-century English fiction, including Dickens's Oliver Twist, Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, and Mrs. Gaskell's "The Old Nurse's Story," as well as other literature, including Henry Fielding's Amelia and Goethe's "Erlkönig." Other influences include a nineteenth-century medical text which discusses governesses, suggested by critic William J. Scheick, Freud's patient "Miss Lucy R.," suggested by Oscar Cargill, and a medical book about temporal lobe epilepsy, suggested by J. Purdon Martin. In his 1908 preface, James also speaks of complaints that his governess is not "sufficiently Œcharacterised.'" He argues that no good writing comes of tackling all difficulties but that good writing instead results from focusing on a limited number of elements - in his case, the ghosts and the implication of evil. It seems surprising, then, that so much of the criticism and discussion surrounding the book since its publication centered around the governess and her consciousness. Before James's time, most fiction was written from the author's point-of-view. S/he described the characters' actions and told the reader their significance and meaning. The fiction of Dickens and of the Brontës, for example, follows this model. James's contribution to fiction included his work on point-of-view. Many of James's works are characterized by a central intelligence - that is, a character through whose eyes the reader sees the story. The reader, therefore, responds not as an objective viewer but as a participant in the story. Reading The Turn of the Screw from the point-of-view of the governess, the reader has a limited knowledge and perception of the events occurring at Bly and must trust - perhaps to his or her peril - the judgment of the governess. Another significant aspect of James's novel is his use of the confidant character. The use of the confidant precedes far back into literature. In a novel in which we have limited access to the main character's mind - as we will until the establishment of stream-of-consciousness technique in the twentieth-century - the confidant character gives us an extra chance to see what the main character is thinking. Thus, we learn about the governess's thoughts and assumptions through her conversations with her confidant, Mrs. Grose. Here, as with point-of-view, James challenges the reader. We cannot be certain that the governess tells the truth to her confidant, nor can we be sure that Mrs. Grose does not have her own agenda in listening to the governess's thoughts. In the decades following the publication of The Turn of the Screw, it was generally accepted that the governess was a benevolent character, fighting against evil ghosts to protect Flora and Miles. In 1919, Henry Beers mentioned that he had always thought the governess to be mad but little thought was given to the comment. Swarthmore English professor Harold Goddard wrote an essay arguing the same point around 1920, but it was not published until his daughter found it after his death in 1957. The true originator of the theory, therefore, is Edna Kenton, who published an essay in 1924, suggesting the story is more about the governess's troubled mind than about the ghosts and children. However, Edmund Wilson's 1934 essay "The Ambiguity of Henry James" has been the most influential of all. Drawing heavily on Freudian theory, Wilson argues that the governess's sexual repression leads her to neurotically imagine and interpret the ghosts. In nearly all writing since Wilson's landmark essay, critics have been forced to decide whether the governess is mad or if there are ghosts. Those arguing for the ghosts emphasize that James, in his 1908 preface, called the book a "fairy-tale pure and simple" and that none of his other ghost stories are considered hallucinations. Feminist critics have recently picked up this thread, suggesting that the assumption the governess is a sexual hysteric, imagining the ghosts, would not have been made were the narrator a man. Such readings see the framing of the story by what is presumably - though not explicitly - a male narrator, and by the definitely male Douglas, who undercut the governess's authority but emphasizing his inexperience and youth as expressing distrust in the female narrator. More recently, postmodernism has led critics toward a less combatant approach toward The Turn of the Screw. Many critics have taken to accepting the ambiguity in James's writing and acknowledging that nearly every incident can be interpreted to prove the governess is mad and to prove that there are ghosts. In making this statement, critics draw attention away from this irresolvable controversy and towards the language James uses to create this much-read and much-interpreted text.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Cal

    I only made it half way through The Turn of the Screw before I gave up in frustration. I found myself rereading almost every sentence because the writing style is so fragmented. The story never finds a rhythm because it is constantly being interjected by awkwardly placed prose that is jammed in the middle of a sentence as if it was thought of after the sentence was started and ot was too late to go back and work it into the story.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Onewooga

