Fine della strada
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Fine della strada

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  948 ratings  ·  71 reviews
Its first-person protagonist, Jacob Horner, suffers from nihilistic paralysis: an inability to choose a course of action. As part of a schedule of unorthodox therapies, Horner's nameless Doctor has him take a teaching job at a local teachers college. There Horner befriends the super-rational existentialist Joe Morgan and his wife Rennie, with whom he becomes entangled in a...more
Paperback, BUR, 239 pages
Published 1976 by Rizzoli (first published 1958)
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Ian Paganus
The Existence of Metaphysics Precedes the Essence of Metafiction

Barth’s second novel, "The End of the Road" ("TEOTR"), is now usually packaged as part of one volume with his first novel, "The Floating Opera".

In the introduction to the package, Barth gives the impression that "TEOTR" is the lesser of the two, and that both are inferior to his later, more metafictional works. However, there is much of value in both works and especially in "TEOTR".

It's a deeply philosophical novel. However, what a...more
La risposta americana al Roquentin di Sartre.
Esistenzialismo, nichilismo, humour nero, risate e tragedie.
Barth si riconferma uno degli scrittori che più catturano la mia attenzione. Siamo anime molto affini, soprattutto dal punto di vista filosofico. Avrei preferito un po’ meno azione e un po’ più Jacob Horner, ma si vede che di Todd Andrews ce n’è uno solo, e va bene così.
Mar 28, 2012 Stephan added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: paralyzed existentialists
In 1951, on the day after his 28th birthday, with his oral exams passed but his master's thesis not even begun, Jacob Horner finds himself in a Baltimore train station, asking the ticket agent where he can go for $30. Cincinnati, Ohio? Crestline, Dayton or Lima, Ohio? He retreats to a bench to make up his mind, but there realizes he has no reason to go anywhere -- not to Ohio, not even back to his apartment. "I simply ran out of motives, as a car runs out of gas," he says. "There was no reason t...more
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
"Whereas the book ends with an abortion, the film is an abortion from beginning to end." --John Barth endorsing a reviewer's judgement.

[Have not seen the film yet. Likely it will never be dvd-released. Probably no need to do so]
Once in highschool, I asked one of my more blowhardish teachers (with all the earnestness of a truly desperate cult adherent), "What do I read when nothing in life seems to matter?"

His prescription for my malady was John Barth's End of the Road -- and I'm still recovering from his misdiagnosis. I asked how to get away from that crushing, all-consuming, momentum-sapping conviction that life is meaningless and absurd -- not a half-assed modernist vindication of it! This book describes a protagoni...more
An excerpt from my book journal on "The End of the Road"

Jake and Joe
The two characters, both Jacob Horner and Joe Morgan, are obviously deranged, highly functional madmen who have come to grips with their manias enough to wield them as tools. The fact that these two men met each other is a cosmic comedy in of itself, but it is a testament to Barth's writing that he avoids making these two characters the most deplorable creatures (at least in my opinion). In many ways, they are animals who roam u...more
Wack! Part of the time I had no solid idea what was going on. Our main character Jake is manic depressive but often finds himself in states where he feels nothing at all. He likens his mind to "weather" and when it is void and there is nothing going thru it at all, he sits in his chair and rocks and nothing happens for hours on end in his head or with his person. He is in a state of paralysis. Sounds Buddhist in today's parlance but I don't think that's what's going on for Jake.

Nutter that he i...more
Diane Lander-Simon
Oct 01, 2007 Diane Lander-Simon rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: EVERYONE
Shelves: booksiloved
To quote the author, "I wanted the adventure to teach me this about myself: that regardless of what shifting opinions I held about ethical matters in the abstract, I was not so consistently the same person (not so sufficiently "real") that I could not involve myself seriously in the lives of others without doing damage all around, not least to my own tranquility; that my irrational flashes of conscience and cruelty, of compassion and cynicism - in short my inability to play the same role long en...more
Most useful book I own. I started reading existential literature when, at age 17, I got the U of Illinois pre - enrollment summer reading list. Kafka and Beckett and a host of other existential writers posit persuasively the meaninglessness of human actions / decisions / effort. To quote the the old poem "you are a fluke of the universe ......... give up". Most existential writing (I'm thinking of Metamorphisis and Godot here) recommend giving up. Barth poses 3 decision rules to allow us to choo...more
Lukasz Pruski
I read the translation of John Barth's "The End of the Road" in my mid-twenties, over thirty five years ago, and I loved the book. I have now reread it and it is a split verdict. The first two thirds or maybe three fourths of the novel are absolutely brilliant. I have been stunned by the number of sharp observations of and deep insights into human psychology and behavior. But then, there is also the last part, plot-heavy, pedestrian, and quite implausible. It seems it comes from an altogether di...more
I first read this book many years ago while in graduate school and was very taken with it. It did not have that impact this time around, though I could only find the 1969 edition which apparently was revised by the author. Perhaps something in the earlier approach connected with me better.

