Monday, August 22, 2011

[BRIEF] ...And the Best Last Lines from (Mostly English Language) Novels

Eugène Delacroix: George Sand (1838)
Courtesy of my friend MP, apropos the previous post about "the best 50 opening sentences in English-language fiction," here come the "100 best last lines from novels," by way of American Book Review. Lists can be very entertaining - and lists about and from literature are so rare, that I do hope you will thoroughly enjoy these.

Notwithstanding the slightly annoying limitation to (mostly) English and American authors, which brings to mind the famous accusation of provincialism that stirred the waters a few years back. Truth is (or is it?) that the literary "world" of each nation (or, to put it differently, each cultural-linguistic space) suffers genetically from selective vision. It is a known fact, for example, that the German literary space is much more open to Central and Eastern European authors than any other similarly significant literature. This is why it is through the German channel that many of these authors become major names in the English-speaking world. Just take the case of Sándor Márai, whose first major British-American hit, Embers, was translated not from the  Hungarian original, but from the German translation.        

So, please find below a short selection from this list; but do go and read the whole thing here. All the nominations received in the process of compiling this list can be found here (also worth reading).

Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux: 
Alexande Dumas Fils (1873)
2. Who knows but that, on the lower frequencies, I speak for you? –Ralph Ellison,
Invisible Man (1952)
3. So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
–F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (1925)
4. …I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the
Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the
Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with
my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain
flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could
feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes
I will Yes. –James Joyce, Ulysses (1922)
5. But I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt
Sally she’s going to adopt me and sivilize me and I can’t stand it. I been there
before. –Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885)
6. “Yes,” I said. “Isn’t it pretty to think so?” –Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also
Rises (1926)
7. He loved Big Brother. –George Orwell, 1984 (1949)
8. ‘It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better
rest that I go to than I have ever known.’ –Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
9. The offing was barred by a black bank of clouds, and the tranquil waterway
leading to the uttermost ends of the earth flowed sombre under an overcast sky—
seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness. –Joseph Conrad, Heart of
Darkness (1902)
10. Yes, she thought, laying down her brush in extreme fatigue, I have had my
vision. –Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse (1927)
11. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the
universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and
the dead. –James Joyce, “The Dead” in Dubliners (1914)

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