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The Beast in the Jungle

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  3,257 ratings  ·  287 reviews
Henry James, the master of psychological literature, is at it again disturbing readers with the story of a man who feels he might be missing something important in life -- a man who also has a secret, the unstated in his life now which will affect the future. The woman who loves him says it's "the sense of being kept for something rare and strange..." A complex and meaning ...more
Paperback, 48 pages
Published June 1st 2004 by Kessinger Publishing (first published 1903)
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3.62  · 
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 ·  3,257 ratings  ·  287 reviews

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Mike Puma
Feb 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013

Briefly; it’s a novella after all.

Apparently, enough time had lapsed after reading Proustitute’s fine review and Lee’s (perhaps, due to the good news of his new daughter) and Jesse’s, that I’d completely forgotten the story/novella’s subtext. All well and good. What remained was seeing three reviews for a short Henry James title, and it was a short title I was in need of; I will catch up on my 2013 reading goal, I will dammit. So, when I started reading this story, it wasn’t long before I was th

Feb 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Brian by: Proustitute
**** SPOILER ALERT **** (But please, before reading this review, invest the time in reading James's short story. You will be glad you did, regardless of whether you return to read the following)

In one of the best reviews I've ever read of a piece of fiction (Note: any review, not just a Goodreads review), friend Aubrey pens in her opening thoughts on Infinite Jest: "Real life is a pain. Real life is a bitch." Note the double use of the word "real", for it isn't just life that is a pain and a bit
James is my second favorite writer, after Proust, of course. The Beast in the Jungle is probably his most masterful tale—novella or short story, you decide—and it's one that I've read at least ten times. While many of my readings have been colored by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick's now canonical essay "The Beast in the Closet," this time around I read James's tale from an entirely new perspective.

And to me that's the most marvelous thing about writers like James: one never encounters the same text; one
Noa ☾
Mar 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
You said you had had from your earliest time, as the deepest thing within you, the sense of being kept for something rare and strange, possibly prodigious and terrible, that was sooner or later to happen to you, that you had in your bones the foreboding and the conviction of, and that would perhaps overwhelm you.

I absolutely loved this story (I read it for my English class where I have to analyze an extract).

⌛Henry James' style is so unique and although it took me a bit of time to get use
Stephen P
Nov 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Stephen by: Proustitute, his remarkable, enticing review
Shelves: henry-james
Sharing can be considered, moral, ethical noble. One exception is the sharing of an identity. Yet it can be accomplished in such a way that sets the two sharing it apart, above others. Their lives can be molded, hardened in a kiln, and for them provide a life’s meaning as long as no else knows. As long through the years they maintain their investment and invisibility; appear to others as cloaked in the same ordinariness as the passing throngs.

The shared trope of James’ Beast In The Jungle, is Jo
Lady Jane
Oct 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is truly an unforgettable psychological portrait. John Marcher, the protagonist, is re-acquainted with May Bartram, a woman he knew ten years earlier, who remembers his odd secret-- Marcher is seized with the belief that his life is to be defined by some catastrophic or spectacular event, lying in wait for him like a "beast in the jungle." Miss Bartram is stupefied by this, but does nothing to make him think that she thinks him odd for such a belief. In fact, she takes him very seriously an ...more
Feb 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read the eBook version on my iPhone accompanied by the 133 BPM heart monitor heartbeat of my unborn daughter as my wife a few feet from me dozed after umpteenth hours of slow labor. Decided to read it because the hardback book I'm reading isn't backlit and they've dimmed the lights in our room. This was, therefore, a first read distracted by several nurses, a kindly midwife wearing a lightweight welder-like face visor, and an anesthesiologist. Not exactly read with morning coffee, or while libam ...more
Casey Merritt
Oct 26, 2010 rated it did not like it
This is a story that is essentially about nothing. I don't mean to say that all stories are somehow about nothing, I quite literally mean that this story is about nothing. It has a frame of course, because then it would not be a story, but the frame is that it is about a man, Marcher, who does nothing with his life. He believes that some great catastrophe will happen to him, and to avoid it he essentially stops living life. He feels passionate about nothing, and while he loves himself a great de ...more
Luís C.
The Beast in the Jungle is a story about a man who believes in fate, most particularly his own: It isn't a matter as to which I can choose, I can decide for a change. It isn't one as to which there can be a change. It's in the lap of the gods. One's in the hands of one's law there one is. Arguably, due to Marcher's fate turning out to be the opposite of what he expects, James could be said to be mocking the pretensions of his protagonist. Is his conviction about the specialness of his fate the f ...more
The concept was interesting and I enjoyed how unlikable both of the characters were, but, in the end, the stiff, over-done writing made the prose extremely difficult to read. I wouldn't have finished it if I didn't have to read it for school.
Sep 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a lovely little novella!
Nothing I would expect with a title like this.
Sometimes - many times - the true beasts lie within us. Impalpable, unconscious, but always somewhat tormenting.
Ivana Books Are Magic
Nov 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is the stuff Greek tragedies are made of. Potent, beautiful and heart-breaking! This is a story about a man who lives in anticipation of something terrible that is to come, but when it happens he misses it. A woman, his best friend, warns him of it but it's too late. Could I see the ending? Yes, I most certainly could but somehow it didn't spoil the enjoyment of this story one bit.

