This Prestwick House Literary Touchstone Classic includes a glossary and reader's notes to help the modern reader more fully appreciate the rich complexity of James' language, images, and symbols. Before there was Alfred Hitchcock, there was Henry James, and before Psycho, there was The Turn of the Screw. Why is the young governess the only one who can see the ghosts? Are her young charges haunted or evil? Or is the governess herself mad? The book that claims to start out as a Christmas Eve ghost story quickly becomes a tale of psychological horror as the governess struggles-and ultimately fails-to protect the children from the "corruption" that only she can conceive of...but cannot name. Richly wrought in Late-Victorian prose, Henry James' most famous novel is both hauntingly beautiful and a shocking glimpse into the ultimate source of evil...the human mind.
The story starts conventionally enough with friends sharing ghost stories 'round the fire on Christmas Eve. One of the guests tells about a governess at a country house plagued by supernatural visitors. But in the hands of Henry James, the master of nuance, this little tale of terror is an exquisite gem of sexual and psychological ambiguity. Only the young governess can see the ghosts; only she suspects that the previous governess and her lover are controlling the two orphaned children (a girl and a boy) for some evil purpose. The household staff don't know what she's talking about, the children are evasive when questioned, and the master of the house (the children's uncle) is absent. Why does the young girl claim not to see a perfectly visible woman standing on the far side of the lake? Are the children being deceptive, or is the governess being paranoid? By leaving the questions unanswered, The Turn of Screw generates spine-tingling anxiety in its mesmerized readers.