The Haunting of Henry James: Jealous Ghosts, Affinities, and The Others
In recent years scholarship on Henry James has been enriched by the influence the ‘master’ of the turn-of-the-century ‘Art of Fiction’ has exerted specifically on the neo-Victorian imagination. As Cora Kaplan (2007, p. 65) has noted, the genre of biofiction has had particular resonance: Emma Tennant’s Felony (2002), Cólm Toíbin’s The Master (2004), and David Lodge’s Author, Author (2004) all invest in what John Freedman (1998, p. 1) has called ‘the moment of Henry James’ (and Lodge more recently conceptualized as ‘The Year of Henry James’)1 in order to retrace, recreate, and refract the multiple personae of a writer whose experimentation with issues of authorship, identity, and subjectivity reflects central literary and critical preoccupations of the turn of the millennium. This essay examines four different instances of the creative adaptation not of ‘the author’ James himself but of his most influential, ‘authoritative’, novella, The Turn of the Screw (1898): in the medium of the gothic tale (Joyce Carol Oates’s ‘Accursed Inhabitants of the House of Bly’, 1994), the litcrit campus thriller (A. N. Wilson’s A Jealous Ghost, 2005), the neo-Victorian lesbian gothic (Sarah Waters’s Affinity, 1999), and supernatural film (Alejandro Amenábar’s The Others, 2001). Each text adds another ‘turn’ to James’s exploration of the imagination’s ability to shape reality, and in so doing engages with Jean Baudrillard’s concept of the ‘hyperreal’: the intense psychological authenticity simulacra assume in the mind.
KeywordsOriginal Emphasis Potential Child Abuse Frame Narrative Order Simulation Creative Adaptation
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