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The Turn of the Screw

by Henry James

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Category : Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

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The story had held us, round the fire, sufficiently breathless, but except the obvious remark that it was gruesome, as, on Christmas Eve in an old house, a strange tale should essentially be, I remember no comment uttered till somebody happened to say that it was the only case he had met in which such a visitation had fallen on a child. The case, I may mention, was that of an apparition in just such an old house as had gathered us for the occasion—an appearance, of a dreadful kind, to a little boy sleeping in the room with his mother and waking her up in the terror of it; waking her not to dissipate his dread and soothe him to sleep again, but to encounter also, herself, before she had succeeded in doing so, the same sight that had shaken him. It was this observation that drew from Douglas—not immediately, but later in the evening—a reply that had the interesting consequence to which I call attention. Someone else told a story not particularly effective, which I saw he was not following.

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Henry James

Henry James, OM was an American writer who spent most of his writing career in Britain. He is regarded as one of the key figures of 19th-century literary realism.

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    anonymous

    “The Turn of the Screw” is the near perfect Victorian ghost story, continually asking the question “Are the ghosts real?” A governess is sent to a lonely country estate to care for two children along with the housekeeper; the children are possibly attacked by sinister specters of former servants who want to possess them. Or is the situation all in the governess’ mind, a product of a Freudian-like sexual repression brought on by her wish to be indispensable to the mysterious absent father. Just encapsulating the story into a couple of sentences sends a chill up the spine. I re-read this every couple of years and am chilled every time.

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