On the Parallels Between Henry James’s Relationships and His Story “The Beast in the Jungle”
From the History of Literature Podcast with Jacke Wilson
For tens of thousands of years, human beings have been using fictional devices to shape their worlds and communicate with one another. Four thousand years ago they began writing down these stories, and a great flourishing of human achievement began. We know it today as literature, a term broad enough to encompass everything from ancient epic poetry to contemporary novels. How did literature develop? What forms has it taken? And what can we learn from engaging with these works today? Hosted by Jacke Wilson, an amateur scholar with a lifelong passion for literature, The History of Literature takes a fresh look at some of the most compelling examples of creative genius the world has ever known.
Henry James’s “The Beast in the Jungle”: John Marcher has been waiting all his life for something rare and strange to happen to him—something that will leap out of the darkness and attack him like a beast in a jungle. His friend May Bartram has agreed to wait with him. Together, the pair have been analyzing and enduring this unusual life-situation for years… until finally the Beast appears, first to her, and then to him.
In this episode, Jacke concludes the three-part series on the Henry James masterpiece “The Beast in the Jungle,” reading the end of the story and relating the tantalizing connections to Henry James’s own relationship with fellow author and close friend Constance Fenimore Woolson. But don’t worry! If you missed the first two parts, you can find them in the archive or just start here—Jacke provides everything you need to know. Enjoy!