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 her young charges really a malign and ghostly presence or something else entirely? The Turn of the Screw is James’s great masterpiece of haunting atmosphere and unbearable tension and has influenced subsequent ghost stories and films such as The Innocents, starring Deborah Kerr, and The Others, starring Nicole Kidman.
This Penguin Classics edition contains a chronology, further reading, notes and an introduction by David Bromwich examining the dark ambiguity of James’s work and the inseparability of narrative from point-of-view.
Henry James (1843-1916) son of a prominent theologian, and brother to the philosopher William James, was one of the most celebrated novelists of the fin-de-siecle. In addition to many short stories, plays, books of criticism, biography and autobiography, and much travel writing, he wrote some twenty novels. His novella Daisy Miller (1878) established him as a literary figure on both sides of the Atlantic, and his other novels in Penguin Classics include Washington Square (1880), The Portrait of a Lady (1881), The Awkward Age (1899), The Wings of the Dove (1902), The Ambassadors (1903) and The Golden Bowl (1904).
If you enjoyed The Turn of the Screw, you might like Edgar Allen Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher, also available in Penguin Classics.
‘A most wonderful, lurid, poisonous little tale’