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Postcolonial Text is a refereed open access journal that publishes articles, book reviews, interviews, poetry and fiction on postcolonial, transnational, and indigenous themes.
Let me start by asking two questions to which the voluminous scholarship on Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw has seemingly not paid full attention. First, from where does Flora learn her shocking language? Second, in a tale whose details are inspected from as many angles as critics can devise, what weight might we give to the Indian origin of the two children who provide an extra turn to the storytelling screw? My argument here is that a postcolonial reading of the text can provide us with answers. In teasing out intertextual uses of the details regarding the children’s Indian origin, we can arrive at a fresh appreciation of the links between James and Rudyard Kipling and, by extension, colonial discourses about the figure of the precocious child. In particular, I read young Miles and little Flora against Kipling’s Kim (1901) and Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden (1911).