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Michelle CH

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The Turn of the Screw and The Aspern Papers

The Turn of the Screw and The Aspern Papers - Henry James The Aspern Papers I read first, and it wasn't the kind of storytelling style I enjoy. The writing was choppy and a little hard for me to follow. I felt the same as I read The Turn ( although the psychological aspects of The Turn are rather fascinating). Many years ago I read Daisy Miller and remember that I wasn't fond of James's style at that time as well.

Outside of the writing, some of the trouble I had with The Aspern Papers is that the main character is rather loathsome and sneaky. His quest for Aspern the poet's lost papers has him seek out the former lover and muse of Aspern, Juliana Bordereau. This nameless young man talks Juliana into renting him rooms in her home in Venice. From there he woos the niece and only companion of Juliana with the purpose of gaining access to those valuable papers. To the end, I hoped that he would not be successful in this quest. Where James does well is in bringing Venice to life; as a reader I could feel the heat, smell the flowers and see the canals.

The battle of the wills between this nameless young man and Juliana is intense. Will he or won't he get his hands on those oh so valuable papers?

This was my second reading of The Turn of the Screw and it is completely rich with hysteria and creepiness. Again we have another nameless narrator relating the story of a governess and her experiences with two children in a remote country home. The governess from the beginning was dramatic and totally convinced that evil was surrounding the pupils in her care and in their home. The two children she is responsible for, Miles and Flora, seem innocent enough but the governess seems to always be on the hunt for evil influences. It is like watching a guilty person pointing the finger at everyone else. When she discovers that the former governess, Miss Jessel and the former manservant of the estate,Quint, were lovers and the primary caretakers of Miles and Flora, all hell breaks lose. There is the implication that these two were inappropriate with the children and it it is all left up to the reader to interpret. By the end I felt like a little bit of crazy turned into a lot of crazy.