Famous last words…

Photo: istock/keira01

It’s back to school time again, so let’s brush up on some great literature that we might have studied.

Everybody recalls the opening words of Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities.”  But do you remember the last sentence?  I’ll bet you do.

“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.” 


However, you probably won’t recognize the last sentence from many other famous works of literature—assuming, of course, that you managed to read that far.

“Thus, then, did they celebrate the funeral of Hector tamer of horses.” 

Homer, The Iliad


“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”

The last sentence of the New Testament.


“So call the field to rest; and let’s away,
To part the glories of this happy day.”

Shakespeare, Julius Caesar


“He loved Big Brother.”

Orwell, 1984


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

Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby 


“They hand in hand with wand’ring steps and slow,
Through EDEN took their solitary way.”

Milton, Paradise Lost


“After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain.”

Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms


“‘Like a dog!’ he said, it was as if the shame of it must outlive him.”

Kafka, The Trial


“Where I am, I don’t know, I’ll never know, in the silence you don’t know, you must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on.”

Beckett, The Unnamable


“That is very well put, said Candide, but we must go and work our garden.”

Voltaire, Candide


“That might be the subject of a new story, but our present story is ended.”

Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment


And then, perhaps, the most famous literary last words of all:

“ . . . and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.”

Joyce, Ulysses

If any of you have a favorite final sentence, I’d like to hear it.

But no movies, please.  “That might be the subject of a new story.”


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