The Black Mass 12: The Jolly Corner by Henry James

Join us on Fri­day at a lit­tle after 12 noon or 4pm Pacif­ic time (8pm and mid­night in the UK) for anoth­er episode in the land­mark radio dra­ma series The Black Mass, cre­at­ed by the late Erik Bauers­feld and his col­leagues at the Paci­fi­ca radio sta­tion KPFA in Berke­ley, Cal­i­for­nia, over fifty years ago. In 30 chill­ing tales of mys­tery, imag­i­na­tion and the human mind, The Black Mass brings you some of literature’s most haunt­ing sto­ries, by mas­ters of the craft — many of whom are best-known in oth­er fields.

Note that the episode will not start until the track play­ing at the top of the hour has fin­ished, so the actu­al start time of the episode will be a few min­utes after the hour.

Today: 12: “The Jol­ly Cor­ner” by Hen­ry James

“The Jol­ly Cor­ner” was pub­lished first in the mag­a­zine The Eng­lish Review of Decem­ber 1908. One of James’ most not­ed ghost sto­ries, “The Jol­ly Cor­ner” describes the adven­tures of Spencer Bry­don as he prowls the now-emp­ty New York house where he grew up. He encoun­ters a “sen­sa­tion more com­plex than had ever before found itself con­sis­tent with sanity”.

Hen­ry James OM (15 April 1843 – 28 Feb­ru­ary 1916) was an Amer­i­can author. He is regard­ed as a key tran­si­tion­al fig­ure between lit­er­ary real­ism and lit­er­ary mod­ernism and is con­sid­ered by many to be among the great­est nov­el­ists in the Eng­lish language.

He is best known for a num­ber of nov­els deal­ing with the social and mar­i­tal inter­play between émi­gré Amer­i­cans, Eng­lish peo­ple, and con­ti­nen­tal Euro­peans. Exam­ples of such nov­els include The Por­trait of a Lady, The Ambas­sadors, and The Wings of the Dove. His lat­er works were increas­ing­ly exper­i­men­tal. In describ­ing the inter­nal states of mind and social dynam­ics of his char­ac­ters, James often made use of a style in which ambigu­ous or con­tra­dic­to­ry motives and impres­sions were over­laid or jux­ta­posed in the dis­cus­sion of a char­ac­ter’s psy­che. For their unique ambi­gu­i­ty, as well as for oth­er aspects of their com­po­si­tion, his late works have been com­pared to impres­sion­ist painting.

His novel­la The Turn of the Screw has gar­nered a rep­u­ta­tion as the most analysed and ambigu­ous ghost sto­ry in the Eng­lish lan­guage and remains his most wide­ly adapt­ed work in oth­er media. He also wrote a num­ber of oth­er high­ly regard­ed ghost sto­ries and is con­sid­ered one of the great­est mas­ters of the field.

The Black Mass art­work was cre­at­ed by Ter­ry Lightfoot.