Skip to main content

The Sense of an Ending - Julian Barnes

Genre: Fiction
Sub-genre: Autobiographical narration/mystery
Rating: 4.5/5



It won the Man Booker in 2011 for good reason. As I have mentioned in this post of mine, the number of pages is hardly the yardstick of the intensity of a story. I can safely club The Sense of An Ending with the likes of Of Mice and Men or Animal Farm; their slender spines pack a whopping punch. 

Middle-aged Antony 'Tony' Webster mirrors the common folk. His demeanour and personality are not uncommon. The story centres on a particular episode in his life, described in his own self-flattering, borderline-pitying tone. What began as a perplexing letter, ends in the unlidding of the Pandora's box. 

The genius of the story rests on the author's ability to turn the tide - not once,  but repeatedly - for and against the narrator. This is like an extended diary entry not meant for anyone's eyes. save the author himself. The recordings are true, but then truth is so qualitative, so relative and so opinionated, that it may not be the truth at all. Barnes - known for his other works in a similar field (Nothing to be Frightened Of) - opens the reader's mind to the possibility of the colouring and malleability of our memories by age, circumstances, selfish choices and first-impressions.

True to the form of the book, there is no clearly worded outcome, leaving only a little to imagination. It is surprising, thus, to find a multitude of possible interpretations available online. Admittedly some are wild; others less so. The screen adaptation of the book did not fare well - understandably (in my limited knowledge, I think it is decidedly difficult to play around with the depiction of memories), but that too, has certain elements that superceded my very simplistic interpretations. But then, in this truly inconceivable journey of even the most humdrum of individuals, nothing should come as a surprise. 

The Sense of An Ending is also very artistically named. All things end and new ones begin. Everything is a journey, with a clear start and a hazy termination. Having a clear, dispassionate view - making sense, if you may - of the course of an event is a task which exceeds the timelines of the event itself. 

P.S. I find this cover of the book (the 2012 publication by Vintage) particularly brilliant, considering the significance of the egg; the one I possess looks like this (published by Vintage in 2011). The escaping seeds of the dandelion, though very symbolic, lacks the power of the solitary, white egg !

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Man-Eaters of Kumaon - Jim Corbett

Genre: Non-fiction
Rating: 5/5


This one is decidedly a classic, so there is little point in reviewing this book. It is a beautiful one, without doubt. 
Personally, I avoid any form of entertainment (books, movies, plays, anything) which features cruelty - either directly or tacitly - towards animals (I have not yet seen any of the Planet of the Apes movies, Ant Man was uncomfortable too). So deciding to read this book took a certain degree of convincing. 
Much credit goes to the beautiful cover of the book. This one is an Aleph Classics (co-founded by David Davidar of The House of Blue Mangoes fame, and Rupa Publication) edition. In terms of sheer elegance, the cover design is unmatched.

The palette concept of jungle green coupled with the late afternoon sun creates an ambiance even before you delve into the pages. I picked out the book from a thin pile on a shelf in the little HigginBothams book-store near Charing Cross in Ooty, one biting winter evening (more on that later), such w…

Higginbothams of Ooty

It took us some time to decipher that the name of the crossroad was Charing Cross. After all, it is an unexpected name for an Indian crossroad in Tamil Nadu, and the mildly opinionated chap driving us to our hotel had a heavy accent. Charing Cross turned out to be a triangular enclosure, with an imposing fountain (we later discovered that it was named the Adam's Fountain; it is three-tiered, the second one topped by four very colourful cherubs). Since we had arrived in the middle of the afternoon in the thick of winter, the roads were thronging with people and vehicles. Shops were bustling and business appeared brisk. Our driver skilfully negotiated the traffic as we passed woollens shops, gift houses, eateries, groceries and mobile-phone shops. 
We returned to the market later in the evening, after having deposited our luggage. Both my husband and I had been fending off a nasty bout of flu and needed to restock our now near-empty medicine pouch. Charing Cross in the evening (thi…

Top 10 books to read when you are depressed

Books are handy weapons to stave off blues - be it the dregs of the Sunday evening or a nasty bout of flu. When you are depressed, it takes herculean efforts to shake off the feeling. And I'm not even talking about the more severe, clinical form of depression. I can't get myself to pour myself a glass of water the day after Diwali; on Fridays on the other hand, I am the epitome of eternal sunshine. For such moody, dull days, these top 10 books are the surest way to dust a little sparkle in your life.
1) Three Men In A Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog): This is Jerome K. Jerome at his absolute best. It was published some 130 years back and is still capable of eliciting raucous laughter. It is the honest journal of three young, bumbling flatmates and their dog on a river cruise. Look out for some meandering, pedantic pages, but they offer some relief from the relentless humour. 
2) James Herriot'sDog Stories: If you love animals (and dogs, in particular), this is the ultimate…