The Beast in the Jungle

“When the possibilities themselves had accordingly turned stale, when the secret of the gods had grown faint, had perhaps even quite evaporated, that, and that only, was failure. It wouldn’t have been failure to be bankrupt, dishonoured, pilloried, hanged; it was failure not to be anything.”

Henry James, “The Beast in the Jungle,” in Major Stories and Essays (New York: Library of America, 1999)

I feel this quote is the epitome of all of the deathbed regrets that have ever been expressed: the regret of passivity over activity.

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