Read The Beast in the Jungle and Other Stories by Henry James Shane Weller Online

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Regarded by many as James's greatest achievement in short fiction, "The Beast in the Jungle" is a portrait of a man alienated from life and love with a secret neither he nor James can talk about. "The Jolly Corner" and "The Altar of the Dead" are two tales that explore the complex interlacings of loss, love and the ever-present past in the lives of their protagonists. ...

Title : The Beast in the Jungle and Other Stories
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ISBN : 9780486275529
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 101 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Beast in the Jungle and Other Stories Reviews

  • Orsodimondo
    2018-11-24 22:48

    IL SENSO DI UNA FINESi può vivere tutta la vita nell’attesa di un evento che la cambi?È quello che succede al protagonista di questo racconto, John Marcher: o, meglio, quello che John Marcher lascia succedere.Eugène Delacroix:.In questo racconto si narra di un’attesa lunga una vita, e, nell’attesa, non succede assolutamente nulla, se non, appunto, l’attesa dell’evento (la bestia nella giungla). Quale sia questo evento non è chiaro, lo si può intuire. James ci gira parecchio intorno, senza volercelo spiegare chiaramente: John Marcher, e la sua amica e coprotagonista May Bartram ne parlano, se lo rimpallano, ne alludono, sembrano volercelo confessare, ma non succede, James e i suoi due personaggi restano vaghi.Marguerite Duras ha adattato per il teatro il testo di James.Se non che, sul finire del racconto, May dice che è già accaduto, l’evento è passato e già finito, solo che Marcher non se n’è accorto (beffa su beffa: aspetti tutta la vita qualcosa che non conosci, passano gli anni e continui ad aspettare, nell’attesa diventi vecchio, e poi scopri che è già successo, ma tu non sai cos’è!).Neppure il lettore se ne è accorto, in un paio d’occasioni ha avuto un sospetto, ma non può esserne sicuro, non ha prove.La madre di tutte le attese: “Il deserto dei Tartari”.Sarà che questo Marcher è un tomo non troppo sveglio, men che meno sensibile: all’amica ammalata che si avvicina chiaramente alla morte (un morbo del sangue), continua a chiedere senza il minimo tatto se sappia qualcosa di quella cosa che li ha tenuti vicini per tutta la vita, se ora sappia quale sia la bestia.E qui, confesso, ho sorriso: alle spalle di John, forse anche di James, e ho compianto May che ha davvero buttato la sua vita dietro a un uomo mediocre.Jacques Perrin, protagonista del magnifico film di Valerio Zurlini, 1976.Chiara la ‘lezione’ da trarre: una vita passata nell’attesa è una vita sprecata. Le cose e la gente passano intorno e accanto senza toccarci davvero o lasciare traccia su di noi.Avviene perché non si sa amare, non si sa capire il bene che si ha vicino. Siamo in presenza di un uomo, John Marcher, in cui ogni passione è spenta prima ancora d’essere accesa. Se John avesse saputo cogliere l’occasione sotto forma di un’amicizia preziosa che avrebbe potuto essere amore, se avesse saputo amare May come si intuisce lei lo abbia amato senza confessarlo (hanno sprecato la vita in due?), la vita di John sarebbe stata ben diversa, non sarebbe trascorsa aspettando che i tartari si presentino dal deserto.Il tempo della vita.Alla fine John capisce che la morte prematura di May, la sua amica e confidente preziosissima, gli lascia un’assenza incolmabile, gli cambia la vita. Ed è proprio questo l’evento che invece di aspettare avrebbe dovuto evitare. È proprio questo il senso della fine.Si tratta di un racconto molto famoso, da qualcuno considerato il migliore fra tutti quelli scritti da James. Io continuo a preferire il James romanziere.

  • Xenja
    2018-11-11 00:28

    Quattro racconti lunghi scritti in epoche diverse e presentati in ordine cronologico, illustrano perfettamente quella che secondo me è la parabola di James: tanto è fresco e brillante, semplice e geniale il primo racconto - scritto in gioventù, come Washington square, Ritratto di signora, L'americano, Daisy Miller, Il carteggio Aspern, tutti i suoi capolavori - tanto è sottile, tortuoso, prolisso, sofisticato ma anche incomprensibile, puro virtuosismo letterario fine a se stesso benché di elegantissima scrittura, l'ultimo racconto che dà il nome alla raccolta - proprio come i romanzi scritti in vecchiaia, Le ali della colomba, La coppa d'oro, Gli ambasciatori. Io la penso così.

