Henry James' Novella "Turn of the Screw" Is Published

The Turn of the Screw is a novella (short novel) written by Henry James.

Originally published in 1898, it is ostensibly a ghost story that has lent itself well to operatic and film adaptation. Due to its ambiguous content The Turn of the Screw became a favourite text of New Criticism.

The account has lent itself to dozens of different interpretations, often mutually exclusive, including those of a Freudian nature. Many critics have tried to determine the exact nature of evil in the story.

Henry James’s novella, "The Turn of the Screw", has been referred to by scholars as the author’s “most puzzling and controversial work” (Curtis n.p.). Literary critic Harold Bloom has described James’s oeuvre as being marked with “great intelligence and energy,” with a moral innocence that confirmed his “ripe unconsciousness of evil…, one of the most beautiful signs by which we know him” (4). In James’s work, wrote Bloom, the reader gets the sense that the writer drew inspiration for his characters and their mild troubles from a turn-of-the-century “community [in] which misery and extravagance, and either extreme of any sort, were equally absent” (4). Yet "Turn of the Screw", a work from the latter part of James’s writing career and his life, does not fit comfortably or neatly within such an admiring and benevolent description. "Turn of the Screw" is curious precisely because compared to other works by Henry James, the author exhibits a ripe consciousness of evil and of profound psychological disturbance.