The Turn of the Screw Audiobook
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The Turn of the Screw audiobook free
Over the years I have read this short novella, “The Turn of the Screw,” three times. My first reading was when I was very, very young and in college. This was one of the works assigned in the class I was taking; a literature class, and it was one of several works as I remember. I also remember that I approached this work with what I would call absolute pragmatic ambivalence. It had to be read, so I read it. After reading it I had to write a semi-short paper, so I did. I pretty well knew what the professor wanted to hear, so that is what I regurgitated because I wanted a good grade in that particular class. I got a good grade. I did not dislike the novel, nor did I particularly like it…It was simply a job I had to do.
My second reading took place in a place I did not want to be. It was a horrible place and I simply needed something to allow me to mentally detach myself from the situation I was in. A friend of mine had a copy of this work which he gave to me. James’ work did the job I wanted it to do at that time. I somewhat appreciated it at the time more than the first reading.
And now we come to this current, and of course most recent reading; different time, different place, different motivations and to top it off…I am now old. Since the first human scratched the first story onto a piece of papyrus there has been literary snobbery. The epicenter of this snobbery centers on `literary’ and `genre’ fiction. On one had we are told, by those that do the telling, that genre fiction is easy to read, easy to digest, but holds no nutritional value what so ever. On the other side of the coin we have those people who tell us what we are suppose to think praising the popular novel and thumbing their noses at “literature,’ claiming that `good literature’ is in reality only a cultural artifact and the only reason we have it around is for the same reason we value a well carved hunk of rock that no one can really interpret or really anymore cares about. This battle, if you will, has been heating up of late and is of great interest to me. I love it when people do battle over books.
Anyway, I was once again motivated to pull this small work by Henry James out and give it another go. Of all the works I know, this one has been analyzed, picked apart, speculated upon, and force fed to more people since it was written than any other. I thought it was a good place to start. As I write this, this book most certainly cannot be considered “popular fiction,” although it was considered just that when it was first written.
I can tell you right now, before I go on, that this third reading absolutely mesmerized me and I loved the thing from the first page to the last. Am I smarter now? Probably not. As a person quickly approaching the status of “old geezer” has my outlook on life and my perceptions changed? Probably so. What ever the case, this book, over the years, has changed for me…I have changed; the book has not.
This work was first published in 1898. It is a relatively short work and is considered by many to be the classic ghost story of that era. The premise of the plot is at first glance rather simple. A Governess is put in charge of two young children in or at an isolated mansion. The Governess sees ghosts – others do not, and she spends most of the book speculating as to how she will protect the children. Ah, but simple? No, that just ain’t so! By the use of what I consider brilliant ambiguity, purposefully crafted by the author, we have so very, very much more than a simple ghost story. The arguments and discussion over this work has been raging for years and years; indeed, since it was first published.
First, did the governess actually see ghosts – were they real? Or, as the other side would ask, is this a young lady with an overly active imagination touched with a bit of paranoia? Is the governess actually insane?
Second we ask ourselves what about the children? The author has given strong hints that not all was well between the two children and the two people who were their former caretakers – who are by the way now dead and are indeed the two ghosts our young governess keeps seeing…or thinks she sees. There is a very, very strong hint of sexual impropriety here at best; molestation at worse. The author never tells us. Why was the young lad in the story thrown out of school? The author never tells us. Vague shadowy hints only.
Third is linked with the first and deals with the governess’s emotions and state of mind. There have been strong theories over the years that we are dealing with a very sexually frustrated young lady…frustrated to the point of tipping her over the edge. Again, we are forced to anticipate the mind of James and consider the time frame in which this tale takes place. (I personally view the sexually frustration theory just slightly lame. Most of these theories popped up during a time when the public was obsessed with such matters and just about every aspect of life was linked to sexuality in one way or another.) Fiction and biography tell us strongly that young ladies who became governesses at that time were, as a whole, a very, very frustrated group of people. They were almost invariably “spinsters” with little hope of marriage usually due to reduced circumstances. These young women were well educated and indeed were in possession of a fare degree of sophistication. No prospect of marriage, little to no social life, little to no income, living under the roof of strangers, facing and endless number of rules, rules and more rules…well, quite often these women had major issues which manifested themselves in various ways; often at the expense of the children. Whether or not that was the case here…well, the reader is left to decide.
