In The Beast in the Jungle, Henry James set out to write a story of an unlived life. At the end of the story, the protagonist John Marcher learns that he had missed his chance for life in not reciprocating the love of May Bartram. The source of Marcher's appeal lies in the manner in which James tells his story. James's prose famously or notoriously does not have the transparency, say, of Tolstoy's prose in The Death of Ivan Ilych, a work which has affinities with The Beast in the Jungle. In The Beast in the Jungle, the narrator is from the very beginning up close to Marcher and remains throughout on intimate terms with him. Marcher is "the center of consciousness" without having the narrative control that he would have as a first person narrator. The Beast in the Jungle is about the price paid for this aesthetic consciousness, that is, the transaction between the aesthetic and the erotic.