General

The Final Words

Working yesterday for a time near the end of the soon to be new novel…

[Sneak Peek from Tomorrow the Grace. Click to expand.]

….led me to recall how often we discuss great opening lines. Debating which are the greatest of great openings is an endless game. This one I consider the best:

Its first words are extremely well-known:

[Opening to Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. Photo by me, 2019.]

However, conclusions are perhaps lesser known. Here are some final paragraphs I pulled from famous novels I have on my Kindle. Can you guess which they are? I’ll give the answer below each one.

To start. Recognize this?:

[From a Kindle version for iPad/iPhone. Click to expand.]

And, no, it has nothing to do with the television show Seinfeld.

That’s the end of Henry James’s The American.

Next:

[From a Kindle version for iPad/iPhone. Click to expand.]

The character references may have been a good clue. It is Alexandre Dumas’s The Three Musketeers.

Third:

[From a Kindle version for iPad/iPhone. Click to expand.]

That’s just too easy. Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, of course.

Fourth:

[From a Kindle version for iPad/iPhone. Click to expand.]

Gosh, that’s even easier because an important part of its title appears: James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans.

That said, this individual sentence of that last paragraph is itself pretty stand alone famous: “The pale faces are masters of the earth, and the time of the red men has not yet come again.”

Last one. I bet this stumps you:

[From a Kindle version for iPad/iPhone. Click to expand.]

It is actually a really tough one.

That’s the end of (that translation of) Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace.

I thought also about my own conclusions. I like the final words to be “nebulous” (and I know I’m certainly not the only writer who tries to do that). For even if it is going to be the end, it is usually best for it not to read precisely as the end:

[From Passports, Kindle version for iPad/iPhone. Click to expand.]

[From Frontiers, Kindle version for iPad/iPhone. Click to expand.]

[From Distances, Kindle version for iPad/iPhone. Click to expand.]

[From Conventions: The Garden At Paris, Kindle version for iPad/iPhone. Click to expand.]

Novels are (to me) about a snapshot in time. Readers are dropped among “these people” for perhaps hundreds of pages. Abruptly they are then dragged away and are now unable to witness the goings on any longer.

Yes, there might be a chance to be returned to “those people” eventually. Or it may in fact be THE END. But at least allowing, as the writer, for either possibility is usually, I feel, a good idea. ๐Ÿ™‚

Another good idea: the weekend. Indeed also speaking of another type of snapshot in time. Have a good one, wherever you are.๐Ÿ˜Š