Thursday, January 13, 2022

“Grey sky and withered garlands”

Henry James, The Turn of the Screw (1898).

The governess might be mad, but she can write well, though she sometimes shares James’s penchant for convoluted syntax. Not here though.

[It’s strange to read this narrative in light of a recent conspiracy theory about danger to children. And I think that’s all I’m going to say about that conspiracy theory.]

comments: 3

Slywy said...

I started highlighting “respectable” and similar.

One of my favorite comprehensible bits.

“that hush in which something gathers or crouches. The change was actually like the spring of a beast.“

Slywy said...

I looked at my notes. I had highlighted the autumn passage. I have my moments apparently.

Note how often the nameless governess talks about herself as the only one, the savior. It’s . . . interesting.

Also, this struck me as super duper creepy:

We continued silent while the maid was with us—as silent, it whimsically occurred to me, as some young couple who, on their wedding journey, at the inn, feel shy in the presence of the waiter. He turned round only when the waiter had left us. "Well—so we're alone!"

I can’t recall if Wayne Booth referred to this work in particular when talking about unreliable narrators.

Michael Leddy said...

Yep. I marked those passages too. And this one about “exquisite” little Miles (yeesh!): “At this, with a moan of joy, I enfolded, I drew him close; and while I held him to my breast, where I could feel in the sudden fever of his little body the tremendous pulse of his little heart, I kept my eyes on the thing at the window and saw it move and shift its posture.”