Kuhn argues that any branch of science works with a paradigm of already existing knowledge which is then adjusted in order that it may be brought into a closer relationship with natural phenomena.
It is precisely this evolutionary account which Kermode uses in compiling his literary history. That any sociological account might be given for the concern of some contemporary fiction with its own fictiveness, he never for a moment considers. Thus it is that, by locating the central tradition of the novel not in its moral or psychological density but in an imaginary paradigm which, since it has never existed, he is forced to derive sophistically from apocalyptic, Professor Kermode manages to put in a plea for contemptus mundi which masquerades as an apology for realism.
It looks very much as though The Sense of an Ending is a book whose central thesis will stand up to neither philosophical nor historical analysis. If this is so then the question might well be asked as to why the book was received so enthusiastically by a large number of literary critics. The Alps of artistic achievement are before and behind us and, as we attempt to follow the giddying ravine of meaning, we may be chastened into submission by the sheer sublimity of this Simplon Pass of intellect: And yet, as we mount ever upward into the rarefied atmosphere of intellectual abstraction, a doubt may come to possess us.
Is the brilliance really brilliant, or might it not prove on closer examination to be little more than obscurantist? In the course of his discussion of literary form Kermode refers slightingly to a work of aesthetic theory which takes up a stance diametrically opposed to his own.
While these revolutions have all too frequently been seen to herald a new interest in time, they might better be seen as embodying a more erotic relationship to experience, together with a fundamental rejection of that resistance to process which underlies both Platonic philosophy and Pauline eschatology. The radical questioning of the transcendent powers of art which begins in the nineteenth century is continued in modern literature by such different writers as Sylvia Plath and Samuel Beckett, both of whom affirm process against the petrifactions implicit in Flaubertian theory, both of whom explore the relationship of the suffering artist to Christ, and either reject or seriously question the redemptive claims of art.
It is against such a background that the theories of Peckham and Kermode are produced. Ideas of order are allied in The Sense of an Ending to a deep involvement with the notion of art as a means of transcendence, and it is to such an ideal of art that Kermode attempts to assimilate the apparently alien tradition of modern fiction. In this defence of artistic eternity it is not only ideas of transcendence which are at stake, but a significant portion of the ethos of professional literary criticism. In many of the most influential writings on literary studies a version of religious faith has been displaced onto art, and literature, conceived of as innately good, has been dispensed as a benison for ailing souls.
Few critics have questioned deeply the nature of artistic achievement and fewer still have gone beyond that to examine the moral assumptions which lie behind their preference for literature as against other forms of cultural activity. In this respect the profession of literary criticism may be said to lag more than a century behind the literature it studies. It might be suggested that it is as just such a work of critical opposition that The Sense of an Ending can best be read.
It is a book which examines not literature but an idea of literature, which defends not so much the modern novel as the profession of literary criticism conceived of in anti-psychological and anti-historical terms. Kermode projects onto literature an image which converts it into a diluted surrogate for religion, a surrogate which provides both solace and a sense of unity. In skilfully reducing the diversity of literature to a simple monotheism he performs a questionable service for a profession whose unity has always been in doubt.
At the same time, against the encroaching disciplines of history and psychoanalysis he asserts the hegemony of his own conception of literary values and performs in this cause a considerable feat of colonisation. History, physics, and even the notion of crisis are all reduced to the status of formally pleasing fictions. In The Sense of an Ending the critic may well be introduced as the humble servant of the artist, but he ends up by presiding over the game, a game which is uncannily similar to one described by Hermann Hesse in his novel The Glass Bead Game.
The rules and grammar of this game are, according to Hesse, a kind of highly-developed secret language drawing on several sciences and arts, but especially mathematics and musicology.
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This language is capable of expressing and establishing relationships between the conclusions of nearly all scholarly disciplines. They ignore the sacrifices which their country makes in order to feed and clothe them and underwrite their schooling and research. They admit unashamedly that their purpose in life is to cultivate scholarly disciplines for their own sake. When Knecht, the disillusioned Ludi Magister calls to their attention the possibility of political upheaval, one of the initiates replies that to project images of doom is both frivolous and dangerous, and that, worst of all, it threatens the spirit of tranquillity which is the very essence of the Glass Bead Game, whose players consider themselves to be above the base realities of politics or economics.
In affirming the very values which Hesse calls into question Kermode can again be seen in the role of the critic in opposition. Some light may be cast on this problem by considering the universal attraction of mandala symbols.