    I have to say, you need patience to read Henry James. The man is a master of the clause and the prepositional phrase. If you are an English teacher forced to torture your students with diagramming sentences, James is your man. That being said, the stories are really quite subtle and sneakily brilliant. I kept thinking, OK, where is this going, Henry, and then we'd get there and I'd think: WOW. My favorites in this collection do not actually include "The Turn of the Screw," which was my original I have to say, you need patience to read Henry James. The man is a master of the clause and the prepositional phrase. If you are an English teacher forced to torture your students with diagramming sentences, James is your man. That being said, the stories are really quite subtle and sneakily brilliant. I kept thinking, OK, where is this going, Henry, and then we'd get there and I'd think: WOW. My favorites in this collection do not actually include "The Turn of the Screw," which was my original reason for reading it. That story is fun, but I find "The Beast in the Jungle" and "The Jolly Corner" to be my favorites--and in some ways they complement each other, with similar themes although different outcomes--and I also liked "The Tree of Knowledge." The prose here is much different than what you get with a more modern writer, but I can't help thinking none of us is capable, any more, of writing this way.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Campbell

    I found this interminable, though I admire the skill with which he walked the tightrope of ambiguity between mental illness and supernatural manifestation.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book was awful. Not scary, not exciting, barely readable, it's not often I tear into a book like this and I'm really not enjoying it, but this book is so dated and badly written that I just didn't care about the characters, the story, anything. Was she being haunted? Who on earth knows? Why did the kid just drop dead? Who on earth cares. This book was, in my opinion, pig shit. I am furious at being made to study it. I couldn't even read the three other stories in the collection. This book was awful. Not scary, not exciting, barely readable, it's not often I tear into a book like this and I'm really not enjoying it, but this book is so dated and badly written that I just didn't care about the characters, the story, anything. Was she being haunted? Who on earth knows? Why did the kid just drop dead? Who on earth cares. This book was, in my opinion, pig shit. I am furious at being made to study it. I couldn't even read the three other stories in the collection.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sana Abdulla

    Over the years I tried to read books by Henry James but had to give up, I just managed Washington Square. His books make excellent movies - my heartfelt sympathies to the scriptwriters - as his writing style is difficult and rambling and his characters never call a spade a spade. He embelishes his sentences to the point of making the reader either read over and over, or lose track of the storyline. This book left me wondering if he was a bad writer or he deliberately wants the reader to guess his Over the years I tried to read books by Henry James but had to give up, I just managed Washington Square. His books make excellent movies - my heartfelt sympathies to the scriptwriters - as his writing style is difficult and rambling and his characters never call a spade a spade. He embelishes his sentences to the point of making the reader either read over and over, or lose track of the storyline. This book left me wondering if he was a bad writer or he deliberately wants the reader to guess his intentions. The book contained 4 short stories, the second being the most straight forward. When it comes to Henry James I will stick to films. I strongly recommend watching Washington Square and the Wings of the dove. Leave his books at the bookshop to be picked up by innocent victims.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Roman Clodia

    Malevolence or hysteria? This short story bears multiple readings: it has terrified me in the past, but can also be seen as a narrative of female hysteria and twisted delusion. James takes the traditional English ghost story and modernises it so that the slippages in the governess's tale *are* the story. This is ambiguous, malevolent and a masterclass in tension and the macabre - wherever we locate the latter. This probably isn't for readers who want linear and straightforward story-telling but th Malevolence or hysteria? This short story bears multiple readings: it has terrified me in the past, but can also be seen as a narrative of female hysteria and twisted delusion. James takes the traditional English ghost story and modernises it so that the slippages in the governess's tale *are* the story. This is ambiguous, malevolent and a masterclass in tension and the macabre - wherever we locate the latter. This probably isn't for readers who want linear and straightforward story-telling but this remains one of the most accessible introductions to James' notoriously difficult prose style.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kathrina

