Quotes from ‘The sense of an ending’ by Julian Barnes

Read the review for the book

History is that certainty that is produced where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation.

In the law’s view, if you killed yourself, you were by definition mad, at least at the time you were committing the act. The law and society and religion all said it was impossible to be sane, healthy and to kill yourself. Perhaps those authorities feared that the suicide’s reasoning might impugn the nature and value of life as organized by the state that paid the coroner?

He thought logically and then acted upon the conclusions of logical thought. Whereas most of us, I suspect, do the opposite: we make an instinctive decision, then build up an infrastructure of reasoning to justify it. And call the result common sense.

The same old adolescent boredom goes from one generation to another. Also the same sardonic wit is used to escape from it.

When we are young, we invent different futures for ourselves; when we are old, we invent different pasts for others.

Time ... how time first grounds us then confounds us. We thought we were being mature when we were only being safe. We imagined we were being responsible but we were only being cowardly. What we called realism turned out to be a way of avoiding things rather than facing them. Time ... give us enough time and our best supported decisions will seem wobbly, our certainties whimsical.

Time … how time first grounds us then confounds us. We thought we were being mature when we were only being safe. We imagined we were being responsible but we were only being cowardly. What we called realism turned out to be a way of avoiding things rather than facing them. Time … give us enough time and our best supported decisions will seem wobbly, our certainties whimsical.

‘Can I ask you something?’
‘You always do,’ she replied.
‘Did you leave me because of me?’
‘No,’ she said. ‘I left you because of us.’

Just as all political and historical change sooner or later disappoints, so does adulthood. So does life. Sometimes I think the purpose of life is to reconcile us to its eventual loss by wearing us down, by proving however long it takes, that life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

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