  • John Pistelli
    2018-12-05 21:36

    I took up this volume as Halloween approached and I realized I had never read James’s second most famous ghost story, “The Jolly Corner.” (I love James, but his most famous ghost story, the novella The Turn of the Screw, has always struck me as a bit of a gimmick, a work written to order for a syllabus on literary interpretation.) Nor had I read “The Altar of the Dead,” also collected here; and while I had read the collection’s middle story, “The Beast in the Jungle,” I cannot claim to have understood it.These three stories belong to James’s later period: “The Altar of the Dead” is from 1895 (the disastrous year of Guy Domville), “The Beast in the Jungle” from 1903 and “The Jolly Corner” from 1908. The prose in this volume accordingly grows more involuted and periphrastic and vague, James’s late style being a vast effort at artful evasion. (I do not admire the notion adopted by many of the modernists that their styles were tending toward some absolute uniqueness, untouched by reality. I prefer the discoveries of their middle period, when their styles developed under the novel pressures of their themes, with form and content inseparable: I like Ulysses better than Finnegans Wake, Mrs. Dalloway better than The Waves, Molloy better than “Ping”—and The Portrait of a Lady better than The Wings of the Dove.)These three tales are all one story, really: a man turns aside from the course of normative life—family, business—and develops a monomania or obsession with something absent—a dead loved one, a mysterious destiny, his own past self; in this bizarre worship of the vanished, he is joined and goaded by a woman who is not quite a lover but who fills something like a lover’s role. All three chart the peril and potential of a life consecrated to something other than the natural or the conventional. Because this “something” remains yet to be realized in a social reality that is bound to custom or else has vanished with the potential of an individual’s evanescent youth, it is often said that all James’s stories are ghost stories, haunted by the elusive possibility of a richer existence that never materializes in the present, just as his increasingly unreadable prose never fully brings meaning before the reader.“The Altar of the Dead,” being the earliest of the stories in this slim volume, is perhaps my favorite. It concerns a man named Stransom who devotes himself to a shrine to his dead loved ones; soon he is accompanied in this morbid devotion by a woman who becomes “the priestess of his altar.” They seem happy in their two-person cult until Stransom discovers that all her mourning is directed at his own late ex-friend, Acton Hague, who appears to have cruelly used her sexually, in spite of which she has forgiven him. The quarrel over whether or not to memorialize Hague divides them until each realizes that they have nothing to live for but their shared worship. The story is redolent of church candles and incense, all that fin-de-siècle longing for an inviolable and sacred haven amid the industrial soot, the tenement filth, and the noise of the emergent mass culture. Not that there is an religious belief in this story; what Stransom intends by his memorial project is precisely the prolongation of the presence—if only as fire—of his beloved dead, a kind of secular immortality that Walter Pater. who died the year before this story's publication, might have called art:It was in the quiet sense of having saved his souls that his deep, strange instinct rejoiced. This was no dim theological rescue, no boon of a contingent world; they were saved better than faith or works could save them, saved for the warm world they had shrunk from dying to, for actuality, for continuity, for the certainty of human remembrance.Now for the “The Beast in the Jungle.” I am not well-versed in James criticism, but I gather there have been two successive tendencies in interpreting this story about a man who, convinced that some vast destiny awaits him (the titular beast), does nothing with his life, abetted in this inaction by a devoted woman whom he realizes too late—after her death—that he might have loved. The first (moralizing) school of interpretation sees this as a story that warns against the arrogance of believing yourself set apart from the duties of the ordinary; the second (politicizing) interpretation sees this as a tragic tale of the closet, about a furtive gay man and his kindly, knowing beard. Both of these critical allegories, though, seem to evade the story’s main action, in which a canny and imperious woman takes a rather formless, dreamy man and molds his life into a sublimity of nothingness, a vast abstraction. Marcher, as his name may imply, is a mere conscript or trouper in May Bartram’s lifelong project to shape a life. Marcher’s epiphany—that he ought to have loved her—is a bathetic and sentimental falling-off from the glory of absolute and inhuman art that they had shared; he fails to see that this is what she meant when she told him that his destiny had already come without his knowing it—his destiny was to be her creation, her character, an artwork like those of the coming century that would have no reference to our common life. She was the beast all along, and he her prey in a city that has forgotten that it remains a jungle. Read this way, instead of as a sentimental tale about a man who is either a moral delinquent or a political victim, “The Beast in the Jungle” becomes as austere as a Greek tragedy about a mortal man who falls victim to—and is therefore elevated by—the immortal designs of the gods.“The Jolly Corner” is, as its title hints, a more genial tale than these. It is about an American expatriate who returns to New York City after a long absence and begins to wonder what his life would have been like had he chosen an American destiny of swashbuckling capitalism instead of opting, like James, for the Old World. To find out what might have been, Spencer Brydon becomes convinced that he can encounter the ghost of his alternate self haunting his childhood home (which sits on the eponymous corner). In this obsession he is, like the previous protagonists, helped by a woman—Alice Staverton has had “an unbroken career in New York” and seems poised to love Brydon. Most of the story is an exercise in suspense, a build-up to Brydon's dead-of-night encounter with the ghost and to the climactic revelation that Alice has also seen this grizzled spirit—anguished and maimed (missing two fingers) from its hard life of American business. (You can almost see the faint smile on the aged James’s lips at these sportive exaggerations.) Alice seems more attracted to the businessman ghost of Brydon than to the bohemian reality, but she comes around by the end, and the story seems to end happily. A very poignant but also witty reflection on the artist’s dream of having been “normal”—if you will let me end on a self-indulgent note, it reminds me very much of my own short story, “They Are in the Truth,” which is admittedly less complex, though probably easier to read.