    I'm kind of amazed that I read this in high school, and I'm wondering what I got out of it back then. I remember putting it on the "I like this one" list, but past that, I don't know. After a re-read, I still put it on that list, but I imagine I've put it there for very different reasons. I've struggled a long time with my relationship with Henry James; I very much appreciate him and admire him, but sometimes I do wish he'd just get to the point. He seems to do this much more gingerly in the thr I'm kind of amazed that I read this in high school, and I'm wondering what I got out of it back then. I remember putting it on the "I like this one" list, but past that, I don't know. After a re-read, I still put it on that list, but I imagine I've put it there for very different reasons. I've struggled a long time with my relationship with Henry James; I very much appreciate him and admire him, but sometimes I do wish he'd just get to the point. He seems to do this much more gingerly in the three accompanying stories to this edition. And while they all do qualify as ghost stories, Turn of the Screw is certainly the only one I might call horrific. But the horror, to me, is absolutely internal. I don't trust our narrator for a minute, (as I fear I may have back in high school, as I hadn't been a practised enough reader to realize I don't have to trust my narrator.) I think our narrator wants a ghost story as much as we do, so she plants the images that will give her the most fright, and the true horror is that she believes her own narration. I think that there are two ways to approach Henry James; one is to search for his "moral", find the phrases that back up your theory, and compare them to the thousands of other James' theorists in print. There is always plenty of material ripe for analysis. James is nothing if not thorough in his reasoning. The other way is to simply let the words run over you and carry you along, and, even if you feel a bit mired in his wordiness, you will come out the other end of the paragraph with something close to epiphany.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Fábio de Carvalho

    I really took way too much time reading this, and while it is partially because I just couldn't get into it, it viciously made it even harder for me to connect with the book. In the end, the story I liked most was that of The Friends of the Friends, revolving around two people seemingly unable to meet for years because of various coincidences and accidents. It presented obsession, jealousy and a touch of cosmic malice that presented me with the exact eeriness I love to see in horror writing. Obvi I really took way too much time reading this, and while it is partially because I just couldn't get into it, it viciously made it even harder for me to connect with the book. In the end, the story I liked most was that of The Friends of the Friends, revolving around two people seemingly unable to meet for years because of various coincidences and accidents. It presented obsession, jealousy and a touch of cosmic malice that presented me with the exact eeriness I love to see in horror writing. Obviously, I read the collection because of The Turn of the Screw, and I'm sad and, frankly, ashamed, to have to admit that I didn't understand a thing about it. Everything seemed repetitive, muddled, voluntarily opaque and I could not understand neither where Henry James was going or what he was trying to convey. I certainly did not feel any sense of dread either, reading it. I know it is regarded as a great piece of work and as a true classic, and most of the times, when I don't like a classic, it is because, while I understand why it is held in such high regards, I don't agree with the qualities people see in them, or because I see flaws too important for me. Here, it's like I can't even understand why it is so touted, and I can't help but think that it must be because I failed as a reader, somewhere, somehow, while reading the story.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Blair

    3/5 for the 'other stories', 4/5 for The Turn of the Screw itself, so more of a 3.5/5 overall. The other stories didn't leave much of an impression on me. As far as classic supernatural/ghostly tales go, I think I prefer the more explicit otherworldliness of Edgar Allan Poe's short stories. The Turn of the Screw was suitably atmospheric, although I found it hard to divorce from my previous impressions of the story, especially the souped-up version delivered by the recent BBC TV adaptation. I lik 3/5 for the 'other stories', 4/5 for The Turn of the Screw itself, so more of a 3.5/5 overall. The other stories didn't leave much of an impression on me. As far as classic supernatural/ghostly tales go, I think I prefer the more explicit otherworldliness of Edgar Allan Poe's short stories. The Turn of the Screw was suitably atmospheric, although I found it hard to divorce from my previous impressions of the story, especially the souped-up version delivered by the recent BBC TV adaptation. I liked the ambiguity of the story and the way the reader is left to make up their own mind about whether the 'ghosts' are real. (Personally I'm inclined to think not, although I thought the children were ghastly anyway!) To be fair, I read this on a plane and it's the sort of book you should really curl up with somewhere quiet on a stormy winter night. I might give it another try later.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    Left expecting more.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Miceál

