Closure and the Shape of Fictions: The Example of “Women in Love”
Readers have known that endings are important ever since men began to read or even to listen to stories. We pay tribute to the importance of endings in numerous ways. For example, even though knowing how a work ends makes it easier to analyze on a first reading, few of us really want to lose the suspense which accompanies a first reading. Therefore we commonly ask others not to “give away” the ending. When we’re baffled by a book, or consumed by curiosity and skip ahead to read the ending, we obey a contrary impulse, but one which also testifies to the importance of endings, to their ability to clarify just what a given fiction is “about.” When reviewers of films or novels almost ritualistically note and evaluate the ending of the work and its success or failure, they too acknowledge the first fact with which I begin: the importance of an ending to the form and meaning of a narrative work.
KeywordsSubsequent Reading Narrative Fiction Audience Reaction Narrative Voice Perfect Harmony
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- 1.“Preface to Roderick Hudson,” rpt. in The Art of the Novel, ed. R. P. Blackmur (New York: Scribner’s, 1907, 1962), p. 6.Google Scholar
- 2.E. M. Forster, Aspects of the Novel (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1927, 1954), pp. 149–69.Google Scholar
- 3.Frank Kermode, The Sense of an Ending (New York: Oxford, 1966), p. 148.Google Scholar
- 4.Barbara Herrnstein Smith, Poetic Closure (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1968); David Richter,Fable’s End (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1978).Google Scholar
- Forster, Aspects of the Novel, pp. 26–27; in James, see p. 6.Google Scholar
- 6.D. H. Lawrence, Women in Love (New York: Penguin, 1920, 1977), pp. 472–73.Google Scholar
- 9.George H. Ford, “An Introductory Note to D. H. Lawrence’s Prologue to Women in Love,” The Texas Quarterly (Spring, 1963), pp. 92–97.Google Scholar