Intertextual relationship

[…] Her gaze caught on the title The Sense of an End­ing by Julian Barnes. A thin book — she would be a long way to come with­in an hour. She snug­gled on the couch.
Read­ing the first words (I remem­ber) how­ev­er, she was already dis­tract­ed. It was always the same mem­o­ries, no mat­ter how hard she con­cen­trat­ed, how she tried to relive the mem­o­ry even in slow motion, frame by frame.
[p.50, The Evo­lu­tion of a mar­riage, Rebec­ca W.R. Brem­mer]
[trans­la­tion by me]

When we were asked to read the lat­est nov­el of Rebec­ca W.R. Brem­mer for A per­fect day for lit­er­a­ture  we received instead of a book a large pile of loose A4 sheets. It was the first print in draft. Some­thing I con­sid­ered very spe­cial, because rarely you get as an ‘ordi­nary’ read­er at such an ear­ly stage the new work by an author under eyes. It had as a side-effect that mak­ing notes in the text became a lot eas­i­er.

After we put our reviews online I had to make some extra space avail­able in my book­case to store this paper moun­tain. I had for­got­ten that we would get the “offi­cial” copy of The evo­lu­tion of a mar­riage at a lat­er moment.

Yes­ter­day the book was wait­ing on the door­mat. Togeth­er with anoth­er book that I had ordered: The Sense of an End­ing. While read­ing the nov­el by Brem­mer I had not­ed in the mar­gins next to the quote men­tioned above the fol­low­ing remark: ‘buy and read!’. So when I was order­ing The cook­book for run­ners  last week I checked my wish­list and thus ordered the book by Julian Barnes.

I could not resist start read­ing yes­ter­day evening.

We fin­ished our tea. I wrapped up the two remain­ing slices of cake and put them in a tin. Veron­i­ca kissed me near­er the cor­ner of my lips than the cen­ter, and then left. In my mind, this was the begin­ning of the end of our rela­tion­ship. Or have I just remem­bered it this way to make it Seem so, and to appor­tion blame?
[p.35, The Sense of an End­ing, Julian Barnes]

Not much fur­ther the rela­tion­ship is indeed end­ed. And again not much fur­ther it seems that Veron­i­ca has become inti­mate with one of the best friends of the nar­ra­tor.

Could it have altered my read­ing expe­ri­ence of The Evo­lu­tion of a mar­riage when I would have read The Sense of an End­ing before? Would Rebec­ca W. R. Brem­mer have had some spe­cif­ic rea­son for her cen­tral char­ac­ter (Masha) to pick this title? Is it because of read­ing The sense of an end­ing that I begin to see cer­tain aspects of The evo­lu­tion of a mar­riage in anoth­er light? Is it patron­iz­ing of an author to men­tion a link to anoth­er (relat­ed?) text so promi­nent or is it just a tongue in cheek ges­ture to the (know­ing?) read­er? Is there a dan­ger that the read­er has a com­plete dif­fer­ent pic­ture of The Sense of an End­ing than the author and there­fore the read­er is thus unin­ten­tion­al­ly mak­ing false con­clu­sions?

All these ques­tions arose while I was read­ing. Maybe I’ll come back with some answers (or more ques­tions). But first I will con­tin­ue read­ing the book. Up to now, I find it delight­ful lit­er­a­ture!


Tony Web­ster and his clique first met Adri­an Finn at school. Sex-hun­gry and book-hun­gry, they would nav­i­gate the girl-less sixth form togeth­er, trad­ing in affec­ta­tion, in-jokes, rumour and wit. Maybe Adri­an was a lit­tle more seri­ous than the oth­ers, cer­tain­ly more intel­li­gent, but they all swore to stay friends for life.
Now Tony is retired. He’s had a career and a sin­gle mar­riage, a calm divorce. He’s cer­tain­ly nev­er tried to hurt any­body. Mem­o­ry, though, is imper­fect. It can always throw up sur­pris­es, as a lawyer’s let­ter is about to prove.

The Sense of an End­ing
Julian Barnes
Pub­lish­er Jonathan Cape
ISBN 9780224094153

[Lees in het Ned­er­lands]

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