Book Review: The Turn of the Screw and Other Short Novels by Henry James

This is the second book of short stories I've read by Henry James. The previous book of short stories (four) I loved. This book of short stories (six) I did not like. As in the previous review I'll give a brief synopsis and review.

The time period for all the stories are late 1800's. Most have the theme of traveling, American versus European ideas and culture, men and women relationships. The Turn of the Screw is the odd one out, completely different from Henry James's other short stories. 

An International Episode published in 1878
~~~Two Englishmen travel to the United States, specifically New York. They tour the city, dine in the best restaurants, attend social gatherings. There is more than one reference of "American girls are very clever." A young woman named Bessie meets these men and is attracted to one of them. Later she will travel to London and reunites with one them.
~~~This story was okay. What I found interesting was: the gossip, assumptions, generalizing of Americans, English, aristocratic society, and those who are in a lower notch in society. At least in this story the girl is smart and not a damsel. 

 Daisy Miller published in 1878 (reviewed in previous post)

The Aspern Papers published in 1888
~~~An American man travels to Italy to meet with two reclusive women who knew a poet named Jeffrey Aspern. One of these women had an affair with Aspern. This American man is in hopes of possessing these unpublished papers that were written by Aspern. 
~~~Nothing interested me in this story. Glad it was short.

The Altar of the Dead published in 1895
~~~George Stransom was engaged as a young man and she died on their wedding day. He has spent many sad and bitter years grieving. He meets a new woman and they spend time together. He has joy in his life. Then they find out they have a common link and it disturbs them.
~~~This story ends abruptly, it is open-ended without a conclusion.

The Turn of the Screw published in 1898 is a suspenseful, mysterious, thriller-type-Gothic fiction. Although it is tame compared to thriller stories of our age.
 ~~~A women shared a story to a man (the moderator telling the story) who wrote it down in a manuscript. It is a strange story of when she was a young woman and a governess to two children. The house they lived in was an old country house in Essex, England. The two impressionable children are orphans, and they live with their uncle. The young governess begins seeing apparitions, as well as the children.
~~~This story is meant to be a fireside-suspenseful-psychological-type story. For the 19th century this was probably true. I did not find it to be anything other than hard to follow. It was not interesting to me. I did not enjoy reading it. 

The Beast in the Jungle published in 1903
~~~A couple who knew each other ten years previously and meet again. Ten years ago he had shared a secret with her which she kept, yet reminded him of. The rest of the story is of him analyzing this "secret."
~~~I disliked this story most of all because of this "secret." Just tell me already! I have to remember in the Victorian age people did not talk about certain topics, they had strong boundaries, structured rules, and a persona to reflect in keeping with society. 

Published by Signet Classic 2007
464 pages
19th Century/Victorian Period/A Victorian Celebration June and July 2012/The Classics Club/Short Stories
Link@ publisher:,,9781436248624,00.html?The_Turn_of_The_Screw_and_Other_Short_Novels_Henry_James#

Link @ Amazon:
Paperback $4.95
Nook $4.99


  1. I reviewed Daisy Miller in the previous post. It was a story that was also in the previous book I read on short stories of Henry James.


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