Memory, Truth, and Différance in Julian Barnes' The Sense of an Ending


  • Alberto Rossi



Julian Barnes’ successful novel The Sense of an Ending has been generating diverse interpretations, as it is told by a completely unreliable narrator. As it is said in the first part of this article, though, the tendency of the critics so far has been that of trusting the narrator himself in the last confession he makes at the end of his recounting. On the contrary, in the second part of the present essay the author tries to give meaning to the reported story, not through what the narrator says, but through a few proofs scattered all over the novel which demonstrate that even the finale is in essence a lie or, at least, only a partial truth. This is probably because the narrator is being untruthful to himself as well, in order not to feel guilty for a misdeed he committed during his youth. In the last two parts, through references to several French thinkers, the author of the article demonstrates that the bone of contention, that is, what in the end the reader finds out to be the narrator's son, is a form of (in Derrida's terminology) différance, in other words an incomplete identity created by means of the narrator's identification.


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