So ghost or imagination, sane or insane, sexual issues on different level or not….crafty writer, James.
And then we have the writing style. Long, long sentences; many having multiple subjects, inserted clauses and words, words and more words. The author, at first glance, uses a very confusing style with convoluted sentences being the norm. This is not an easy read by any means. The first time I read it was the worse, but I have to tell you that even this last reading required my reading and rereading some of the sentences in order to fully understand what the author was saying. Ah, but that was the essence of the book for me. Navigating through James’s prose, once I got the rhythm, was actually fun! Each sentence was a journey leading to another journey. I personally love this stuff! If you are put off by the style, put the book aside for a couple or three years and give it another shot. You may find your wait well worth it.
I have read that some feel that this is James’ greatest work. I personally would not even speculate on that since I have not read all of his work. I doubt it though. As to the answer to the questions brought up; those that have been discussed for years and years…well, to be honest with you, I just don’t know. And truth be told, I don’t think anyone else does either. The author wrote this the way he wrote it for just that reason. He has allowed each reader to come to his or her own conclusions – right or wrong and the author has done it well! That is the true marvel of this little book as far as I am concerned.
The Turn of the Screw audiobook Series Shifters Unbound
Henry James novella The Turning Of The Screw makes for interesting reading. It was first published in 1898. It is a gothic ghost story that is an eerie extension of everyday reality. However it tries one’s patience because its stylistic character involves the universal use of circumlocutionary language. It could have been written more concisely. But perhaps there is good reason for its particular stylistic character of which I am not aware. By couching the novella in a circumlocutionary form he, James, may be endeavouring to endow everyday experiences with a less familiar form. He may be, then, attempting to liberate language from its hackneyed (cliched ridden) form. His peculiar style of language may be an attempt to endow the book with a mysterious and gothic-like quality.
But its principal quality is the pervasiveness of ambiguity. Ambiguity runs right through the work. This means that there is never certainty concerning aspects of the putative reality being outlined in the little book. The governess at the large Gothic like country house called Blye starts to see ghostly images of two people that had worked there. One was her predecessor Miss Jessel. The other employee was Peter Quint. They are now dead. The governess becomes convinced that the two children, Miles and Flora, are secretly aware of the presence of the ghosts. But the reader, then, cannot be sure as to whether the governess really experiences these ghosts or whether she is delusional and that the ghosts existed only in her imagination.This is the ambiguity created by James. And in the latter part of the book we cannot be sure whether the boy’s, Miles, death is induced by the governess or for other reasons. Again this a result of the ambiguity created by James. The children, certainly Miles, are said to be involved in evil practices because of the influence of the two previous individuals who worked in the house. Yet there is essentially no evidence of the children being engaged in anything of an evil nature. Even Miles’ expulsion from school does not mean that he had been particularly bad at boarding school.
The ambiguity permeating the story is an analogy for the ambiguity that forms an inherent part of modern society. Our conduct and experiences in society today are enveloped in ambiguity and illusion. We can never be certain of the real nature of many of our experiences because of the ambiguity in which these experiences are entangled. People that we interact with cannot be always found reliable. This is because much of what they say and do is entangled in illusion and ideology. Politicians and other public figures constantly, whether purposely or not, engage in discourse and action that is enveloped in ambiguity or illusion.Ideology, from which we cannot absolutely escape, in modern society is a form of illusion or ambiguity. Under capitalism ambiguity or illusion is a universal phenomenon.