    I was a little apprehensive because the Author's Preface was so dense and dull that I understood perhaps 2% of what he was on about, and naturally this made me concerned that the prose would be the same. It is dense, but not excessively so; it's what you would expect from literature during the Victorian period, so if you're used to that you should have no trouble. This collection features three other short stories as well as the titular novella, so I'll review each individually. The Turn of the S I was a little apprehensive because the Author's Preface was so dense and dull that I understood perhaps 2% of what he was on about, and naturally this made me concerned that the prose would be the same. It is dense, but not excessively so; it's what you would expect from literature during the Victorian period, so if you're used to that you should have no trouble. This collection features three other short stories as well as the titular novella, so I'll review each individually. The Turn of the Screw This wasn't actually my favourite of the bunch. When it got going, it was decent, but I do think it was entirely too long. Perhaps if the sense of suspense had been clearer it would have worked, but ironically I don't think it was long enough for adequate suspense to build. It should have been a short story beginning closer to the action, or a full-length Gothic novel. As it happened it wasn't either, and it resulted in quick, tense scenes of good threat and action separated by dull paragraphs of introspection that did nothing for the pacing. What I did like about it was that it was utterly incomprehensible. It'a impossible to work out what's going on, but in a good way -- there are so many options, and all of them are awful. At the simplest, two children are being tormented by evil spirits. But how real are these spirits? What is fact and what is the governess's imagination? How much is everyone getting caught up in a sense of adventure and mystery? How far are they going for the aesthetics of a haunting? Is it a trick? Delusion? Or is it straight-up evil ghosts? You can't be sure, and you probably won't find out. and Other Stories... Sir Edmund Orme: My favourite of the bunch. Short, sweet, and good solid ghost story, well paced and the perfect length for itself. This one was a classic in terms of ghost stories and it had a brilliant atmosphere. Owen Wingrave: Alright, but suffered from an excessive build-up that didn't match the climax. There was a lot of family drama that bulked out the story and set the scene, but ultimately didn't have much to do with anything. This could have been half the length it was. The Friends of the Friends: Another great one, paced well and solid. The premise was very unique and utterly tragic in the way the best ghost stories are. There's a sense of inevitability about it that's just devastating, and the narrator is delightfully flawed. Overall a solid collection. Main gripe was pacing, but when it was good it was brilliant.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Libby

