‘The Beast in the Jungle’ by Henry James

I was never a big fan of Henry. I mean, I loved the first three pages of ‘Portrait of a Lady’, but never could get much farther than that.

This might be why I started reading ‘The Beast in the Jungle’: it’s short.

However, short doesn’t mean concise and I found myself drifting off in so many pages, where I could barely understand where the sentence started, let alone where it finished.

It’s been quite a task, but finally I got to the end and it was so worth it.

It’s basically a novel about expectation and that’s where Henry shows his greatness: you don’t just read about expectation, you feel it.

Most of the books, they promise you something in the beginning, then they build up the story with action and events. Henry builds up the story with expectation, nothing else.

It’s like walking down a path in the woods (or in the jungle). You know something is watching you from the branches, but you can’t see it. You keep on walking, waiting for that something to show itself, or to attack you. And while you wait, what happens? Nothing. Yet, that time is not empty, but filled with expectation.

This is very easy to explain and in a film you might even spend a couple of minutes torturing the audience with this expectation. To write an entire short story only out of it? If you thought it madness you’d be very much right.

Until you read ‘The Beast in the Jungle’. A brilliant short story about waiting. Because you know that something big will happen in the end (or will it?).

 

Check this book out on Goodreads, or buy a copy from Amazon.

You can also find a free ebook (utterly safe) on the Project Gutenberg website.

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9 Comments

  1. I struggle with Henry James too. I tried What Maisie Knew for the same reason you tried this – it was short – but I still didn’t get through it. Maybe this could be the one James I finally finish – I’ll give it a go!

  2. I love The turn of the screw. It is short. Perhaps it one of the best short stories ever written. However, this afternoon I had a stroll into the wood. I wanted to search for the deer my uncle had seen in the morning. I was full of expectation. There were eyes everywhere. Obviously, I couldn’t find it. But there were birds and trees. I came back home with a strange feeling. I wasn’t disappointed at all. Perhaps we do not search for a deer, we search for expectation. Definitely, noe I want to read this story by James… 😊

    1. That’s the story. Read the story. Read the story now.

      I think I have The Turn of the Screw somewhere around. If not, I’ll find it. It will be my next Henry James Adventure! 🙂

      Now go and read the story.

      1. ZAAAAO BAMBY! Ok, I’ll go to the British bookshop as soon as possible. I am now in the middle of a new adventure: I want to go from Offenbach to Frankfurt by bike!! And you know… my bike was bought in 1963. I dont’ know this for sure but it could have been assembled before the Cuban Revolution… :-/

        Have a look at my blog: you’ll find a review about The turn of the screw. I really LOVE IT…. LOVE IT…. LOVE IT!!!

        Hugs! Briggy

      2. I remember that review… but I will read it again! And then head straight to the British bookshop… yeah, well, maybe to the library, or someone might get angry at me with all the books I am bringing home…
        Offenbach to Frankfurt? That’s lovely! But I see your point. Maybe put your rollerblades in the backpack, just in case something goes wrong… 😛

    1. Will do! Edith Wharton just made it to the top of my tbr list!
      I will definitely enjoy that. I have read Kate Chopin already, and that was really inspiring – this as well is about female condition and shackles.

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