endings

“Actually, this is a device used brilliantly by George Borrow, whose books simply stop. I like this sense of ‘okay, that’s it’ that eloquently supersedes the expectation of surprise and closure. It’s a new kind of surprise. Little Niels Bohr is said to have shown his father a homework assignment to look over. The homework was about the periodic table, and Father noted that Niels had left out hydrogen. This was easily fixed: ‘In conclusion, I would like to mention hydrogen.’ This is worthy of Calvin, but suggests with uncorrupted honesty that grand finales are a suspect posture.”

(Guy Davenport interviewed by John Jeremiah Sullivan, The Paris Review 163.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.