Wednesday, October 19, 2011
More Thoughts on The Sense of an Ending
The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes received the Man Booker Prize yesterday. I think the award is deserved. I reviewed the book back in August and since then my post has received about 1,000 hits. Surprising I know. I think it's because this is a book that begs to be discussed and analyzed. Here's the link to my review. If you've read the book then do read the comments section because it's interesting to see how readers had different interpretations. Reading my review, I see that I had several questions at the time that were nagging at me - Why did Veronica's mother leave the bequest to Tony? What did Veronica mean by 'blood money?' What did the carer mean by 'especially now?' Why did Barnes leave so many questions unanswered?
I still don't have the answers to these questions but since reading the book I saw for the second time the brilliant movie Caché (Hidden). It's a French-Austrian film written and directed by Michael Haneke. It has nothing whatsoever in common with The Sense of an Ending except for having unanswered questions in the end. After seeing the movie, I read an interview with Michael Haneke who said that if you 'come out wanting to know who (the culprit is), you didn't understand the film. To ask this question is to avoid asking the real question the film raises. Films that are entertainment give simple answers but I think that's ultimately more cynical, as it denies the viewer room to think. If there are more answers at the end, then surely it is a richer experience.'
After seeing that movie, I thought again of The Sense of an Ending and realized that Haneke's words could be applied to Barnes' book. It was Barnes intention not to give all the answers but to actually leave more questions. However, I was asking all the wrong questions. Maybe the right ones are - What is memory? Do we accurately remember events in our past? Could we unintentionally have blocked out some memories?