the sense of an ending

There must be supra-literary forces, cultural pressures, which tend to make us seek narrative coherence, just as we expect a conundrum to have an answer, and a joke a point. Our whole practice of reading is founded on such expectations, and of course the existence of such genres as the pointless joke and the deviant conundrum depends upon the prior existence of the normal sort. Just so do detective novels depend upon the coherence of elements in an occult plot that declares itself only as the book ends. There are detective novels, of which Robbe-Grillet’s The Erasers is the supreme example, which disobey this convention; but, far from disregarding it, they depend upon it for their effect.

Frank Kermode

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