Historical Horror Fiction: The Turn of the Screw

by Henry James

Long before DaVinci Code, Turn of the Screw was generating all sorts of controversy. The haunting of two Victorian era children by their former governess and servant is one of literature’s first genuine gothic chillers. Since its publication 1898, all sorts of interpretationshave been applied to this ambiguous puzzler. Are the ghosts genuine or a product of neurosis? Who sees them? Just what is going on with the young master, and is he actually perpetrating all the terror? Then there are readers who dislike James’s formal style. For me, these and other questions enhance my enjoyment of this essentially timeless story. James’s elegant language merely adds another layer to the deliciously creepy atmosphere. The Turn of the Screw is fun to read and enjoy as a ghost story, pure and simple. For double the fun, check out the DVD, of which there are several versions. My favorite is the one with Deborah Kerr. Just a young teen when I first saw it, it haunted my dreams for months. Just don’t watch it alone!

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One thought on “Historical Horror Fiction: The Turn of the Screw

  1. I am re-reading this after many years, and I have to agree with your assessmeht. For me, it’s the quintessential ghost story. Probably not an easy read for those who cut their “ghost story” teeth on Stephen King, but well worth the effort!

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