Sunday, 23 September 2007

THE TURN OF THE SCREW


I should like to share with you extracts from this month’s Reading Group book :

“…Relief arrived. I call it relief though it was only the relief that a snap brings to a strain or the burst of a thunderstorm to a day of suffocation. It was at least change, and it came with a rush.

….I came straight out of the churchyard and, thinking hard, retraced my steps through the park. It seemed to me that by the time I reached the house I had made up my mind to cynical flight. The Sunday stillness of both the approaches and of the interior, in which I met no one, fairly stirred me with a sense of opportunity. Were I to get off quickly this way I should get off without a scene, without a word. My quickness would have to be remarkable, however….Tormented in the hall, with difficulties and obstacles, I remember sinking down to the foot of the staircase – suddenly collapsing there on the lowest step and then, with a revulsion, recalling that it was exactly where, more than a month before, in the darkness of the night…I had seen the spectre of the most horrible of women. At this I was able to straighten myself; I went the rest of the way up; I made in my turmoil, for the…room where there were objects belonging to me that I should have to take. But I opened the door to find again, in a flash, my eyes unsealed. In the presence of what I saw I reeled straight back upon my resistance.

Seated at my own table in the clear noonday light I saw a person whom, without my previous experience, I should have taken at the first blush for some housemaid… She rose, not as if she had heard me but with a grand melancholy of indifference and detachment, …I had the extraordinary chill of a feeling that it was I who was the intruder. It was as a wild protest against it that, actually addressing her –“You terrible miserable woman”- I heard myself break into a sound that by the open door, rang through the long passage and the empty house...”

The book is, of course, Henry James’ classic ghost story, “The Turn of the Screw”. I can’t help speculating that if he were still alive and writing today, he could well host a divorce blog.

No comments: