Tag Archives: The Beast in the Jungle

Marginalia, no.42

[T]he extinction in his life of the element of suspense was such in fact as to surprise him.  He could scarce have said what the effect resembled; the abrupt cessation, the positive prohibition, of music perhaps… What it presently came to in truth was that poor Marcher waded through his beaten grass, where no life stirred, where no breath sounded, where no evil eye seemed to gleam from a possible lair, very much as if vaguely looking for the Beast, and still more as if missing it.

~ Henry James, The Beast in the Jungle

Life for the child is a sort of wild game park.  There are monsters hid in the closet and fairy things that scratch at the window, and the imagination is thick with all manner of wonderful, improbable creatures.  But the days flit through the calendar like bullets in the leaves and by twenty the list of threatened species is dismally long for most of us.  The danger, of course, is that in the end you’ll find yourself entirely disillusioned and safe.  How awful to be the most terrible thing left lurking in the woods.

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