The Book and the Movie: The Haunting of Hill House | Shirley Jackson (1959) | The Haunting / Robert Wise (1963)


“I could live there all alone, she thought, slowing the car to look down the winding garden path to the
small blue front door with, perfectly, a white cat on the step. No one would ever find me there, either,
behind all those roses, and just to make sure I would plant oleanders by the road. I will light a fire in
the cool evenings and toast apples at my own hearth. I will raise white cats and sew white curtains
for the windows and sometimes come out of my door to go to the store to buy cinnamon and tea
and thread. People will come to me to have their fortunes told, and I will brew love potions for
sad maidens; I will have a robin…”

Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House, 1959


 “No physical danger exists,” the doctor said positively. “No ghost in all the long histories of ghosts
has ever hurt anyone physically. The only damage done is by the victim to himself. One cannot even
say that the ghost attacks the mind, because the mind, the conscious, thinking mind, is invulnerable;
in all our conscious minds, as we sit here talking, there is not one iota of belief in ghosts. Not one of
us, even after last night, can say the word ‘ghost’ without a little involuntary smile. No, the menace
of the supernatural is that it attacks where modern minds are weakest, where we have abandoned our
protective armor of superstition and have no substitute defense.Not one of us thinks rationally that
what ran through the garden last night was a ghost, and what knocked on the door was a ghost; and
yet there was certainly something going on in Hill House last night, and the mind’s instinctive
refuge—self-doubt—is eliminated. We cannot say, ‘It was my imagination,’ because three
other people were there too.”
“I could say,” Eleanor put in, smiling, “‘All three of you are in my imagination; none of this is real.’”
“If I thought you could really believe that,” the doctor said gravely, “I would turn you out of Hill
House this morning.

Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House, 1959

“Am I walking toward something I should be running away from?”
“You never know what you are going to want until you see it clearly.”
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“We live over in the town, six miles away.”
“Yes,” Eleanor said, remembering Hillsdale.
“So there won’t be anyone around if you need help.”
“I understand.”
“We couldn’t even hear you, in the night.”
“I don’t suppose-”
“No one could. No one lives any nearer than the town. No one else will come any nearer than that.”
“I know,” Eleanor said tiredly.
“In the night,” Mrs Dudley said, and smiled outright. “In the dark,” she said, and closed the door behind her.”
“Why do people want to talk to each other? I mean, what are the things
people always want to find out about other people?”
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“Nothing irrevocable had yet been spoken, but there was only the barest margin of safety left them;
each of them moving delicately along the outskirts of an open question, and, once spoken, such a
question – as “Do you love me?” – could never be answered or forgotten. They walked slowly,
meditating, wondering, and the path sloped down from their feet and they followed, walking side
by side in the most extreme intimacy of expectation; their feinting and hesitation done with, they
could only wait passively for resolution. Each knew, almost within a breath, what the other was
thinking and wanting to say; each of them almost wept for the other.”

“Let him be wise, or let me be blind; don’t let me, she hoped concretely,
don’t let me know too surely what he thinks of me.”

Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House, 1959



“It watches,” he added suddenly. “The house. It watches every move you make.”
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“Fear is the relinquishment of logic, the willing relinquishing of reasonable patterns. 
We yield to it or we fight it, but we cannot meet it halfway.”
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‘She wants her cup of stars.’

“Don’t do it, Eleanor told the little girl; insist on your cup of stars; once they have trapped you into
being like everyone else you will never see your cup of stars again; don’t do it; and the little girl
glanced at her, and smiled a little subtle, dimpling, wholly comprehending smile, and shook her
head stubbornly at the glass. Brave girl, Eleanor thought; wise, brave girl.”

“No, the menace of the supernatural is that it attacks where modern minds are weakest, where
we have abandoned our protective armor of superstition and have no substitute defense.”
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“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality.”
Robert Wise’s original screenplay for The Haunting (1963)

 The Haunting (1963)

Director: Robert Wise
Writers: Nelson Gidding (screenplay), Shirley Jackson (based on the novel: “The Haunting of Hill House”)
Stars: Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson
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“I wanted to write a book about ghosts, but I was perfectly prepared–I cannot emphasize this too strongly–I was perfectly prepared to keep those ghosts wholly imaginary. I was already doing a lot of splendid research reading all the books about ghosts I could get hold of, and particularly true ghost stories–so much so that it became necessary for me to read a chapter of Little Women every night before I turned out the light–and at the same time I was collecting pictures of houses, particularly odd houses, to see what I could find to make into a suitable haunted house. I read books of architecture and clipped pictures out of magazines and newspapers and learned about cornices and secret stairways and valances and turrets and flying buttresses and gargoyles and all kinds of things that people have done to inoffensive houses, and then I came across a picture in a magazine which really looked right. It was the picture of a house which reminded me vividly of the hideous building in New York; it had the same air of disease and decay, and if ever a house looked like a candidate for a ghost, it was this one. All that I had to identify it was the name of a California town, so I wrote to my mother, who has lived in California all her life, and sent her the picture, asking if she had any idea where I could get information about this ugly house. She wrote back in some surprise. Yes, she knew about the house, although she had not supposed that there were any pictures of it still around. My great-grandfather built it. It had stood empty and deserted for some years before it finally caught fire, and it was generally believed that that was because the people of the town got together one night and burned it down.
By then it was abundantly clear to me that I had no choice; the ghosts were after me. In case I had any doubts, however, I came downstairs a few mornings later and found a sheet of copy paper moved to the center of my desk, set neatly away from the general clutter. On the sheet of paper was written DEAD DEAD in my own handwriting. I am accustomed to making notes for books, but not in my sleep; I decided that I had better write the book awake, which I got to work and did.”

Shirley Jackson, “Experience and Fiction”

“When I first used to write stories and hide them away in my desk, I used to think that no one had ever been so lonely as I was, and I used to write about people all alone. Once I started a novel … but I never finished because I found out about insanity then and I used to write about lunatics after that. I thought I was insane and I would write about how the only sane people are the ones who are condemned as mad and how the whole world is cruel and foolish and afraid of people who are different.”

 Shirley Jackson 

1 thought on “The Book and the Movie: The Haunting of Hill House | Shirley Jackson (1959) | The Haunting / Robert Wise (1963)

  1. Shirley Jackson – ένας κριτικός την ονόμασε "Virginia Werewoolf"

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