For some reason, I have barely read any Henry James--Daisy Miller so long ago it really doesn't count and The Aspern Papers a year or so ago as a follow up to John Berendt's City of Falling Angels.
The RIP challenge that is make the blog rounds got me to thinking that a good ghost story would be a fun read, and since The Turn of the Screw has so many fans, is by a classic writer I haven't really read, I decided to give it a go. Plus, I had picked up this version of the story (The Turn of the Screw (Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism)) at my used bookstore and it's been just collecting dust for awhile.
In a nutshell, James is not a walk in the park.
On the upside, I can understand Hemingway better after having attempted to read James. He makes me want to write short, direct sentences as well!
The story itself (i.e., Turn of the Screw) is really good, but I feel like I have to diagram each sentence to make sense of it. I have to reread sections, and the parentheticals are driving me crazy. I like his vocabulary, but the denseness of his style tends to undercut his ability to build tension. The story just loses momentum when the reader is forced to reread for meaning.
In a way, I'm looking forward to reading the essays that follow the text at least as much as the story itself.
All my ranting aside, the story really is good. I know the current governess gets out alive because the framed part of the story is that the narrator is reading her manuscript, which she wrote after leaving Bly. I've got my eye on Mrs. Grose--she knows more than she is letting on. Those kids are getting spookier by the minute. Maybe James really did know what he was doing...
Here's an image from the movie The Innocents, which is based on the book. I imagine I'll be watching it sometime this fall.