Prufrock's Page

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Reinstating 'The End'

Commenting on the trend of novelists appending biographies to their novels nowadays (Norman Mailer and Martin Amis, for example), James Wood says: “It’s terribly off-putting. It would be very odd if Thomas Hardy had put at the end of all his books, ‘I’m thankful to the Dorset County Chronicle for dialect books from the 18th century.’ We expect authors to do that work, and I don’t see why we should praise them for that work. And I don’t see why they should praise themselves for it...I like the idea that the story itself is autonomous and self-sufficient.But I’m terribly old fashioned. I wish they would reinstate ‘The End.’ ”

(The pro and con discussion in the article actually brought to mind T.S. Eliot's notes to 'The Waste Land' which were added at the request of his publisher, who needed a longer manuscript to justify printing it as a separate work.)


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