But that's for another post, another day.
Today I want to bookend my previous post about great first lines by posting some great last lines. The editors at American Book Review chose 100 Best Last Lines as they did First Lines.
Why is the last line of any import? It is the farewell, and it should be bittersweet.
I'm going to list a few from the Review editors, and as last time I will put the rank they gave it, the line in italics and then the author and title.
#1: ...you must go on, I can't go on, I'll go on.
Samuel Beckett, The Unnamable
#2: Who knows but that, on the lower frequencies, I speak for you?
Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man
#3: So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
#5: But I reckon I got to light out for the territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she's going to adopt me and sivilize me and I can't stand it. I been there before.
Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
#41: I lingered round them, under the benign sky; watched the moths fluttering among the heath, and hare-bells; listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass; and wondered how anyone could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth.
Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights
To me, these endings leave a lot to imagination. There are futures in them. I want to add a few more that weren't on the Review list. These come from challenged books I loved reading; for more on what challenged books are check out Banned Books Week. Among these is one I've always thought was one of the best endings I'd ever read:
So Lyra and her daemon turned away from the world they were born in, and looked toward the sun, and walked into the sky.
Philip Pullman, The Golden Compass
But they never learned what it was that Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who, and Mrs Which had to do, for there was a gust of wind, and they were gone.
Madeleine L'Engle, A Wrinkle in Time
Behind him, across vast distances of space and time, from the place he had left, he thought he heard music too. But perhaps it was only an echo.
Lois Lowry, The Giver
Whether this is my end or a new beginning I have no way of knowing: I have given myself over into the hands of strangers, because it can't be helped. And so I step up, into the darkness within; or else the light.
Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale
Interestingly, the Review chose a final line from The Handmaid's Tale but from the section called Historical Notes after the main story ends. It is: Are there any questions?
How do you feel about the above as ending lines? Do you have one that stuck to you long after you closed the book?