As a text for my class ‘Communicating the Self’ this year, we are focusing for a week on Henry James’ The Beast in the Jungle. After studying last year his Daisy Miller, I was like ‘ugh, this is gonna be boring’, but man!!! I was wrong. This short story stirred something in me. I thought it was incredible.
Here is a short excerpt that caught my attention and caused me to read with a greater admiration for it:
“Isn’t what you describe perhaps but the expectation – or at any rate the sense of danger, familiar to so many people – of falling in love?”
John Marcher wondered. “Did you ask me that before?”
“No – I wasn’t so free and easy then. But it’s what strikes me now.”
“Of course,” he said after a moment, “it strikes you. Of course it srikes me. Of course what’s in store for me may be no more than that. The only thing is,” he went on,”that I think if it had been that I should by this time know.”
“Do you mean because you’ve been in love?” And then as he but looked at her in silence: “You’ve been in love, and it hasn’t meant such a cataclysm, hasn’t proved the great affair?”
“Here I am, you see. It hasn’t been overwhelming.”
“Then it hasn’t been love,” said May Bertram.
This passage resounds beautifully with the end of the story, but I won’t ruin it for you. Go and read it yourself.