Barth seemed to me to be a very symbolic writer, and I never managed to sort that level out in this book (if indeed it's there). The plot is basically about the interplay between three characters -- Jake, the p...more
Abe Something
Sometimes even the most awful people reflect directly back into you. Jacob Horner is the most vile character ever written. This book will crush your soul - will leave you feeling empty - horrible - you'll be in despair ... you will marvel at Barth's skilled hand. Barth can write. If you can read, read this. It is a literary experience the way such experiences should be.

I can't say anything regarding plot points because ever turn of the road is important for you to navigate with a fresh mind.
Herman D'Hollander
I first read the novel in 1980 and found it excellent. Since then I had forgotten most of the story, except for a vague recollection of a particularly tense moment involving life and death. During my recent second reading I discovered it was the scene with Joe, Rennie, Jake and the pistol in the middle. Back in the eighties I was impressed with the profound dialogues and the existential quagmire these middle class intellectuals (especially Joe) talked (and fornicated) themselves into. Today I am...more
This is a strange little book, though less obviously so than John Barth's other, more experimental and ambitious novels. It's certainly much closer to traditional narrative than the many novels that followed it, but beneath its seemingly straightforward surface the novel does mask some hints at Barth's later identity as a postmodern trickster without equal: Specifically, the book incorporates some philosophical discussions into the action that prove necessary windows into the motives of its char...more
Again, just a micro review. Enjoyed it a lot, don't know why it took me so long to get around to it.

There's a memorable and merciless scene involving a boy scout uniform that has stuck in my mind for years. 'Nuff said.
My favorite existentialist novel. Of course, it doesn't really matter that it is my favorite. Nothing really matters...
Una storia abbastanza surreale con personaggi stravaganti.

Il protagonista Jacob Horner racconta in prima persona l’incontro per motivi di lavoro con una coppia quantomeno originale per il tipo di vita che conduce e per quanto riguarda alcune convinzioni.

La narrazione non è sempre lineare e capita che il tipo di racconto spesso prenda pieghe diverse passando da un genere all’altro facendo in questo modo diventare imprevedibile una trama che in alcuni momenti sembrerebbe abbastanza scontata.

Un lib...more
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If you're looking for a novel with admirable or heroic characters, this isn't it. Still, it's an amazingly powerful, provocative and refreshingly original experience that forces the reader to examine much of what one may take for granted about one's own behavior. Barth takes a fairly banal situation (the narrator, Jacob Horner, is a young, unambitious English grammar professor who befriends another professor and his wife, then has an affair with the wife and must face the consequences) and squee...more
Barth wrote this second novel as a companion to his first, The Floating Opera. Again he investigates marriage and infidelity, but while in The Floating Opera almost all was felicitous, The End of the Road is dark and rests on catastrophe.

Jacob Horner, the main character and narrator, could be straight from a Patricia Highsmith story. Amoral, self-centered and borderline psychopathic, he is under treatment by an eccentric and experimental psychiatrist, probably unlicensed, who is mainly intereste...more
I've always gone by the idea that I prefer writing over plot. If I like the writing, if I feel the author is competent and intelligent, I'm willing to go wherever the author wants to take me. The End of the Road might be the book that tears that theory to shreds. I love John Barth generally. I have tremendous affection for the Sot Weed Factor, which is, I think, one of the funniest books of the second half of the twentieth century. The End of the Road starts out just as well. A young man on the...more
Felix Zilich
Два года назад Джек Хорнер был простым университетским аспирантом – меланхолично писал свой тезис, планировал работать преподавателем. Но однажды осенью его настигла космическая тоска, он воспарил над бытием и осознал его абсолютную бессмысленность. Парализованный “космопсисом” Хорнер сутки просидел на скамейке местного автовокзала, пока на него не обратил внимание респектабельный пожилой негр. По словам негра он был доктором и всю жизнь лечил паралич – физиологический и психический. Доктор сказ...more
Ho letto La fine della strada in un paio di giorni, cosa che mi capita raramente ultimamente.
Solitamente tendo ad allungare i tempi di lettura all'infinito, magari leggendo diversi libri contemporaneamente.
In questo caso sono rimasto magnetizzato dalla scrittura di Barth in modo insolito, quasi morboso.
Se non sapessi che John Barth è considerato un padre della letteratura postmoderna di certo non me ne sarei accorto leggendo il libro.
Per diverse ragioni. Forse perché non ho ancora chiara la defi...more
By contrast with the sprawling experimentalism of Giles Goat-Boy and The Sot-Weed Factor, this earlier work of Barth's is comparatively spare and a bit grim.

