The Turn of the Screw and Other Short Fiction
By Henry James
(Bantam Classics, Mass Market Paperback, 9780553210590, 560pp.)
Publication Date: September 1, 1981
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To read a story by Henry James is to enter a fully realized world unlike any other—a rich, perfectly crafted domain of vivid language and splendid, complex characters. Devious children, sparring lovers, capricious American girls, obtuse bachelors, sibylline spinsters, and charming Europeans populate these five fascinating nouvelles, which represent the author in both his early and late phases. From the apparitions of evil that haunt the governess in “The Turn of the Screw” to the startling self-scrutiny of an egotistical man in “The Beast in the Jungle,” the mysterious turnings of human behavior are coolly and masterfully observed—proving Henry James to be a master of psychological insight as well as one of the finest prose stylists of modern English literature.
Henry James was born on April 15, 1843, on Washington Place in New York to the most intellectually remarkable of American families. His father, Henry Jane Sr., was a brilliant and eccentric religious philosopher; his brother was the first great American psychologists and the author of the influential Pragmatism; his sister, Alice, though an invalid for most of her life, was a talented conversationalist, a lively letter writer, and a witty observer of the art and politics of her time.
In search of the proper education for his children, Henry senior sent them to schools in America, France, Germany, and Switzerland. Returning to America, Henry junior lived in Newport, briefly attended Harvard Law School, and in 1864 began contributing stories and book reviews to magazines. Two more trips to Europe led to his final decision to settle there, first in Paris in 1875, then in London next year.
James's first major novel, Roderick Hudson, appeared in 1875, but it was "Daisy Miller" (1878) that brought him international fame as the chronicler of American expatriates and their European adventures. His novels include The American (1877), Washington Square (1880), Princess Casamassima (1886), and the three late masterpieces, The Wings of the Dove (1902), The Ambassadors (1903) and The Golden Bowl (1904). He also wrote plays, criticism, autobiography, travel books (including The American Scene, 1907) and some of the finest shot stories in the English language.
His later works were little read during his lifetime but have since come to be recognized as forerunners of literary modernism. Upon the outbreak of World War I, James threw his energies into war relief work and decided to adopt British citizenship. One month before his death, in 1916, he received the Order of Merit from King George V.
More than 150 writers from 40 events will gather in New York City for PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature, April 28 – May 4, 2014.
For its 10th anniversary, the festival celebrates those who have dared to stand ‘on the edge,’ risking their careers, and sometimes their lives, to speak out for their art and beliefs. Join us for a wide range of events, including debates, one-on-one conversations, participatory workshops and performances in venues throughout the city. Use the code PEN14 (use PEN2014 for events at The Public Theater) and receive a 20 percent discount on most events. www.worldvoicesfestival.org