The Haunting of Hill House

The Haunting of Hill House
Shirley Jackson

Just where is Hill House, anyway? Unless the town names mentioned in the early chapters, places like Hillsdale and Ashton, have some specific meaning, I don’t think Jackson ever says. And when do the events described take place? Presumably sometime in the 1950s (the book was published in 1959), but the house itself is a Victorian mummy. Dissociated from time and place like this the story takes on an archetypal quality, buttressed with heavy dollops of pop psychology that have not dated quite as well. The compression/echo chamber effect of the prose is carefully crafted to conceal as much as it reveals, and it’s all pretty obvious in its mechanics, but then so is its famous forebear The Turn of the Screw. Both are still works to be studied and enjoyed.

%d bloggers like this: