Tuesday, 9 April 2013
GHOSTS AND THE BOSTONIANS
Crime fiction is my favourite genre but it's good to get away from it from to time and try something new so I'm really enthusiastic about one of the books my WEA group will study this term The Turn of the Screw a novella by Henry James.
This 19th century ghost story was a good choice by my literature students because there is so much depth to it, so much to explore and so much to work out about the characters, who they are, what their roles are and what they are trying to show and tell us about the era in which they lived.
The pace of the plot aches it's so slow but it's worth persevering to the end because with James the reward really is in the effort. The Bostonians, which I studied back in my college days, was really hard going but the more I got into it the clearer it became and the more I enjoyed it.
It isn't so much about solving the mystery behind the story when reading James, but unravelling the enigma of the author's style. The Turn of the Screw has so much punctuation, every few words, for example; sometimes, it seems, he is deliberately slowing the pace - and throws in a dash, or two, for good measure - as if the paragraph isn't overloaded already; it's like walking across a room, and tripping up every few steps but, perhaps, he must want us to stand and look, or to be diverted from seeing something he doesn't want to show us yet.
Fascinating stuff and not least the story itself about a young governess who arrives to look after two children and begins to see strange apparitions in an old country house with a past.
The second book for study chosen by students is The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, The Murder at Road Hill House, by Kate Summerscale. Based on a true story, I've seen the TV series which is due to return. It's likely to coincide with the start the book and it will be useful to compare this literary character with his screen adaptation.
The course on Tuesday mornings runs in Boston, Lincolnshire, at Fydell House which is a lovely building that dates back to the 18th century and is a perfect backdrop to the books we're looking at. Coincidentally, the building has it's own links to the Bostonians of Massachusetts. It's American Room was dedicated to them by Joseph P. Kennedy Senior - the father to future President John F - when he visited the home town of the Pilgrim Fathers.
If you live in the area and want to join the literature group then drop in and you'll be most welcome. I hope to run a creative writing course there as well so if you want more information on that then feel free to get in touch with either me or Fydell House for more details.