It was first published in by Oxford University Press. After epigraphs from William Blake and Peter Porter , Kermode begins: "It is not expected of critics as it is of poets that they should help us to make sense of our lives; they are bound only to attempt the lesser feat of making sense of the ways in which we try to make sense of our lives. Kermode claims that humans are deeply uncomfortable with the idea that our lives form only a short period in the history of the world. So much has gone before us and so much will come after us.
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It was first published in by Oxford University Press. After epigraphs from William Blake and Peter Porter , Kermode begins: "It is not expected of critics as it is of poets that they should help us to make sense of our lives; they are bound only to attempt the lesser feat of making sense of the ways in which we try to make sense of our lives. Kermode claims that humans are deeply uncomfortable with the idea that our lives form only a short period in the history of the world.
So much has gone before us and so much will come after us. We look for a 'coherent pattern' to explain this fact, and invest in the idea that we find ourselves in the middle of a story.
In order to make sense of our lives we need to find some 'consonance' between the beginning, the middle, and the end. Humans have always used such 'fictions' to impose structure on the idea of eternity, including Homer , Augustine of Hippo and Plato. Stemming from a long tradition of Christian apocalyptic thought , we now have the idea that the beginning was a golden age.
The middle is the age in which we now live, and is characterised by 'decadence', where what was good has declined and is in need of 'renovation'. In order to usher in a new age, a process of painful purging or 'terrors' needs to be undergone. This allows us to explain the chaos and 'crisis' we see unfolding around us.
People living in the middle often believe that the end is very near, and that their own generation is the one with responsibility to usher in a new world. Kermode writes: 'It seems to be a condition attaching to the exercise of thinking about the future that one should assume one's own time to stand in extraordinary relation to it. These 'fictions' are not dangerous in themselves, but they should not be given the status of 'myth' and cause us to take unwarranted actions.
Indeed, some people do approach apocalyptic fictions with a 'naive acceptance'. Others have a 'clerkly scepticism' and deny that it is possible to accurately predict the world's end date. Stories of the end also allow individuals to reflect on their own death, and to make sense of their lives, their place in time, and their relationship to the beginning and the end.
This gives rise to Kermode's memorable phrase: 'No longer imminent, the end is immanent '. Having laid down this theoretical position, Kermode tracks the creation of new attempts to 'make sense of life' through literature.
In it was reissued with a new epilogue. On its publication, the book "caused considerable excitement among literary faculties in America". In a review of the book, The New York Times described it as "impressively learned, eloquent and brilliant". Several obituaries of Kermode took the same title, including those that appeared in The Daily Telegraph  and the journal Common Knowledge.
The book appears on numerous university reading lists and is still regularly commented upon at academic conferences and in other books on literature. Colin Burrow wrote in that he regarded it as one of "the three most inspiring works of literary criticism written in the twentieth century" together with Erich Auerbach 's Mimesis and E.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the novel, see The Sense of an Ending. The Humanistic Heritage. Apocalyptic Transformation: Apocalypse and the Postmodern Imagination p. Categories : books Books of literary criticism Oxford University Press books. Hidden categories: Books with missing cover. Namespaces Article Talk. Views Read Edit View history. Contribute Help Community portal Recent changes Upload file.
The Sense of an Ending: Studies in the Theory of Fiction
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The Sense of an Ending Quotes
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 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.