Quote of The Week: John Gardner (on Endings)

John Gardner

“A novel is like a symphony in that its closing movement echoes and resounds with all that has gone before. Toward the close of a novel, the writer brings back — directly or in the form of his characters recollections — images, characters, events, and intellectual motifs encountered earlier. Unexpected connections begin to surface; hidden causes become plain; life becomes, however briefly and unstably, organized; the universe reveals itself, if only for the moment, as inexorably moral; the outcome of the various characters’ actions is at least manifest; and we see the responsibility of free will.” – John Gardner (From The Art Of Fiction).

John Gardner was an American novelist, essayist, literary critic and university professor. He is perhaps most noted for his Grendel novel , a retelling of the Beowulf myth from the monster’s point of view. Other notable novels include The Sunlight Diaries, October Light, and his craft book The Art of Fiction.

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5 Responses to “Quote of The Week: John Gardner (on Endings)”

  1. Laura says:

    I love the quote and the ideas he expresses. I think he’s absolutely right. Endings are hard to do. It takes patience and planning to bring off a powerful finale.

    Thanks for the quote, Ingrid. It’s nice to have you back!

  2. Corinne says:

    wow. How beautifully he captures the notion of the ending being so much more than it seems.

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by KidLit, Ingrid Sundberg. Ingrid Sundberg said: Quote of the Week: John Gardner (on endings) "A novel is like a symphony…" http://tinyurl.com/47yof5w #writing #amwriting #writetip […]

  4. Laurie says:

    Ingrid, thank you for offering this quote. Gardner’s The Art of Fiction is a perennial favorite with both colleagues and students of the craft, and I’m pleased to see that his work’s still appreciated out there in the commercial publishing world. And I applaud your questioning & questing spirit (even if the Hero’s Journey is a paternalistic relic, it still works…), apparent in your recent posts.
    Finally, I’m curious about your current “I’m Reading” books: How did you happen upon them? Will you be offering reviews soon?
    L

    • Hi Laurie,

      My list of books “I’m Reading” comes from a lot of sources. Most from suggestions by friends and fellow writers, some I hear about at conferences from agents and editors, or from following lots of kidlit peeps on twitter. I also live right near a great independent book store and if I ask the lovely ladies in the children’s book section about a particular theme or topic I’m interested in, then they can point me in the right direction. I’m also developing a list of craft books to share with everyone here on the blog. Look for that soon! Thanks for checking out my blog!

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