The most monstrous and incredible ghost-story

One last contemporary reaction to “Turn of the Screw,” this time from the December, 1898, issue of The Critic. Quite a contrast from the scathing critique I posted yesterday!

“The subject matter of ‘The Turn of the Screw’ is also made up of feminine intuitions, but the heroine–this time a governess–has nothing in the least substantial upon which to base her deep and startling cognitions. She perceives what is beyond all perception, and the reader who begins by questioning whether she is supposed to be sane ends by accepting her conclusions and thrilling over the horrors they involve. The story, in brief, concerns itself with the hideous fate of two beautiful and charming children who have been subjected to the baneful and corrupting influence of two evil-intentioned servants. These, dying, are unable to give up their hold upon so much beauty and charm, but while suffering the torments of damnation, come back to haunt the children as influences of horror and evil, with a ‘fury of intentions’ to complete the  ruin they have begun. The story is told by the governess, who recounts her slow recognition of the situation and her efforts to shield and save her charges. It is the most monstrous and incredible ghost-story that ever was written. At the same time it grasps the imagination in a vise. The reader is bound to the end by the spell, and if, when the lids of the book are closed, he is not convinced as to the possibility of such horrors, he is at least sure that Mr. James has produced an imaginative masterpiece.”

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