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42 Book Review The Sense of an Ending By Julian Barnes Reviewed by Michael Attard he Sense of an Ending is fiction and a more refined where he was invited to meet and stay with the Ford categorization by the Library of Congress has family over a weekend. Tony was given a cryptic warning Tincluded it under psychological fiction. In my by Veronica’s mother. estimation, the book also qualifies as a mystery. The inability to pigeon-hole the book may help explain Fifty pages in, we learn of a tragedy. Tony wonders if why it was awarded the Man Booker Prize. I am always complications are necessary in life if one is to experience skeptical of committees that award prizes, but the book any real depth. But he goes on to conclude that perhaps, was considered to be the best novel written in English “you can have complication and difficulty without any CULTURE & ARTSand published in both the United Kingdom and Ireland compensating depth or seriousness.” in 2011. In a couple of pages, forty years whiz by, but everything The protagonist is Tony Webster, and the events are seems accounted for. In fact, Tony thinks that things are related in the first person. The location is England, and just fine, until a letter arrives from a lawyer. Tony is thrust, the story begins somewhere in the 1960s. Tony had or pulled back, by a powerful gravity into his past, which two close friends, Colin and Alex, but in their last year he had believed, up until then, was well wrapped and safely of high school, a new boy, Adrian, arrived and became stored in history. The mystery involves something that is regarded as the philosopher of the group. He believed that his, although it never was his before. He is entitled to it principles should guide actions. While their lives were but someone else has it. He is unsure of its significance, prosaic, they desired life as portrayed in literature. They and he could just let it go, but he wants it. And why will longed for “psychological, emotional, and social truth.” this person not give him what is rightfully his? 2 2 The story is, for the most part, the recounting of events y 20that occurred many years before. Tony is attempting to be “As Tony thinks about, recollects, as accurate as possible, but he is troubled by the concepts of time and history, which he fears may be causing him and analyzes the passage of to miss the point of it all – the point of his life, that is. As time, his mind whirls around the ebruarTony thinks about, recollects, and analyzes the passage of F time, his mind whirls around the concepts of regret, even concepts of regret, even remorse, remorse, wondering if one can receive forgiveness. And wondering if one can receive how can any history be truth when, as Adrian had put it, “History is that certainty produced at the point where forgiveness.” the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation.” He later realizes that this metaphorical icon can possibly When the boys finished school to go their separate ways offer him corroboration. It could be the necessary and to different universities, they of course promised evidence to put his mind at rest so that he would not need “lifelong friendship.” Tony met Veronica Ford, and their to depend upon an untrustworthy memory in order to precarious relationship progressed at least to the point understand his life. www.gwangjunewsgic.com 202202.indd 42202202.indd 42 2022-01-24  1:25:352022-01-24  1:25:35

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