Wednesday 22 April 2009


The search is on, over at D.G. Myers' place, for great last lines of novels. Naturally Lolita comes to mind - 'I am thinking of aurochs and angels, the secret of durable pigments, prophetic sonnets, the refuge of art. And this is the only immortality you and I may share, my Lolita.' And then, still thinking of aurochs, I find this story. I shall cherish that headline...


  1. that is indeed a mighty headline

  2. My daughter pointed out to me that 'ubër-ox' in the article is mis-umlauted: über-ox. Where's a good subeditor when you need one? Oh, right, they're mostly being made redundant. But why didn't I catch that before I sent it to a German teacher? I've been reading the tweets of Twitterers lately. Can I blame that for the decline of my reading skills?

  3. My favourite ever last sentence is, I think, the one that concludes Henry Green's Loving. Just when you have resigned yourself to the tragic conclusion that seems to have been signposted all the way through, Green hits you with this:

    "Over in England they were married and lived happily ever after."

    Of course you could read this cynically, but I have always preferred not to.

    Also, and by contrast, the last sentence of the same author's Doting: "The next day they all went on very much the same."

  4. "Below the bows of the Arrawa a child's coffin moved into the night stream. Its paper flowers were shaken loose by the wash of a landing craft carrying soldiers from the American cruiser. The flowers formed a wavering garland around the coffin as it began its long journey to the estuary of the Yangtze, only to be swept back by the incoming tide among the quays and mud flats, driven once again to the shores of the terrible city."

    Oh well, make that last paragraph.

  5. Well timed, Mark - and Dave, that'll be a heavy metal umlaut, i.e. randomly placed... Nice stuff, Jonathan - I must try Henry Green again, could never quite get into him...

  6. Old English rune poem (translated into Modern) for the Uruz rune:

    Aurochs is fearless and greatly horned
    A very fierce beast, it fights with its horns
    A famous roamer of the moor, it is a courageous animal.

  7. The Times piece about the aurochs yesterday mentioned that the last recorded animal died in Poland in the 17th century, after belated efforts to preserve the species failed. Is this the earliest known attempt at conservation?

  8. I reckon it lost the will to live Sophie. Entirely understandable...

  9. I have the same trouble with Henry Green, and said as much to Patrick Kurp. I hope that he will not mind my sharing his reply: “Green is an acquired taste, I’m sure. But I like him very much. He clearly learned much from the Garnett translations of Chekhov.”

    Perhaps the right order of things is to read some Chekhov translated by Garnett and only then read Green.

    If I ever get around to it, at least, that is what I shall try.