In his analysis of mandalas Jung suggests that in these concentric geometrical figures we express and reinforce a sense of our own boundaries; in them we seal out infinity and represent a purified abstract ideal both of the self and the deity. Mandalas are most common in oriental religions, but in the ancient Christian idea that God is a sphere whose centre is everywhere and circumference nowhere, something of their force is preserved. We can find versions of mandala symbolism in the concentric spheres of Elizabethan cosmology, in some abstract art, or, for that matter, in any town square. In virtually stripping literature of its social, moral and personal concerns, what Kermode creates is a kind of mystical geometry.
The seductive potency of his vision of literature may thus be said to derive not from literature at all but from those images of concord which already existed in pre-literate societies. The Sense of an Ending Divorced and retired, Tony Webster, an aging Londoner and vintage camera shop owner, whittles down the solitude of his isolated existence by keeping an affectionate relationship with his ex-wife, Margaret, and by accompanying his nearly full-term pregnant daughter, Susie, to antenatal courses.
However, the unexpected arrival of an unsettling letter will disrupt the fine balance of things in Tony's orderly life, reconnecting him with his first love from college, Veronica, and the nostalgic, yet clouded memories of a distant past. Inevitably, as Tony scavenges for bits and pieces through flashbacks, the out-of-focus picture of his youth will gradually sharpen, nevertheless, is he ready to face the truth? Written by Nick Riganas. This excellent movie has an all-star cast. Jim Broadbent portrays Tony Webster, a divorced man who is technically retired, but who runs a camera repair shop that specializes in Leica cameras.
Dame Harriet Walter plays Margaret Webster, his divorced wife. They have a grown daughter Susie Michelle Dockery who is a pregnant, partner-less lesbian. Charlotte Rampling plays Veronica Ford. She holds a secret that is the key to a critical moment in Tony's life that took place 50 years earlier. Jim Broadbent is one of the greatest actors of the late 20th and early 21st Century. I've seen him in many films, and he always inhabits his role as if he were, indeed, that person.
Dame Margaret Webster is a fine actor, and has appeared in dozens of movies and made-for-TV specials. She does a highly professional job as a embittered woman, whose life is absorbed by her business interests. Michelle Dockery looks as if she just changed costumes and walked into this movie from Downton Abbey. She is always angry and depressed. For the record, her part is small and non-central in this film. I think she wants to broaden her range, but that didn't happen here. Could she ever star in a comedy? Charlotte Rampling was one of the most beautiful women in movies.
At age 70, she still is one of the most beautiful women in movies.
She is not only beautiful, but she is a consummate actor who is made for this role. This film is complicated. You'll have to pay close attention or you'll miss the point. In fact, during the middle of the film, I missed the point. Sarah Ford, the mother of a former girlfriend whom he met in the s while at university. He is left pounds and two documents, the first is a letter somewhat explaining an unwarranted gift.
The second document is still with Tony's former girlfriend and Sarah's daughter, Veronica Ford. Tony is confused why the mother of an ex-girlfriend whom he only met once decades ago would leave him something in her will.
While having lunch with Margaret, he reveals for the first time his relationship with Veronica and his one-time meeting with her mother, Sarah. Seeing that Tony speaks highly of both of them, Margaret jokingly asks which one of them did he sleep with. To which he comments neither one.
He then reminisces about his time at school. In Sixth Form, Tony was a handsome but self-conscious young man. He Billy Howle and his two best friends accept a new member into their group, Adrian Finn Joe Alwyn , a highly intelligent boy who enjoys arguing with their teacher and considers himself an intellectual. During their time at school a classmate, Robson, dies from what many believe to be suicide after his girlfriend became pregnant.
- Dracula and Draculas Guest.
- ShieldSquare Block.
- Mr. Alibi.
Drawing on the philosophy of French existentialist Albert Camus, the friends discuss the philosophical meaning of suicide, coming to the conclusion that Robson did not die for the right reasons. After the boys graduate and go their own ways, Adrian earns a full ride to Cambridge while Tony is accepted into the University of Bristol. Tony meets and begins a relationship with Veronica Ford Freya Mavor. After some time, she takes him to meet her family.
The Sense of an Ending (film) - Wikipedia
At dinner, Tony tells Jack, who studies at Cambridge, that his best friend Adrian also studies there, but Jack does not know who that is. Later that night, Tony masturbates in the bathroom following a goodnight kiss from Veronica. The next morning, Tony wakes up and finds that Veronica, Jack and David have left for a walk, leaving him and Sarah alone in the house. As she fixes him breakfast, Sarah flirts with Tony and then subtly warns him about Veronica's true nature, but he does not immediately get it. Tony is unsure if she is waving goodbye to him or offering him a signal or warning.
When Tony returns to university, Veronica visits him to meet Adrian and the rest of their friends. They have a good time, but later on, Veronica breaks up with Tony. He later receives a letter from Adrian requesting his blessing for a romantic relationship he has begun with Veronica, to which Tony reacts strongly.