    I was a little disappointed with The Turn of the Screw. I don't usually find older language difficult to read, but the style he used to tell the story was really wordy and hard to get through. I've wanted to read this story since I was young, so maybe I was expecting too much. However, I did find the telling of the ghosts and their interactions with people incredibly well-written, eerily descriptive, and overall what I was hoping to find in this story. The dialogue was choppy and difficult to fo I was a little disappointed with The Turn of the Screw. I don't usually find older language difficult to read, but the style he used to tell the story was really wordy and hard to get through. I've wanted to read this story since I was young, so maybe I was expecting too much. However, I did find the telling of the ghosts and their interactions with people incredibly well-written, eerily descriptive, and overall what I was hoping to find in this story. The dialogue was choppy and difficult to follow - I understood the nature of it; that these women were thinking the same things, and that those things were going unsaid. I get that - it certainly added to the mystery, and there were several double meanings throughout the story, adding tensions (both sexually and other) throughout. Sometimes though, and I feel a little guilty in saying this, I just wish someone would have said what they were thinking. The mystery behind whether or not the governess was actually seeing ghosts I thought could have been emphasized more, but to be honest I was happy with it; I think I'd rather just assume they were ghosts! It was also a good telling of a class-based society, where certain classes shouldn't have been mixing and the consequences of when they do. I read two out of the other three stories in this edition (excluded the last one due to lack of time) - "The Romance of Certain Old Clothes" and "Friends of Friends". "Old Clothes" was great - still had that Henry James vibe of not coming out and saying what everyone thinks, but done more subtley I think. The ending was brilliant early horror. "Friends of Friends": Eerie. Bizarre. But as far as the storytelling goes, just okay. I think I would have liked to see the second half emphasized more. Still worth a read on a cold night by the fire!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    If for some reason you have never read Henry James before, I urge you to begin by reading his short novels and short stories, of which The Turn of the Screw and Other Stories is a worthy collection. To those who are not familiar with his work, James seems to be a singularly bland, even bloodless character who seems incapable to any great depths. Far from it! Why I particularly like this collection is that it includes a number of stories in which the author, being cognizant of his reputation, tri If for some reason you have never read Henry James before, I urge you to begin by reading his short novels and short stories, of which The Turn of the Screw and Other Stories is a worthy collection. To those who are not familiar with his work, James seems to be a singularly bland, even bloodless character who seems incapable to any great depths. Far from it! Why I particularly like this collection is that it includes a number of stories in which the author, being cognizant of his reputation, tries to address it. In this category are "The Real Thing," "The Figure in the Carpet," "The Tree of Knowledge," "Maud-Evelyn," and most especially the great "The Beast in the Jungle." Also included are two great ghost stories, the novelette-length "The Turn of the Screw" and the surprising "The Jolly Corner." These and all the other stories are from the early 1900s. Usually, I like to include a quote from the author, but James does not quote well. With him, the context is everything. And how he manipulates the reader by lulling him or her into a false sense of boredom before he wrenches the carpet away and one finds one is groveling among the dust bunnies.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    Ambivalent about the ambiguity... This collection is made up of four stories – the novella length title story and three shorter ones. The Turn of the Screw is, of course, a classic of the horror genre, but the other three are well worth reading too. The stories are:- The Turn of the Screw – the classic story of a governess looking after two orphaned young children becomes convinced they are being haunted and corrupted by the ghosts of their previous governess and their former valet. Or is she Ambivalent about the ambiguity... This collection is made up of four stories – the novella length title story and three shorter ones. The Turn of the Screw is, of course, a classic of the horror genre, but the other three are well worth reading too. The stories are:- The Turn of the Screw – the classic story of a governess looking after two orphaned young children becomes convinced they are being haunted and corrupted by the ghosts of their previous governess and their former valet. Or is she suffering from delusions? Sir Edmund Orme – Our narrator becomes fascinated by a mother and daughter, Mrs Marden and Charlotte, because of what he feels is their peculiarly strong concern for each other. Then, as he finds himself falling in love with Charlotte, the narrator begins to see a strange man, who never speaks, and his appearances seem to coincide with Mrs Marden’s “episodes”. Eventually, she takes him into her confidence and tells him the story of her one-time lover, Sir Edmund Orme. Owen Wingrave – the title character is a young man from a military family who is being crammed for the entrance exam to get into Sandhurst, the army’s elite officer training college. However, Owen has different views – he despises war, and believes that politicians who lead their nations into war should be hanged, drawn and quartered. When he drops out of training, his family and friends put pressure on him to think again, and when the girl he loves implies that he is a coward, to prove her wrong he agrees to spend a night in the haunted room of his family castle... The Friends of the Friends – the story of two people, a man and a woman, who share the distinction of each having seen a ghost. This coincidence makes their mutual friends want to bring them together, but circumstances always seem to prevent them meeting. Eventually it seems they will meet, but it isn’t to be – one of them dies before the meeting takes place. The other one, however, as we know, can see ghosts... While for the most part I found the writing good and certainly effective at conjuring up an atmosphere, I several times came across sentences so badly constructed that they required me to go back and read them again to catch the meaning, and sometimes they were still obscure after that. Perhaps sometimes James was doing this for effect, to add to the vagueness and ambiguity. But truthfully, I mostly felt it was just clumsy, lazy writing that he hadn’t bothered to revise properly before publication. Aside from that criticism, each of the four stories is well-structured, and the sense of vagueness that surrounds the narrative intention has the effect of leaving them open to interpretation. I found this tended to make them linger in my mind for longer than most spooky stories, as I mulled over what was beneath the surface. And generally speaking, I concluded that what was there was rather unpleasant – hints of child sexual abuse in The Turn of the Screw, a controlling lover in Sir Edmund Orme, family pressure taken to extremes in Owen Wingrave and extreme jealousy in The Friends of the Friends. Horror stories always tend to be based on unpleasant things, of course, but here it somehow left me feeling more uncomfortable than usual and I’m not sure I know why. Perhaps because the horror aspects are mostly low-key and so the underlying story stands out more than usual, or perhaps because James uses ambiguity to force the reader to, in a sense, fill in the blanks, making it feel as if the unpleasantness comes from inside her own mind. Whatever the reason, it meant that though I quite enjoyed them while reading I found they left a slightly nasty aftertaste – especially The Turn of the Screw. I wonder if that was James’ intention? I suspect it may have been. You can probably tell that I feel quite ambivalent about this collection. I rated each of the three shorter stories as four stars and The Turn of the Screw as five, but that’s mostly due to my appreciation of their impact rather than an indication of my enjoyment. NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Oxford World’s Classics. www.ficitonfanblog.wordpress.com

