Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Fictional endings

1943 edition of Jane Eyre
I kind of can't believe Jane Eyre's "Reader, I married him" wasn't on the Observer's list of 10 best closing lines in fiction; instead they opted for sister Emily's finale to Wuthering Heights. Like most good comedies of manners, Emma by Jane Austen also ends with marriage:
"The wedding was very much like other weddings, where the parties have no taste for finery or parade; and Mrs. Elton, from the particulars detailed by her husband, thought it all extremely shabby, and very inferior to her own.—'Very little white Satin, very few lace veils; a most pitiful business!—Selina would stare when she heard of it.' But, in spite of these deficiencies, the wishes, the hopes, the confidence, the predictions of the small band of true friends who witnessed the ceremony, were fully answered in the perfect happiness of the union."
A ring owned by Jane Austen, recently sold by her family for £150,000 (US$234,668)
Do you have any ending lines candidates? I'm going to start making my own list of openers, because I admire excellent ones greatly, and it makes a crucial difference in hooking me on a new author. For discount books by and about the Bronte sisters (including bios and fan fiction), click here.
Another great illustration by Fritz Eichenberg from the 1943 Random House edition.

14 comments:

  1. I just read the ten best closing lines in fiction, I have to admit I've read but maybe two of the novels listed. I am more ashamed to admit, I've never read The Great Gatsby, but the line "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past," really struck me and to the point I immediately want to pick up a copy of the book. Thanks

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  2. Completely agree with the last lines of "Gatsby" and "Ulysses" (can't wait to read those with the rest of it behind me), but "Reader, I married him." should be up there. Can't wait to see what other fictional endings turn up!

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  3. Vindictus ViridiusJuly 31, 2012 at 12:27 PM

    I, like Penny, have only read a few of the books listed in the Guardian article. One of my absolute all-time favorites, though, is To the Lighthouse by Woolf, so it greatly pleased me to see its inclusion. If you haven't read it, get on that! More beautiful, poetic prose I've hardly ever read.

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  4. Glad to see a children's book on this list and a mention to Harry Potter and Sendak. Children's books really shape a reader so it's nice to see them get their props.

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  5. He beat me to 1984, but the last line I would nominate is in The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad.
    "And the incorruptible Professor walked, too, averting his eyes from the odious multitude of mankind. He had no future. He disdained it. He was a force. His thoughts caressed the images of ruin and destruction. He walked frail, insignificant, shabby, miserable-- and terrible in the simplicity of his idea calling madness and despair to the regeneration of the world. Nobody looked at him. He passed on, unsuspected and deadly, like a pest in the street full of men."

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  6. Soooo many to choose from, so I thought I'd go with a more recent favorite. The following is the final line from "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak. "A LAST NOTE FROM YOUR NARRATOR. I am haunted by humans."
    Incidentally, this book now haunts my top ten:)

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    1. Good thinking Wilhelm... That is a great line! (and a great book)

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    2. That book had a powerful impact on me as well. The story & the heroine were riveting.

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    3. Thanks for the tip. I'm going to catch "The Book Thief" ASAP.

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  7. Was going to suggest this line as well. The Book Thief was one of the most affecting books I've ever read. Even though it's not the happiest book, I found myself rereading it a year later because I missed the characters so much.

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  8. Love these! But "Reader, I married him" isn't on the list because it isn't the closing line of the novel; it's the first sentence of the book's last chapter.

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    1. I was hoping to slip that one by ... a bit of poetic license; but I should know by now that my savvy readers will always catch me out!

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  9. Fiction--not necessarily a novel.
    "In me didst thou exist--and, in my death, see by this image, which is thine own, how utterly thou hast murdered thyself."

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