The Sense of an Ending: Studies in the Theory of Fiction with a New Epilogue

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Oxford University Press, Apr 6, 2000 - Literary Criticism - 224 pages
Frank Kermode is one of our most distinguished critics of English literature. Here, he contributes a new epilogue to his collection of classic lectures on the relationship of fiction to age-old concepts of apocalyptic chaos and crisis. Prompted by the approach of the millennium, he revisits the book which brings his highly concentrated insights to bear on some of the most unyielding philosophical and aesthetic enigmas. Examining the works of writers from Plato to William Burrows, Kermode shows how they have persistently imposed their "fictions" upon the face of eternity and how these have reflected the apocalyptic spirit. Kermode then discusses literature at a time when new fictive explanations, as used by Spenser and Shakespeare, were being devised to fit a world of uncertain beginning and end. He goes on to deal perceptively with modern literature with "traditionalists" such as Yeats, Eliot, and Joyce, as well as contemporary "schismatics," the French "new novelists," and such seminal figures as Jean-Paul Sartre and Samuel Beckett. Whether weighing the difference between modern and earlier modes of apocalyptic thought, considering the degeneration of fiction into myth, or commenting on the vogue of the Absurd, Kermode is distinctly lucid, persuasive, witty, and prodigal of ideas.

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THE SENSE OF AN ENDING: Studies In The Theory Of Fiction

User Review  - Kirkus

This is the most important book on aesthetics and culture to appear since Rosenberg's The Tradition of the New and Sypher's Loss of the Self. Working from a fresh and sophisticated premise—the ... Read full review

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User Review  - Peter - Goodreads

This is a must read for readers. Kermode is brilliant in his analysis of human psychology and the stories we like to tell. Apocalyse now, anyone? Because I am aging, it must be all coming to an end soon, or eventually, which will seem like an instant … later. Read full review


The End
World Without End or Beginning
The Modern Apocalypse
Literary Fiction and Reality
Solitary Confinement
The Sense of an Ending 1999

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Page 58 - Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter ; 20 The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks.
Page 24 - No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
Page 111 - Plato thought nature but a spume that plays Upon a ghostly paradigm of things; Solider Aristotle played the taws Upon the bottom of a king of kings; World-famous golden-thighed Pythagoras Fingered upon a fiddle-stick or strings What a star sang and careless Muses heard: Old clothes upon old sticks to scare a bird.
Page 79 - I well consider all that ye have sayd, And find that all things stedfastnes doe hate And changed be ; yet, being rightly wayd, They are not changed from their first estate ; But by their change their being doe dilate, And turning to themselves at length againe, Doe work their owne perfection so by fate : Then, over them Change doth not rule and raigne, But they raigne over Change, and doe their states maintaine.
Page 184 - But of that day and that hour, knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
Page 7 - into the middest', in medias res, when they are born; they also die in mediis rebus, and to make sense of their span they need fictive concords with origins and ends, such as give meaning to lives and to poems.
Page 199 - For the Methode of a Poet historical is not such, as of an Historiographer. For an Historiographer discourseth of affayres orderly as they were donne, accounting as well the times as the actions, but a Poet thrusteth into the middest, euen where it most concerneth him, and there recoursing to the thinges forepaste, and diuining of thinges to come, maketh a pleasing Analysis of all.
Page 17 - Men in the middest make considerable imaginative investments in coherent patterns which, by the provision of an end, make possible a satisfying consonance with the origins and with the middle.
Page 176 - Really, universally, relations stop nowhere, and the exquisite problem of the artist is eternally but to draw, by a geometry of his own, the circle within which they shall happily appear to do so.
Page 64 - From this the poem springs: that we live in a place That is not our own and, much more, not ourselves And hard it is in spite of blazoned days.

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About the author (2000)

Frank Kermode was formerly King Edward VII Professor of English Literature, Cambridge University.

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