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jim Puskas

    These stories are justifiably famous. Henry James, in his own peculiar way revels in the power of suggestion. In what manner the apparitions in “The Turn of the Screw” present a real menace to the children or their governess is never made clear — or whether they exist at all, apart from within the governess’ troubled mind, their appearance derived out of Mrs. Grose’s account of two departed residents of the estate. The entire scenario of isolation that has been imposed by the patron’s oppressive These stories are justifiably famous. Henry James, in his own peculiar way revels in the power of suggestion. In what manner the apparitions in “The Turn of the Screw” present a real menace to the children or their governess is never made clear — or whether they exist at all, apart from within the governess’ troubled mind, their appearance derived out of Mrs. Grose’s account of two departed residents of the estate. The entire scenario of isolation that has been imposed by the patron’s oppressive condition of employment seems contrived, injecting a creepy sense of entrapment and compelling the governess to seek answers from the children themselves, thereby ratcheting up the tension — i.e. turning the screw. If there’s truly a villain in the piece perhaps it’s the patron, who seems to have, in a cowardly manner, avoided having to deal with any sort of trouble at home. That lack of moral responsibility pops up again in “The Pupil” where we’re presented with a pair of grifters who have no qualms about exploiting their son’s tutor and failing to make any reasonable provision for their beloved son’s welfare. There’s a vague sense of unreality to all three stories: the two children in “The Turn of the Screw” are excessively beautiful and abnormally well-behaved; the entire household in “The Pupil” is quite peculiar; in “The Third Person”, the relationship of the two cousins with their ghostly guest is far from what one might expect them to develop. All of which suggests to me that James didn’t intend any of this to be taken very seriously; all three stories are allegorical, each in its own way. In the third story, James was simply having a bit of fun. Of their visitor, the ladies decide: they must, though he was such an addition to their grandeur, keep him quite to themselves. Other people might hear of what was in the letters but they should never hear of him. They were not afraid that either of the maids would see him — he was not a matter for maids. I have one obvious quibble: the ponderous style of writing that prevailed in 19th century literature. One needs to adjust to its slow, halting pace, awkward sentence structure and angling interjections.

