This Dollopween is dedicated to my 11th grade English teacher. Mrs. Jerry Berry’s 81st birthday is October 26th, and she is still fabulous. In North Carolina, at least when I was comin’ up, 11th grade English was American literature. I was Mrs. Berry’s Weird Girl.
What that means is that I (along with Best Friend @Joshua, no surprise) was always chosen to read the strangest parts. See, to study plays, Mrs. Berry thought they were best experienced aloud. So guess who was “just perfect” for Laura in The Glass Menagerie, or Miss Abby in Arsenic and Old Lace, etc.? Name any crazy bitch in American theater, any Tennessee Williams kook, I read her part aloud, but only after Mrs. Berry bounced around at the front of the room extolling my eccentricity, and my peers snickered, yet again. And yes, Josh would read the male part. Yep, yep.
So, how does Mrs. Berry relate to The Turn of the Screw (1898)?
We as a class didn’t want to read it, at all, and we were vocal about it after taking a look-see at the Gothic language. So she made a deal with us. She told us that she would explain the truth behind the plot (ghosts v. insanity) to us if we promised to rigorously read it on time.
We did. And she told us the truth while bouncing around on the balls of her feet, as she always did, which was: “Nobody really knows James’ intent, it’s all a huge literary mystery, up for readers’ interpretation. Next, A Streetcar Named Desire. Carla, I think you be just perfect–”
We almost rioted. She had punked us. We kinda loved her for it. And yes, I read Blanche DuBois.
So I wished this bundle of literature-loving energy happy birthday on Facebook (yep) and promised to tell that story, and to Dollopween Turn of the Screw for her birthday.
There are many, many movie versions of this novel, not many are good. You have been warned. The best of the heap is Deborah Kerr in The Innocents (1961). The very best inspired-by retelling/reimaging is The Others (2001). The Others is one of my very favorite movies, it is incredibly eerie.
two different young adult retellings:
flipped (from another POV): Flora, by Gail Godwin
study of The Turn of the Screw: Florence and Giles, by John Harding
Oh, by the by, I did read Abigail in The Crucible. And I rocked that malignant bitch.
Happy birthday, Jerry Berry. It is thanks to you that I read Annabel Lee well. I am proud to be one of your Weird Girls.