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“The sense of an ending” by Julian Barnes

06 Jun

In Julian Barnes’ awarded novel The sense of an Ending, its author deals, under a philosophical point of view, with all those feelings and actions that, when getting older, give our human nature sense. The novel is divided into two parts, “One” and “Two”, both narrated by Tony Webster , its main character, when he is retired and living alone.

The first part begins in the 1960s with four school friends, of whom two are the main characters in the novel: Tony, the narrator, and Adrian, the most intelligent of the four. Towards the end of their school days another boy at the school hangs himself, apparently after getting a girl pregnant. The four friends discuss the philosophical difficulty of knowing exactly what happened.

Adrian goes to Cambridge University and Tony to Bristol University. Tony meets Verónica and she becomes his girlfriend. tony is invited to Veronica’s, where he spends an awkward weekend and meets the whole family . Tony and Verónica broke off in his final year at university and then Tony receives a letter from Adrian telling him that he is going out with Veronica. Tony writes back to Adrian and warns him that Verónica isn’t an easy woman to go out with.

Some months later he is told that Adrian has committed suicide, leaving a note saying that the free person has a philosophical duty to examine the nature of their life, and may then choose to renounce it. Tony admires the reasoning. He briefly recounts us the following  forty years of his life until he is in his sixties.

The second part of the novel  begins with the arrival of a lawyer’s letter informing him that Veronica’s mother has left him £500 and two documents. These force him to re-establish contact with Veronica and after a number of meetings with her, to re-evaluate the story he has narrated in the first part. During this period of time only Veronica knows the real truth and Tony and the reader are forced to fill the gaps to know the facts. It is at the very ending that Tony and the reader learn the reason why Adrian took his life.

Its reading is fantastic and the plot really intelligent, we specially enjoyed the second part of the book as it can be considered a thriller because the author writes events and facts in such a way that the reader must take an active role to find out. It was a nice way to finish our reading club and we had an interesting debate about some aspects of the novel.


Click on the image to see a presentation created for the meeting:


Pilar Martínez-Sapiña

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