  20. 4 out of 5

    nimra

    it is a story of a young governess, who is the narrator, she has been appointed at Bly manor to look after two children, Miles and Flora, who she describes as 'angelic',and 'perfect', almost to the extent of idealism. after a few days at her job, she starts to see dead people around the house, but as a reader, we can't be sure if the ghosts really are there, because the kids refuse of seeing any such thing. i really liked how it explored unreliability of sight. it's more of a psychological horror it is a story of a young governess, who is the narrator, she has been appointed at Bly manor to look after two children, Miles and Flora, who she describes as 'angelic',and 'perfect', almost to the extent of idealism. after a few days at her job, she starts to see dead people around the house, but as a reader, we can't be sure if the ghosts really are there, because the kids refuse of seeing any such thing. i really liked how it explored unreliability of sight. it's more of a psychological horror and depends upon the reader's perception of what they believe. Henry James' writing style was a bit hard to get into and felt confusing at times but i really enjoyed it once i was invested.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lenore .

    well boo

  22. 4 out of 5

    Caro

    3 stars for most of the stories, 4 for The Friends of Friends. That one was great, and I'm pretty sure it's going to haunt me. 3 stars for most of the stories, 4 for The Friends of Friends. That one was great, and I'm pretty sure it's going to haunt me.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mario

    The Turn of the Screw ★★★ - I loved this story, though the writing style was a bit jarring. The Romance of Certain Old Clothes ★★★★ The Friends of the Friends ★★★★ - I really, really loved this concept. The Jolly Corner ★★ - I struggled the most with this one. Maybe I will come back to it one day

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy

    Taught The Turn of the Screw in a course at Regent University (Spring 2020).

  25. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Cairns

    I know that tastes change with the times, and some books that would have been terrifying and filled with tension won't hit the same as they did back in the day. But I will I have never been so bored. I will never pick up this collection again. Sir Edmund Orme was amazing, I will give if that. I read it in a single sitting. But the rest, oh dear. But even if this book wasn't for me, that doesn't mean it won't be for others. However I did read Postern of Fate in in shorter time. I know that tastes change with the times, and some books that would have been terrifying and filled with tension won't hit the same as they did back in the day. But I will I have never been so bored. I will never pick up this collection again. Sir Edmund Orme was amazing, I will give if that. I read it in a single sitting. But the rest, oh dear. But even if this book wasn't for me, that doesn't mean it won't be for others. However I did read Postern of Fate in in shorter time.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Wyatt

    I’ve read Turn of the Screw countless times but I’d never read the other three in this collection: “Sir Edmund Orme,” “Owen Wingrave,” and “The Friends of the Friends.” All very good and interesting to see how elements repeat in James’s ghost stories (the silent, staring ghosts; the hints of sexual desire; the sudden deaths on seeing ghosts) and find their most complex expression in Turn of the Screw.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Breanna

    Henry James' writing style was so fragmented it hurt my head sometimes to read. I enjoyed the story "Sir Edmund Orme" and "Friends of the Friends" was ok, but all the stories were unnecessarily far too long. Regarding the famous "Turn of the Screw" it was about 100 pages too long, and again the fragmented way of writing that James had made getting fully engaged in the story difficult. The story he wanted to tell I felt could have been written in a much more cohesive and suspenseful way. This was Henry James' writing style was so fragmented it hurt my head sometimes to read. I enjoyed the story "Sir Edmund Orme" and "Friends of the Friends" was ok, but all the stories were unnecessarily far too long. Regarding the famous "Turn of the Screw" it was about 100 pages too long, and again the fragmented way of writing that James had made getting fully engaged in the story difficult. The story he wanted to tell I felt could have been written in a much more cohesive and suspenseful way. This was my first Henry James, and I must say I'm not altogether impressed. I look forward to reading one of his novels, of which I hope the writing style is much more coherent. Two stars is my overall rating, as I said previously two of the stories I found some enjoyment in.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Thegazzardian

