Quotes from The Turn of the Screw

Henry James ·  131 pages

Rating: (71.8K votes)


“No, no—there are depths, depths! The more I go over it, the more I see in it, and the more I see in it, the more I fear. I don’t know what I don’t see—what I don’t fear!”
― Henry James, quote from The Turn of the Screw


“Of course I was under the spell, and the wonderful part is that, even at the time, I perfectly knew I was. But I gave myself up to it; it was an antidote to any pain, and I had more pains than one.”
― Henry James, quote from The Turn of the Screw


“He was there or was not there: not there if I didn't see him.”
― Henry James, quote from The Turn of the Screw


“—his indescribable little air of knowing nothing in the world but love.”
― Henry James, quote from The Turn of the Screw


“Of course I was under the spell, and the wonderful part is that, even at the time, I perfectly knew I was.”
― Henry James, quote from The Turn of the Screw


“Make (the reader) think the evil, make him think it for himself, and you are released from weak specifications. My values are positively all blanks, save so far as an excited horror, a promoted pity, a created expertness... proceed to read into them more or less fantastic figures.”
― Henry James, quote from The Turn of the Screw


“I take up my own pen again - the pen of all my old unforgettable efforts and sacred struggles. To myself - today - I need say no more. Large and full and high the future still opens. It is now indeed that I may do the work of my life. And I will.”
― Henry James, quote from The Turn of the Screw


“There was nothing in the room the next minute but the sunshine and a sense that I must stay.”
― Henry James, quote from The Turn of the Screw


“The story had held us, round the fire, sufficiently breathless, but except the obvious remark that it was gruesome, as, on Christmas Eve in an old house, a strange tale should essentially be, I remember no comment uttered till somebody happened to say that it was the only case he had met in which such a visitation had fallen on a child.”
― Henry James, quote from The Turn of the Screw


“We were alone with the quiet day, and his little heart, dispossessed, had stopped.”
― Henry James, quote from The Turn of the Screw


“It's beyond everything. Nothing at all that I know touches it."
"For sheer terror?" I remember asking.
He seemed to say it was not so simple as that; to be really at a loss how to qualify it. He passed his hand over his eyes, made a little wincing grimace. "For dreadful — dreadfulness!"
"Oh, how delicious!" cried one of the women.”
― Henry James, quote from The Turn of the Screw


“The terrace and the whole place, the lawn and the garden beyond it, all I could see of the park, were empty with a great emptiness.”
― Henry James, quote from The Turn of the Screw


“All roads lead to Rome, and there were times when it might have struck us that almost every branch of study or subject of conversation skirted forbidden ground.”
― Henry James, quote from The Turn of the Screw


“It may be, of course, above all, that what suddenly broke into this gives the previous time a charm of stillness—that hush in which something gathers or crouches. The change was actually like the spring of a beast.”
― Henry James, quote from The Turn of the Screw


“I could only get on at all by taking "nature" into my confidence and my account, by treating my monstrous ordeal as a push in a direction unusual, of course, and unpleasant, but demanding, after all, for a fair front, only another turn of the screw of ordinary human virtue.”
― Henry James, quote from The Turn of the Screw


“The summer had turned, the summer had gone; the autumn had dropped upon Bly and had blown out half our lights. The place, with its gray sky and withered garlands, its bared spaces and scattered dead leaves, was like a theater after the performance--all strewn with crumpled playbills.”
― Henry James, quote from The Turn of the Screw


“I was a screen-- I was their protector. The more I saw, the less they would.”
― Henry James, quote from The Turn of the Screw


“To gaze into the depths of blue of the child's eyes and pronounce their loveliness a trick of premature cunning was to be guilty of a cynicism in preference to which I naturally preferred to abjure my judgment and, so far as might be, my agitation.”
― Henry James, quote from The Turn of the Screw


“I seemed to float not into clearness, but into a darker obscure, and within a minute there had come to me out of my very pity the appalling alarm of his perhaps being innocent. It was for the instant confounding and bottomless, for if he were innocent, what then on earth was I?”
― Henry James, quote from The Turn of the Screw


“She absolutely declined to be puzzled; she turned her eyes to the flame of the candle as if the question were as irrelevant, or at any rate as impersonal, as Mrs. Marcet or nine-times-nine.”
― Henry James, quote from The Turn of the Screw


“And if I wavered for the instant it was not with what I kept back.”
― Henry James, quote from The Turn of the Screw


“Odo ancora, mentre scrivo, l'intenso silenzio in cui si cessarono tutti i suoni della sera. Le cornacchie smisero di gracchiare nel cielo dorato e l’ora amica smarrì, per quell'orribile momento, tutta la sua voce. Ma non ci fu nessun altro cambiamento intorno a me, se cambiamento non era vedere con tanto singolare chiarezza. L’oro luccicava ancora nel cielo, l’aria era limpida e l’uomo che mi osservava da sopra i merli risaltava quanto un ritratto nella sua cornice. Ecco perché pensai, con straordinaria rapidità, a tutti coloro che egli avrebbe potuto essere e che non era. Ci fissammo attraverso lo spazio abbastanza a lungo perché potessi chiedermi ansiosamente chi fosse mai, e provare, dinanzi all'incapacità di rispondervi, uno sbigottimento che, a poco a poco, si faceva sempre più intenso.”
― Henry James, quote from The Turn of the Screw


“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.”
― Henry James, quote from The Turn of the Screw


“I don't do it!" I sobbed in despair; "I don't save or shield them! It's far worse than I dreamed—they're lost!" VIII”
― Henry James, quote from The Turn of the Screw


“THEY have the manners to be silent, and you, trusted as you are, the baseness to speak!”
― Henry James, quote from The Turn of the Screw


“It's all a mere mistake and a worry and a joke—and we'll go home as fast as we can!”
― Henry James, quote from The Turn of the Screw


“If Quint—on your remonstrance at the time you speak of—was a base menial, one of the things Miles said to you, I find myself guessing, was that you were another.”
― Henry James, quote from The Turn of the Screw


“He was absolutely, on this occasion, a living, detestable, dangerous presence.”
― Henry James, quote from The Turn of the Screw


About the author

Henry James
Born place: in New York, New York, The United States
Born date April 15, 1843
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