For the 2011 novel, see The Sense of an Ending. The Sense of an Ending: Studies in the Theory of Fiction is the most famous work of the literary frank kermode the sense of an ending pdf Frank Kermode. It was first published in 1967 by Oxford University Press. The book originated in the Mary Flexner Lectures, given at Bryn Mawr College in 1965 under the title ‘The Long Perspectives’.
This is what he then sets out to do in the book. Kermode claims that humans are deeply uncomfortable with the idea that our lives form only a short period in the history of the world.
So much has gone before us and so much will come after us. We look for a ‘coherent pattern’ to explain this fact, and invest in the idea that we find ourselves in the middle of a story.
In order to make sense of our lives we need to find some ‘consonance’ between the beginning, the middle, and the end. Humans have always used such ‘fictions’ to impose structure on the idea of eternity, including Homer, Augustine of Hippo and Plato. Stemming from a long tradition of Christian apocalyptic thought, we now have the idea that the beginning was a golden age.
The middle is the age in which we now live, and is characterised by ‘decadence’, where what was good has declined and is in need of ‘renovation’. This allows us to explain the chaos and ‘crisis’ we see unfolding around us.