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Last Things: Essays on Ends and Endings


Edited By Gavin Hopps, Stella Neumann, Sven Strasen and Peter Wenzel

This multidisciplinary collection brings together scholars from the fields of literature, theology and linguistics who question and extend our taken-for-granted conceptions of The End. It focuses on the ways in which endings are formally signaled in literature, and sets these alongside parallel studies in journalism and film. However, it is also concerned with larger philosophical and historical notions of closure, impermanence, rupture and apocalypse as well as the possibilities of «posthumous» being. It gives examples from fairytales, Byron, Longfellow, Dillard, Barnes and South African writers.
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The Ending Written into Things: Coming to Terms with the Inescapable Ephemerality of Art: Tanya Walker (St Andrews)


Tanya Walker (St Andrews)


This chapter explores expectations and assumptions with respect to permanence and the work of art. By making a case for the inescapable ephemerality of art, it on the one hand exposes the pursuit of permanence as unrealistic and illusory and on the other affirms the need for new frameworks that can reassess art’s relationship to transience.

Death is the ending that necessarily frames and shapes all of human activity. Furthermore, the world itself displays characteristics of transience in its material and temporal nature. It is a universe, we are told by science, which has both a beginning and an expected end. History recounts the stories of cultures and peoples who once were but who now are not. Artifacts provide the limited evidence by which we know, interpret and re-create the past. Against this shadow of ephemerality, the artist creates. Using the transient materials of her world, she makes works of art, objects whose mortality and apparent immortality has become the subject of much current discussion. If endings may be considered cessations of existence, or the permanent disappearance of that which was brought into being, then the immortality of a work of art is concerned, at least partly, with the enduring material presence of the work itself. While the ephemerality of art and the pursuit of permanence is a much more complex subject than can be contained within this brief chapter, I shall attempt to outline some of the themes...

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