The book’s ambiguous nature transcends the matter of the governess and the supernatural images of Miss Jessell and Peter Quint. The ambiguity stretches into the other characters featuring in the book: Miles, Flora and Mrs Grose the housekeeper. None of them create any grounds for certainty either. They fail to confirm the character of the experiences of the governess. The illusions of the governess dominate the experiences of the governess herself along with those of the children and Mrs Grose. In a way the illusion is the dynamic dictating the (ambiguous) meaning of the novella. It is an indication of the social power of illusion. The inability to distinguish fact from fiction. Fact and fiction are mutually entwined.
Having said this it does follow that truth is unattainable. However it is not easily acquired. Its acquisition is a struggle. To strip off illusion and much of ambiguity contemporary society needs replacement by a communal form that precludes social oppression.
Audiobook The Turn of the Screw by Cris Dukehart
If you mention Henry James people always seem to shy away, thinking that his books are hard to read or to understand. Sometimes very long winded perhaps, but not in this case. Even if you never read anything else by Henry James ever, there is still plenty of reason to read this. I don’t know myself how many times I have read this novella over the years, as it is something that you find yourself coming back to time and time again.
Who doesn’t like a great ghost story? Well this is one of those. A governess has to take charge of two children but she starts seeing apparitions, which eventually result in tragedy. At the same time she goes about learning who these apparitions are. Sounds interesting? It is, and a great piece of escapism. You can read this tale just like that, but you also begin to notice that things may not be as they seem, there are definitely things going on just under the surface.
This is in many ways quite ambiguous as is there really a haunting, or is this just the imagination of a woman who may be hysterical or comes up with some fantasy to hide other things? Over the years many have taken on the challenge to come up with a definitive answer, and no one has, simply because there isn’t one. James left us with a great tale and something that will make you think. Many have tried since then to write something as good, as well as this being filmed many times. The simple truth though is that no one has come close, let alone excelled the Master himself. This really is one of the greatest supernatural tales ever written.
Audio The Turn of the Screw narrated by Cris Dukehart
Since finishing The Turn of the Screw, I’ve had to edit my rating; at first, I settled on 3/5, deciding that the book was OKAY, if a little overly ambiguous. Yet then I reflected on my reading experience, and decided that this rating would be a little unfair. I DID really enjoy reading this book, and I cannot deny that its ambiguity is what makes it so powerful.
The story follows an unnamed narrator who is hired as the governess in a place called Bly. There, she will care for the two children placed under her employer’s care, Flora and Miles. As soon as she meets these children, she is struck by their angelic beauty, and becomes desperate to protect them. This is made more complex when the narrator begins to see things that… shouldn’t really be there. Ghost-like figures begin following her around Bly, and the narrator is certain that they want to take the children from her.
It’s a gothic novella, and, as a result, contains many aspects of the traditional horror story. Bly is the haunted house that derives from Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto, and the supposed innocence of the children reflects that of the women in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Yet there is a lot more to this story than first meets the eye. As the story goes on, the narrator begins to suspect that the children are purposefully going after the ghosts, almost as if they want to join them in the hellish afterlife that Henry James describes.
The brilliance of this story lies in the fact that it becomes impossible to determine whether the narrator is slowly losing their mind, or whether there really are ghosts flitting through Bly. In a highly-confusing, yet, with reflection, extremely powerful ending, this ambiguity is cemented. This is one of those stories where you can never really tell what the truth was, and there’s a certain appeal as to thinking about it, and trying to discern the truth from a book that only ever seems to offer questions.
It’s quite an intense read, but was the perfect choice for Halloween; there’s a certain appeal to reading about ghosts from the past as the rain hits the windows outside and children dress up as ghouls and monsters. It’s also a classic, so, whilst I found the writing truly beautiful, it may not be for everyone, particularly as some of the sentence structures were enormously confusing. Personally, I’m really glad that I chose to read The Turn of the Screw. It really is a book that will make you think, and maybe even shiver.
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Read this for book club. Reading this book has given me an insight into how it feels to hate reading. The whole book was a struggle. Long drawn out sentances, suspense building up to nothing and far to many commas
I appreciate classics take you on a different reading experience but this was just painful. I didn’t even read anything this boring in my english literature class. Wasn’t even sure what he was talking about half the time
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