To a modern mind, The Beast In the Jungle might seem overblown, too emotional and not very convincing but lucki
A Wondrous Bookshelf
Aug 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics
Oh, how scared I was to read Henry James. In fact, I have always been so put off by the fear of his difficult English that when I finally gave in I chose a novella. The Beast in the Jungle is perhaps one of the saddest books I've read. After you get used to the difficult prose--and by that I mean having to re-read a sentence several times. The story itself is extremely sad. I was also quite shocked at how relevant this story is to this day.
This is the story of John Marcher, the protagonist, and
Roy Lotz
Oct 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
The reason I opened this book was because I needed a break from Swann’s Way . Proust’s writing, however beautiful, is tiring; and so I decided that a change would be in order. At the very least, I figured, I would be rejuvenated from the break, and able to plunge back into Proust’s masterpiece, recharged. I could not possibly have picked a worse book for this task.

James’ sentences, though falling short of Proustian proportions, are no easier on the brain. Remember that old cell-phone game, Snak
Natalie Monroe
The writing's so dense, I might as well be reading a brick wall.

I like the last few pages, but that's it.
Jim Leckband
Nov 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"A bird in the hand is worth two beasts in the jungle" is what John Marcher finally realizes at the tomb of May Bartram.
That  Guy
Sep 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
This story, to me, is a tale of wasted life and potential, much like the book itself. It is the story of two individuals who can not communicate, and it is this inability that draws them together. The drawn out sentences, useless descriptions, never ending metaphors and similes, serve almost as a resemblance to the wasted life, and conversations between the two characters themselves. John Marcher, a man whose ego is so large it makes him blind to the world around him, is gripped with the fear th ...more
Andrew Pessin
Apr 05, 2012 rated it it was ok
boy, what a lot of words to say so little. i've never gotten the henry james thing. this long story (novella?) has a pretty ridiculous premise, and strikes me as extremely overblown emotionally. or at least i think it is, given how hard it is to plow one's way through james's endless sentences with their innumerable sub-clauses. don't get me wrong: i like words as much as the next guy. but my brain is too small to handle them in more than, say, 35 or 40-word chunks.
I wasn't sure about this novella at first as it was just nothing like I expected and to me this wasn't a good thing. I wasn't entirely sure what was going on but a few pages in when the dialogue started upon the introduction of May Bartram I really started to understand the title of the book and the whole purpose - waiting for the 'beast' to pounce and in the meantime contemplating in what form the 'beast' will take.

It was a short read, only taking me a couple of hours all in. I have to be hone
Feb 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: queer, asexuality
Elizabeth Hanna Hanson has written an excellent essay arguing for an ace reading of this novella-- "Towards an Asexual Narrative Structure." Tangles with Sedgwick's classic queer reading.

I will read this again and again. Need to read The Bostonians, anyone want to read with me?
Jan 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
If only all bachelors aged 26 and older would read this...the world would be a different place indeed.
Jan 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A masterpiece -- As revealing as King Henry could get.
Maria Nicolaou
May 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I don't usually include the novellas or short stories I read in my Goodreads lists because they are not what one would strictly call a "book" (James' novella is about 50 pages long). But I couldn't help adding this gem here accompanied by a review which, I hope, will do justice to its repressed (homosexual) nuances that make the story one of the most interesting and gripping stories I ever read in the first place. Indeed, one of those stories to which one is to return again and again, almost obs ...more
Sep 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
While James' style can be rigid and damn near petrified, he makes up for it with a wondrous portrait of psychological horror. showing us that one of the scariest monsters in the world is the one that resides within: the ego. this, a monster that feeds off of insecurity, self-doubt and an unyielding desire to be loved. this villian that lives within and can take innocuous yearnings (the desire to be unique) and transform them into beasts that lurk inside the jungle of the mind - waiting. the best ...more
Katherine (
OH MY GOD, this story. THIS STORY. I am sobbing. It is beautiful and heartbreaking and I had to read it through twice to fully absorb all of its greatness.

At first I thought James Marcher was a murderer. Then I thought he was gay. It took me a little bit but I realized it's just that he's terrified of pretty much everything and doesn't really live life. And when his source of life, May, is gone forever, he realizes that the "beast in the jungle" was not really a beast, but something in himself
Julie Rylie
At first this book bored me to hell, you are totally expecting something different from the title "the beast and the jungle", and then you get two weird human beings having strange conversations about "the mistery of their lives" and how to figure it out.

And the book goes on with those strange conversations sometimes allusive to "a jungle" and a "beast" as in a weird metaphore that will make you read the whole book and then finally understand what that was about, because until then it was just
Phil Mc
Apr 30, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Moving? Well, the narrative is reasonably clever and certainly created its share of pathos when I think back; however, James' obfuscatory sentence structure turns what should be a touching and poignant novella into a heavy slog through clause after clause of unnecessary information which serves only to obscure the intial point of the sentence.

This could and should have been greater than it is. A real disappointment but still well worth wading through for the tragic, human denouement.
You may read online at DailyLit.

Opening lines:
What determined the speech that startled him in the course of their encounter scarcely matters, being probably but some words spoken by himself quite without intention—spoken as they lingered and slowly moved together after their renewal of acquaintance.
I know the style is dense and unique, a style that demands the reader's full concentration. But this novella, a portrait of a man's self-obsession leading to deep psychological tragedy, is so real, so human as to be truly a deeply moving cautionary tale for real grown-ups.
Jan 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels-english
i had read this before, many, many years ago...before I stopped reading I fully knew the outcome. Justly deemed a masterpiece, it survived a second reading.
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Henry James, OM, son of theologian Henry James Sr., brother of the philosopher and psychologist William James and diarist Alice James, was an American-born author, one of the founders and leaders of a school of realism in fiction. He spent much of his life in England and became a British subject shortly before his death. He is primarily known for a series of major novels in which he portrayed the ...more
“I’ll watch with you.” 9 likes
“It was the truth, vivid and monstrous, that all the while he had waited the wait was itself his portion.” 9 likes
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