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Hunt, W. (1995). The Diffident Narcissist: A Character-Type Illustrated In The Beast In The Jungle By Henry James. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 76:1257-1267.

(1995). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 76:1257-1267

The Diffident Narcissist: A Character-Type Illustrated In The Beast In The Jungle By Henry James

Winslow Hunt

The author demonstrates that Henry James's novella ‘The Beast in the Jungle’ can be read in the light of a psychoanalytic understanding of narcissism. Although James does not describe the hero's childhood, it can be imagined from the perspective of analytic understanding. The character painted by James is characterised by a persona of conventionality, decorum and inhibited sexuality and assertiveness. His inner life is dominated by a secret grandiose fantasy. This combination leads the author to call this type the diffident narcissist. The type bears a relationship to the covert narcissist described by Akhtar, Cooper and others in various contributions. James traces his hero's development from young adulthood to old age, through his evolving relationship with a kind and empathic woman. Because he waits for a transforming event that never happens, this man fails to seize the love and happiness that real life has offered him.

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