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The Beast in the Jungle and Other Stories (Dover Thrift Editions) Paperback – Unabridged, April 23, 1993


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Editorial Reviews

Review

Short story by Henry James that first appeared in The Better Sort (1903). Despite its sluggish pace, implausible dialogue, and excessively ornate style, it is a suspenseful story of despair, with powerful images of fire, ice, and hunting. The Beast in the Jungle concerns John Marcher, a neurotic egoist obsessed with the lurking feeling that something incredible is to happen to him. This impending fate has a predatory quality, like "a crouching beast in the jungle." Consumed with anticipation and dread, Marcher is unable to reciprocate the love of his long-suffering companion, May Bartram. She comes to see his fate but is unable to make him understand it before she dies. While visiting her grave one year later, Marcher suddenly realizes that his terrible fate was precisely his inability to comprehend her love for him. -- The Merriam-Webster Encylopedia of Literature

From the Back Cover

James's subtle mastery of the art of fiction is nowhere more evident than in "The Beast in the Jungle," regarded by many as his greatest achievement in short fiction, a gripping portrait of a man alienated from life and love. The author's uncanny ability to communicate the inner lives of his characters is also richly evident in "The Jolly Corner" and "The Altar of the Dead," two superbly crafted tales that explore the complex interlacings of loss, love, and the ever-present past in the lives of their protagonists. Note. Original Dover (1993) selection of three stories reprinted unabridged from Vol. 17 of the New York Edition of Henry James's works published by Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1909.
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Product Details

  • Series: Dover Thrift Editions
  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; Unabridged edition (April 23, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486275523
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486275529
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 5 x 5.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #461,179 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Henry James (1843-1916), the son of the religious philosopher Henry James Sr. and brother of the psychologist and philosopher William James, published many important novels including Daisy Miller, The Wings of the Dove, The Golden Bowl, and The Ambassadors.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By J. Mullin on October 23, 2001
Format: Paperback
Henry James' Beast in the Jungle is surely not for everyone, there is little action in the novella (I suppose that is the point actually) and the title could give readers the wrong idea. John Marcher, the protagonist, is re-aquainted 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."
May decides to take a flat nearby in London, and to spend her days with Marcher curiously awaiting what fate has in stall for John. Of course Marcher is a self-centered egoist, believing that he is precluded from marrying so that he does not subject his wife to his "spectacular fate". So he takes May to the theatre and invites her to an occasional dinner, while not allowing her to really get close to him for her own sake. As he sits idly by and allows the best years of his life to pass, he takes May down as well, until the denouement wherein he learns that the great misfortune of his life was to throw it away, and to ignore the love of a good woman, based upon his preposterous sense of foreboding.
James' language can be a bit stilted at times, and some of the dialogue may strike modern readers as out-dated. However James was a master of the novella format, and with The Beast in the Jungle he has written an engrossing psychological drama, which left me speechless at the very end. Pick up a collection that also includes The Turn of the Screw and Daisy Miller if you haven't already read them, they are accessible (more so than some of James' full length novels) and great examples of the format's potential.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By James R. Ball on February 25, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Several months ago I was sitting in a restaurant enjoying drinks with a girl from my past who I had all but forgotten and had recently randomly encountered again. Over the course of catching up and revealing forgotten moments she said this story reminded her of me... I took it at face value and bought the 4 dollar book... It took me several days to read, (I'm a product of the american education system...) and was astounded by how relevant the experience was to our relationship. Granted, ours is an incredibly unique and personal situation, this story was well worth the read and granted me a great deal of perspective on my own experiences.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By "hermia1596" on August 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
Henry James has always been one of my favorite writers even though many readers are put off by his very stylized writing. When I first read "The Beast in the Jungle", I must admit that I was completely blown away by its powerful message. This is a type of mystery that never loses its power although you already know the ending. There is no way to describe certain moments in the story that give us a glimpse into the very soul of these characters that manage to become real to us throughout this story. Marcher's incredible egotism blinds him from seeing the truth in his life and thereby destroying not only his own life, but also destroying the life of the woman who could have helped him learn how to live before it was too late. Henry James was a master writer and to quote the words of T.S. Eliot: "Henry James is a difficult writer for English readers because he is American, difficult for Americans because he is European, and I ignore if he is possible for other readers." Yes, Henry James can be a challenge for many readers, but the reward is all worth the effort.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Alan Nelson, No Chance Meetings Books & Odd Bits (nelson@sicembears.com) on April 17, 1998
Format: Paperback
The story that lurks in this ornate writing from another, more embellished time will seize you with its power. And this story is not for the weak minded or those whose spirits shatter at the slightest confrontation. You, like John Marcher, will have the uncomfortable feeling that something Terrible, & Permanent is going to happen to you from reading this story. And you're right, but you don't know how right. The fate is something far worse than you think. Don't find yourself in a graveyard weeping over your May. You've been warned. This story is not dead paper and ink, or electrons over the internet. It waits for You to Enter The Jungle. And it is far better for some not to enter this Jungle, and be awakened to the Beast that even now watches you and prepares to leap.
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Format: Paperback
Every so often, we need to find some nice, creepy stories to curdle the blood a bit. But sometimes we want stories written well and stories for grown-ups, not the common stuff of horror films or Stephen King books. And we need look no further than this slim volume, which contains three stories of about a hundred pages in total, all written by the masterful story-teller Henry James: “The Altar of the Dead”, “The Beast in the Jungle” and the Jolly Corner”. The first is about a man who obsessively lights altar candles for “his Dead” and misses out on the life around him; the second is about a man who misspends his life in dread of an evil event that he has a premonition will befall him; and the third is about a man who seeks out, and finds, the ghostly self he might have become had he lived his life differently.

All three stories are about an unhealthy obsession, an unwholesome idée fixe, which leads a man to stray from a sensible and virtuous to an evil or foolish path. The stories tell us much about the human capacity for folly, delusion, error and sin and, though they are written to amuse, they are also meant to chill, even horrify, and instruct. These stories are rather old-fashioned, and will feel very dated to a fan of contemporary fiction, but their very old-fashionedness gives them a great charm, I believe. Many writers of James’ era dabbled in occult stories, and not infrequently. Edgar Allen Poe was the master and first practitioner of the genre, but several other authors of classical literature tried their hands at this, including Wilkie Collins (whose Woman in White is a masterpiece of that time period and genre), Edith Wharton and even, rarely and experimentally, W. Somerset Maugham.

A word bout James’ style. It is famously ornate and rather convoluted.
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