Its basic story of an adulterous triangle in a 1950s American suburban setting, ending in despair for lack of moral and ethical alternatives, and death for lack of abortion availability, is so similar to Richard Yates' Revolutionary Road that I had to check which was published first (this was). I guess this critique of the American middle-...more
John Barth reminds me of T.C. Boyle.

There's no denying that both of them are great writers, that what they can do to/with a sentence can be nothing short of jaw dropping at the best of times, usually still entertaining at the worst of them.

But they don't know what they want to say.

Boyle, I'm not sure has anything to say, but Barth just hasn't discovered it yet. Not that I'm opposed to someone seeking "truth" through a novel, but the two (now) books I've read by Barth are remarkably similar.

By a strange coincidence I read this right after Bernard Malamud's A New Life , which is, like this one, a very bitter comedy about a grammar teacher in a small college becoming part of a love triangle. Unlike Malamud's hopeful dreamers, Barth's guy is a different and difficult creature: sort of an existentialist narrator, but one who doesn't assume that his own apathy says anything about the world in general. His life has been short-circuited by manic depression, but since he knows he can't tru...more
Stephen Hoosegow IV Jr.
This is some book.

The characters are interesting: one that can see all sides of any proposition and is rarely enthusiastic to choose any of them, the rationalist true believer who thinks that rational inquiry will provide all the answers if the application is pure enough, and his wife who wants to be an adherent, maybe.

Some very memorable scenes. Definitely check this interesting book out.
I picked up The End of the Road on a whim, on a visit to my father's house when I was looking for something to read on the bus ride back to New York. I remebered having liked the Barth that I had read, it was short enough to read on the five-hour Fung Wah trip, and it had a quaintly dated looking cover that appealed to me. Sadly, the novel contained within was also quaintly dated to a degree that rendered this one a largely unenlinghtening relic from a different era, full of observations about r...more
I first read this book in the late '60's or the early '70's. For some reason, the book was still on my bookshelf. So, a couple of days ago, I picked it up and read it again.

It was odd. As I read, I remembered the parts that I just finished, but the rest of the plot or story did not come back. When I first read the book, the angst of the characters in their twenties would have been a familiar topic. Now, four decades later, I am truly glad that it is behind me.

This was the 3rd or 4th book by Jo...more
Jake Berlin
the philosophical aspects of the book get in the way, particularly in the dialogue. and the story itself seems forced. there are some occasional interesting observations, and there is truth in the baldness of the characters, but on the whole this reads like an author's early work, which it is.
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"John Simmons Barth (born May 27, 1930) is an American novelist and short-story writer, known for the postmodernist and metafictive quality of his work.

John Barth was born in Cambridge, Maryland, and briefly studied "Elementary Theory and Advanced Orchestration" at Juilliard before attending Johns Hopkins University, receiving a B.A. in 1951 and an M.A. in 1952 (for which he wrote a thesis novel,...more
More about John Barth...
The Sot-Weed Factor Lost in the Funhouse The Floating Opera and The End of the Road Giles Goat-Boy Chimera

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“Articulation! There, by Joe, was MY absolute, if I could be said to have one. At any rate, it is the only thing I can think of about which I ever had, with any frequency at all, the feelings one usually has for one's absolutes. To turn experience into speech - that is, to classify, to categorize, to conceptualize, to grammarize, to syntactify it - is always a betrayal of experience, a falsification of it; but only so betrayed can it be dealt with at all, and only in so dealing with it did I ever feel a man, alive and kicking.” 4 likes
“path's should be laid where people walk, instead of walking where paths are laid-” 4 likes
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