Sidharth Vardhan

I couldn’t make ‘The Sense of Ending’

the sense of the ending julian barnes sidharth vardhan review analysis
Categories: ,
Published: 2011
This intense novel follows a middle-aged man as he contends with a past he has never much thought about - until his closest childhood friends return with a vengeance, one of them from the grave, another maddeningly present. Tony Webster thought he'd left all this behind as he built a life for himself, and by now his marriage and family and career have fallen into an amicable divorce and retirement. But he is then presented…

(A review of
'The Sense of the Ending',
a novel by Julian Barnes
2011 Booker Prize winner)

"What you end up remembering isn't always the same as what you have witnessed.”

Julian Barnes (The Sense of the Ending)

the Sense of Ending movie still Jilian Barnes Sidharth Vardhan review analysis
A still from 2011 movie of same name inspired from the book

Have you ever wished that there should have been a delete or edit button to change your memories? No, there is no such button but there definitely exist internalized mechanisms which can do those things for us – although a little slowly over time but definitely calculated to make life easy. The truth in our memories is slowly killed over time :

“How often do we tell our own life story? How often do we adjust, embellish, make sly cuts? And the longer life goes on, the fewer are those around to challenge our account, to remind us that our life is not our life, merely the story we have told about our life. Told to others, but—mainly—to ourselves.”

Julian Barnes (The Sense of the Ending)


"We live with such easy assumptions, don’t we? For instance, that memory equals events plus time. But it’s all much odder than this. Who was it said that memory is what we thought we’d forgotten? And it ought to be obvious to us that time doesn’t act as a fixative, rather as a solvent. But it’s not convenient — it’s not useful — to believe this; it doesn’t help us get on with our lives; so we ignore it."

Julian Barnes (The Sense of the Ending)

And this forms the central theme of the book. Having bad memory can be way better than remembering bad memories.

There are some really great quotes on aging. The writing is awesome. The narrator is continuously throwing in quotes the quotes on how aging influence memory –trying to throw in advance justifications for his action; but the problem is I couldn’t make the sense of the ending. No pun intended. The book left a lot of questions unanswered.

The spoiler is a big, big one. If you have any intention of reading the book; don't read the next passage.

Julian Barnes
Julian Barnes

I can’t digest the fact that Tony had entirely forgotten about the letter. Also, I don’t think that Tony had a lot to be guilty about in the end; unless his sub-consciousness imagined that meeting about the affair between Adrain and Veronica’s mother. Even then he had only little to be guilty about. And none of theories seem to explain why, in sweet satan’s name, did Veronica’s mother left all that money for Tony?

More Quotes

“This was another of our fears: that Life wouldn't turn out to be like Literature.” 

Julian Barnes (The Sense of the Ending)

“History is that certainty produced at the point where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation.” 

Julian Barnes (The Sense of the Ending)

"It strikes me that this may be one of the differences between youth and age: when we are young, we invent different futures for ourselves; when we are old, we invent different pasts for others.” 

Julian Barnes (The Sense of the Ending)

“History is that certainty produced at the point where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation.” 

Julian Barnes (The Sense of the Ending)

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