Musings, Thoughts & Commentaries
F Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (My second favorite)
"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."
Perhaps the most frequently quoted final sentence. One of those endings that suggests the opposite of an ending: you may want to "move on", but you keep getting taken back to the story you thought you'd finished. Bugs me. My daughter Emily and I walk around quoting and twisting this message.
George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four
This is the terrible one because, by the time you get to it, you realize how inevitable it is. Winston Smith's fate is not just to be defeated, but to have his will turned to submission. "He loved Big Brother." Bothers me as I think now about 2024 so far into future let alone 2084! I read the novel in 1964 and did not understand, but now I do. The world is more of a mess than even Orwell could have imagined.
Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms
"After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain."
At the end of this novel of love and war, hope and desperation, all passion is spent. The narrator's lover has died in childbirth and the only possible conclusion is one of those perfect Hemingway sentences, expressively drained of expressiveness. I have been there and done that. But then sang “Dancing in the Rain” walking the streets in Spain where Hemingway once lived.
We must wander into French for one of the most discussed final sayings in fiction. "'Cela est bien dit,' répondit Candide, 'mais il faut cultiver notre jardin'."
After everything absurd and horrific that they have seen, after travelling the globe to witness the extremes of human folly and cruelty, Candide recommends a little horticulture. Endless ink has been spent explaining what Voltaire was "saying". I translate as “Whatever, let’s just go work in our garden.”
Franz Kafka, The Trial
The ultimate finality, the moment of the protagonist's death. As a knife twists in his heart, Josef K realizes that it is the victim who is ashamed, not the perpetrator. "'Like a dog!' he said, it was as if the shame of it must outlive him." In German, wie ein Hund. I keep re-reading in original German. I see new things every time from a different perspective. Kafka inspires me yet drives me nuts.
Samuel Beckett, The Unnamable
"Where I am, I don't know, I'll never know, in the silence you don't know, you must go on, I can't go on, I'll go on."
Tom Anthony, Rebels of Mindanao
“I like the feel of the earth in my hands, and you will be teaching our child. You have already planted the seed.”
Tom Anthony is a West Point Graduate and combat veteran who spent his professional civilian career in global business all over the world. He has lived and worked in Austria, Italy, Spain, England, Iraq, Israel, and throughout Asia, Latin America, and Africa. Anthony also lived in Mindanao for seven years.
Copyright 2017 Tom Anthony.