Saturday, September 30, 2006

Book #38 - The Turn of the Screw and The Aspern Papers

by Henry James

4th book finished for the R.I.P. Autumn Challenge

My Rating: 2.5/5

I'm wondering if it's blasphemous to say that I was rather disappointed with both of these tales. For The Turn of the Screw, the ambiguity doesn't bother me, as I generally dislike endings with everything tied up neatly. However, I never felt or understood the supposed horror, or evilness, of the situation which means that it didn't do much for me as a ghost story. I enjoyed The Aspern Papers a bit more but again I wasn't overly impressed. To give them the benefit of the doubt, I can perhaps blame it on "wrong book at the wrong time" syndrome as I really struggled with his prose. I found myself often rereading sentences, even paragraphs, to attempt to grasp just what he was saying. The only other work by James that I've read is Washington Square, which I quite enjoyed. But since reading Colm Toibin's The Master, about the life of Henry James, I've wanted to read more. I will try again; I already have The Portrait of a Lady and Daisy Miller here, but I'll make sure to be in the right mood next time.

For much more eloquent comments on The Turn of the Screw, see recent posts by Danielle, and The Literate Kitten, also here and here.


  1. Kudos to you for finishing it even if it was a struggle. And 4 down...that means one to go! Nice job!

  2. Oh, dear. I've never read anything by James, but have The Portrait of a Lady in my stacks. I thought I'd read it for my Classic Challenge, but it seemed too daunting and I didn't want to spend the entire month on one book!

  3. Thanks Carl. I hope to start #5 soon. As for finishing, I usually do finish books, and I did want to know how it turned out. Good thing it wasn't too long!

    Les, I'll definitely try again. I just might make sure I'm in the mood for his style before I tackle another one.


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