    My wife and I watched "The Haunting at Bly Manor" over the course of a few months. It is the only non-toddler-friendly TV show we have watched this year, and I enjoyed it quite a bit, even though it wasn't perfect. It did some really interesting things with the storytelling, and when I found out it was based on a book, and that the book was only 120 pages, I figured, why not see what the book is all about? Other than featuring six characters with the same names (Miles, Flora, Mrs Grose, Ms Jesel, My wife and I watched "The Haunting at Bly Manor" over the course of a few months. It is the only non-toddler-friendly TV show we have watched this year, and I enjoyed it quite a bit, even though it wasn't perfect. It did some really interesting things with the storytelling, and when I found out it was based on a book, and that the book was only 120 pages, I figured, why not see what the book is all about? Other than featuring six characters with the same names (Miles, Flora, Mrs Grose, Ms Jesel, Peter Quint and the Governess), the story really has very little in common with the TV show. The TV show clearly built a lot on top of the light mythos in this book, and that was a disappointment to me, as I really enjoyed some of the storytelling techniques in the show and was curious how they were originally presented. None of them were present at all. Instead, we get a story about a governess and some ghosts that may or may not even actually be there (I tend to believe that they were, if only because it makes the story more enjoyable to me; there are enough clues both ways that it can be debated). Most of the story involves the Governess observing minor things and jumping to conclusions of the most fantastical sort, and poor Ms Grose believing in her every step of the way and becoming her confidant. In fact, it feels like almost 60% of the story is probably the Governess telling Ms Grose what she believes has happened. It's an alright tale, nothing special, and the archaic writing style (with some of the most convoluted sentence structures I've seen) make it a bit challenging to get into. I did try a couple of the other stories included in this collection, but did not find them particularly worth the time, even at 30 pages each.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Meg Pontecorvo

    Note: This review is for the edition, not the stories. If you are reading these stories for the first time, especially “The Turn of the Screw,” beware. Do not buy this edition, despite its low cost! The editor has absolutely no sense of his audience (likely students): he includes spoilers in the end notes, including revealing characters who will die! Rather than make the end notes informational, this editor, T. J. Lustig, can’t refrain from using the notes for commentary, with the result that the Note: This review is for the edition, not the stories. If you are reading these stories for the first time, especially “The Turn of the Screw,” beware. Do not buy this edition, despite its low cost! The editor has absolutely no sense of his audience (likely students): he includes spoilers in the end notes, including revealing characters who will die! Rather than make the end notes informational, this editor, T. J. Lustig, can’t refrain from using the notes for commentary, with the result that the stories would be wrecked for any reader unfamiliar with the stories who merely seeks information in the notes. And sure, the edition has a an appropriately scholarly introduction, reprints of the prefaces in which James discusses his aims in these ghost stories, a timeline of James’s life, appendices with additional info, blah, blah, blah. But putting spoilers in the end notes crosses a line, and exposes editor so full of himself that he exposes his sheer, pretentious ignorance of the basic functions of a reading edition.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Quill

    As I often say on this platform, it would be silly and pointless for me to review a text so classic; there is likely nothing original left to say. That being said, I really loved this little collection of stories. I speculate that probably half the page count is biography, references, appendixes etc. so be warned that there is not really much direct story content here. It’s incredible how James uses the figure of the ghost in each of these stories, as the ‘ghost’ plays a symbolically different r As I often say on this platform, it would be silly and pointless for me to review a text so classic; there is likely nothing original left to say. That being said, I really loved this little collection of stories. I speculate that probably half the page count is biography, references, appendixes etc. so be warned that there is not really much direct story content here. It’s incredible how James uses the figure of the ghost in each of these stories, as the ‘ghost’ plays a symbolically different role in each story. The ghost may represent feelings of guilt, familial trauma, jealousy, and of course, that old stand-by theme, the loss of innocence. Great writing throughout, some really well-constructed sentences. Also interesting to compare these works to Lovecraft, not only in the sense of the horror genre, but in looking at how the narratives are structured with frame narratives and retro-interred texts.

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