for the past few days i've been reading henry james' The Turn of the Screw. you can find the entire text at the given link if you want to read it online.
this is a mesmerizing tale of ghosts, manipulation, paranoia, intrigue.. in essence, it's a fantastic suspense novel!
however, here's my problem: the english itself is so outdated, and some of the phrases are, at least at first, hard to understand. essentially, the english is very precise and remote. there's talk of feelings, but they are communicated in such a calculated fashion. of course, this is part of the narrator's voice, but it is so antiquated.
i guess i feel there are three things that can be somewhat separated in this text: the theme, the mood, and the vocabulary. i really feel like the theme and mood could be modernized and wholly understood, without losing much in the way of the story. the story certainly doensn't hinge on a lot of 19th century gotchas which you just need to know.
this reminds me of two translations of Albert Camus' The Stranger. one of the translations was from the 50s and all stodgy and awkward, in my opinion. the other translation was written quite recently, in the late 90s i believe, and it was so readable (amazon link). the story came alive for me.
why isn't such "translation" done for old english texts? i think someone could read james' text, and modernize it. anyone who wanted to could read the original... but the translation, if it could hold what many consider the key parts of the book, would probably be wildly successful at bringing more new readers to james.
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