Exit Lines

American Book Review picks their 100 Best Last Lines from novels.

I’ve posted here before about first lines, but not about closing lines. My favorites from the ABR list:

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 (1885)

8. It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known. –Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1859)

57. “All that is very well,” answered Candide, “but let us cultivate our garden.”
–Voltaire, Candide (1759; trans. Robert M. Adams)

77. Tomorrow, I’ll think of some way to get him back. After all, tomorrow is another day. –Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind (1936)

There were others that read pretty well, but I hadn’t read the books they came from and so couldn’t be sure that they meant what I thought they meant.

Can you guess which books end with each of these famous lines?

1. He drew a deep breath. “Well, I’m back,” he said.

2. And there they died upon a Good Friday for God’s sake.

3. So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

4. Now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story, which no one on earth has read; which goes on forever; in which every chapter is better than the one before.

5. He knelt by the bed and bent over her, draining their last moment to its lees; and in the silence there passed between them the word which made all clear.

The end. At last. An essay on last lines from The Telegraph.

5 thoughts on “Exit Lines

  1. Are we allowed to post our guesses here in the comments? (Please delete if not.) I’m pretty sure that the first guess (“Well, I’m back.”) is Sam’s line from the end of Lord of the Rings.

  2. #4 is the last line from Lewis’s The Last Battle, I’m pretty sure.

  3. Sure, post your guesses, and you’re right about the first one.

  4. And number four is The Last Battle.

  5. Late to the party, but #3 is from The Great Gatsby. (I also knew The Last Battle, but it already had been guessed.)

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