  • Maryka Biaggio
    2018-11-19 18:45

    Read the first two of three stories in this collection because they referred to spirits, but I found the writing very dense and difficult to track. I can't recall if his novels are told in this same style, but I found the stories less than satisfying.

  • Akemi
    2018-11-15 20:41

    I think The Beast in the Jungle made me the most pissed off while reading of all the stuff I read for my Henry James class. The prose is typical of his later style, which means that it's INFURIATING. You read yourself into circles, thinking that you know what each word on the page means, but somehow they do not add up to a logical meaning when you reach the end of the sentence, so you have to back and re-read, and re-read, and re-read. And even when you do that, the meaning of the story is not clear. According to my professor, that is kind of the point— that the titular "beast" is James' syntax itself, which devours his character at the end. While it's certainly an impressive feat to pull off and I take my hat off to James' capacities as a writer, it did not make for enjoyable reading for me. I remember having the sinking feeling, as I tore my hair out trying to figure out what was going on, that the story would never reveal exactly what is going on; that you never find out exactly what was supposed to have happened to Marcher, or what knowledge May Bartram has of his life. There is the interpretation that he's just the guy to whom nothing ever happens, that he thinks he's the central character of some great story or drama but it turns out that he's a terrible protagonist because he wastes his life waiting for something to happen. BUT, not only is that terribly trite, it doesn't really explain what happens at the very end of the story, when the Beast pounces upon him. Another more interesting interpretation is that Marcher is homosexual, but even that is a bit overdetermined. I suppose my professor's "syntax" idea is the most palatable to me (probably because I was brainwashed by her superior intellect), but that doesn't change the fact that this is an incredibly painful story to read, seemingly written only so that James can laugh at you and your weak brain in the end.

  • Heath
    2018-12-05 01:33

    A collection of "The Altar of the Dead," "The Beast in the Jungle," and "The Jolly Corner." All deal vaguely with the supernatural, but the focus is, as always, the minds and thoughts of individual people. The delicacy of thought and the depth of prose one associates with James are present in all three, though occasionally the scenes can grow tedious--in "The Jolly Corner" the protagonist spends five pages thinking about whether to open a door. I read this in the Dover Thrift Edition, which was lovely--$2.00 for three short stories strikes me as very reasonable.

  • Kelsey
    2018-11-13 02:52

    Some of the stories were more interesting than others. I really had trouble getting into The Altar of the Dead, but found The Beast in the Jungle interesting and moving towards the end. The Jolly Corner was interesting when the woman was in the scenes, and the ending was good, but it was a tough read and hard to follow. All in all, the stories have some interesting parts but the language makes it very difficult to understand what is going on.

  • David
    2018-11-20 19:41

    James' style is tortuous, in every sense of the word. I don't know if these passive, overly comma'd, lumbering and graceless sentences are purposeful, an attempt to portray the confused character of the protagonist, but they make for quite horrible reading. Kant is a better stylist than James in this story, which is saying a lot.

  • J
    2018-11-23 19:43

    As dense as Henry James is to get through (those reading muscles have atrophied!) I have enjoyed 2 of the 3 stories. Beast in the Jungle of course is gut-thumping, but I found the characters in Altar of the Dead more lovable and the plot packs a punch there too. Looking forward to the third (The Jolly Corner), as soon as I can carve out some big-girl reading time!

  • Lauli
    2018-11-24 19:39

    This wasn't my favourite book by Henry James. The action dragged a bit at times; actually, for most of the story, nothing whatsoever happens. However, we leatn at the end that the protagonist's inaction is the whole point of the narrative. As usual with James, it's brilliantly told, as regards both language and focalization, but it wasn't my cup of tea.

  • Elise
    2018-11-27 18:44

    My eyes get heavy after a a page or two. In two nights, I made it to page seven before falling asleep, and now I'm trying to read it during the day. Day was better. I liked The Beast in the Jungle best, which is not saying a lot.

  • Davi
    2018-12-03 23:30

    What I really wanted was "The Pupil," but it wasn't on this silly site. But I read that and The Beast in the Jungle in the same collection. And The Pupil was great. And The Beast In The Jungle was only moderately less great. So here it is.

  • Kane
    2018-12-05 20:32

    This was my first time reading Henry James. It certainly proved to be quite difficult at the start. After getting into the rhythm of each story it becomes much easier to read. Although, I couldn't read it when I was tired or preoccupied.

  • Kristi
    2018-11-24 02:38

    I read this book for a class on gender and culture in literature, alongside Eve Sedwick's essay from The Epistemology of the Closet -- the essay helps me read the title story as an attempt to provide a space for legibility of a marginalized discourse. I recommend both texts.

  • Carlos Abrille
    2018-11-30 18:54

    The story telling style was incredible, it's complicated story the kind you have to read from start to finish the same day. You really have to pay attention or you'll miss something.

  • Rebecca
    2018-11-19 00:39

    More of HJ inciting readers to "try to be one of the people on whom nothing is lost!"

  • Linda
    2018-11-12 18:27

    Average stories that provide a satisfactory read.