Julian Barnes and The Sense of an Ending

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I would rather have called this book The Sense of Many Endings. It tells the story of Tony Webster, an unremarkable retired man who is rethinking some of the major events in his life: school, school friends, girlfriends, marriage, etc. The story is punctuated by many endings: two suicides, relationships that fizzle out and a divorce. There are two pivotal relationships in Tony’s life: a former girlfriend called Veronica and a former school friend called Adrian who ends up with Veronica but commits suicide. Those would remain as memories to puzzle over were it not for one strange happening: Many years later, Veronica’s mother dies and wills Adrian’s diary to Tony as well as a non-trivial amount of money. What does this all mean? As Veronica is in possession of the diary and refuses to turn it over, he feels compelled to contact her again. This leads to painful confrontations between his memories and understandings of his past actions and Veronica’s interpretations (she keeps telling Tony that he never got it). Where does the truth lie? Or is it just a matter of what interpretation do you adopt so that you can live with yourself? If you are shaken enough, it may mean the end of a sense of self, your own understanding of who you are… And hand-cut chips are fat chips.

 Reference:

Barnes, Julian, The Sense of an Ending, Random House, 2011.

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4 responses »

    • Ha ha, once does not go without the other now, does it? New understandings lead to new discoveries as well.
      But I kept feeling so sad for Tony, always looking for confirmation and not very open to re-examining his own life.

  1. Pingback: Julian Barnes: my life as a bibliophile | Books | The Guardian « A Book of Healing: Practicing a Psychotherapy of Liberation with African-Americans

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