December 20, 2010

Of Beginnings and Endings in Novels

Posted in Arabic, Books - Fav. Selections, Books Reviews, English at 12:47 am by Rou...

An interesting topic about the beginnings and endings of novels that mostly affect us was opened on PTP, and I was so excited when Nerro mentioned the opening lines of my all times favorite novel “A tale of two cities” calling them the world’s best opening lines:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

I couldn’t agree more, and in fact, since I am really biased to this novel and all its characters, I also find its ending lines that were uttered by its main hero and my favorite fiction character ever Sydney Carton affecting me the most… Preceded by a long imaginary thoughts of what might have been on his mind just before he went to the guillotine picturing how beautiful this place would be after the blood and anger of the French Revolution would reach its end, with the reader knowing how miserable Carton’s life had been, perhaps no end could have been better than these lines…

“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”

One of the best ending lines from my opinion was also that of Bahaa Taher’s masterpiece “نقطة النور”… As if it puts an end to the loss, worry, drifting, and self seeking that invades you all over that novel through its characters, and leave you with this stunning fact… that after all, we’re all humans, and we’re all good at heart, and that love can actually heal your soul…

ـ حدثني ماذا يقول جدك عن الأرواح…؟
ـيقول كل الأرواح جميلة وكلها طيبة
ـ وهل قال لك يا سالم ما الذي ينقذ هذه الأرواح…؟
ـ نعم، قال الحب

Khaled Hosseini’s brilliant novel “The Kite Runner” too has one of the best closures from my point of view, with a long hoped for healing finally reached…

“‘For you, a thousand times over’, I heard myself say.
Then I turned and ran.
It was only a smile, nothing more. It didn’t make everything alright. It didn’t make anything alright. Only a smile. A tiny thing. A leaf in the woods, shaking in the wake of a startled bird’s flight.
But I’ll take it. With open arms. Because when spring comes, it melts the snow one flake at a time, and maybe I just witnessed the first flake melting.
I ran.
A grown man running with a swarm of screaming children. But I didn’t care. I ran with the wind blowing in my face, and a smile as wide as the Valley of Panjsher on my lips.
I ran.”

I can go on forever… so; I’ll just end my post with one of the most breathtaking beginning lines from my opinion, which actually forced me to finish the whole novel in 2 days… I’m talking about the starting lines of “الإعترافات” by Rabee’ Jaber…

“أبي كان يخطف الناس ويقتلهم. أخي يقول إنَّه رأى أبي يتحول في الحرب من شخص يعرفه إلى شخص لا يعرفه. هذا أخي الكبير. أخي الصغير لم أعرفه، أعرف صورته، أعرف وجهه، يشبهني في الصور ــ كان يشبهني ــ أكثر مما يشبه أخي الكبير. أسميه أخي الصغير وكنا كلنا في البيت نسميه ــ في رؤوسنا نسميه، حتى من دون أن نذكره ونحن نحكي، كانت صوره تملأ البيت ــ ماذا كنت أقول؟ أسميه أخي الصغير ولم يكن أخي الصغير ولكنه الصغير لأنه ظل صغيرًا، لأنه لم يكبر، لأنهم قتلوه وهو صغير.”

All the best,


  1. Juka said,

    Amazing choices! I totally concur.

  2. Rou... said,

    Thank you ya Juka 🙂

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