He was born in New York in 1843 and travelled a lot, so in 1875 in Paris he met Zola, Maupassant and Flaubert. In 1876 in London he produced "The American", "Daisy Miller", "The portrait of a lady", "Washington square" and "The turn of the screw". Worl War I aroused in James a strong feeling of love for England. He is the pioneer of the modern psychological novel and in his novels the events are presented through the consciousness of a single character, even if they are narrated in the third person. Instead of the traditional omniscient narrator he uses a narrator with a limited point of view. Two themes are dominant in him: the relationship between American and European culture and the contrast innocence-experience, integrity-corruption. The story isn't important in his works; he goes deeply inside the minds of his main characters so as to see people and events through their eyes. He died in 1916 after the British citizenship of 1915.
The turn of the screw
It is a "novella", a short story and a gothic story, so it can be read as a ghosty story, as a psychological study and as a thriller or horror fiction in the Gothic style where the terror is built on the workings of the mind. This story tells of a girl who became the governess of two orphan children raised by a rich uncle, described as a gentleman and a bachelor in the prime of life. The two children named Flora and Miles are charming but the governess soon realized that she is strange because she sees ghosts and tell it to the Mrs Grose, the housekeeper and her confident.
The narrative structure is complex and the events are filtred: the first narrator hears hints at a very strange story from the second narrator, Douglas, who is one of the guests assembled in a old house. Douglas consents to read to the little group the whole story as it was written by the woman who was protagonist of the events (main narrator). The reader is faced with mysterious apparitions, but is divided between believing them and having the doubt that they are fantasies of a hysterical woman, frustrated in her hopeless love for the children's uncle. There are two interpretations of this story:
-it presents the normal reactions of people to supernatural evil thanks to the detailed descriptions of the ghosts given by the governess who has never seen the two former servants;
-there isn't evidence of the apparitions, because the governess is the only one who sees them, and the events are narrated by herself.