Monday, January 14, 2013

The Turn of the Screw

The Turn Of The ScrewThe Turn Of The Screw by Henry James
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was not as impressed as I think I should have been by James' prose, yet I think I was left shaken by the shadows in the interstices between the narrator's words. In fact, James' prose was tedious and sometimes downright irritating. But irritating in the way a fern tickling your nose might be irritating when you're trying to spy on someone from behind some plants. Or tedious in the way that brick dust rubs up against your whiskery half-shaven beard when you are trying to surreptitiously peek around a corner to observe someone caught in a lewd act. The words don't get in the way so much as they serve as a foil to the real action or, more properly, the wisps of phantom air left by real action. Reading this novella is a game of shadows. At times the shadows seem more mysterious because of their vagary, at times they seem like they might come into sharp, dark focus, only to slip away, to the reader's disappointment. Then, there are a few of those moments of perfect frisson, where one shivers and asks "who just touched me?!?" only to turn and see nothing but an empty meadow or the waters of a still lake under a grey sky.

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