A friend’s recent musings on literary endings prompted some of my own.
This last Saturday, in a small park closest to the Barnes & Noble in our area, I saw three young women reading the last Harry Potter book. It even prompted my wife to want to get back into the series, though she has only read the first book and that was many years ago.
My favorite series of books was Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin adventures. Sadly the author died before ever properly completing the series, and I have never had the heart to pick up the last uncompleted, yet still published, book in the series.
I am now finishing Robert Graves’ Claudius the God and I dread the tragic ending that looms.
These fictional characters become our friends, beings we know as intimately as we know ourselves. We feel their loss as deeply as any flesh and blood relation’s. We dread their death, and unlike the living, we can delay their doom with our own imaginings and an aversion to their author’s act of execution. We postpone the hanging by postponing our attendance. But like Orpheus longing for Eurydice, we cannot help but take one final look.