Fine della strada
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Fine della strada

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  850 ratings  ·  64 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)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,602)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
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
Reviews of this book, in part, will vary by the degree to which one is able to relate to its themes and characters. That I find this book exceedingly relatable contributes partially to my having given it five stars, and is primarily the reason I had become so enthralled in it from the start. The circumstances contained in the book make it a devastating read; the characters and events, however, are considerably benign with respect to destructive potential. We are not dealing with iniquitous chara...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
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.
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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.
Thorne Clark
This book was very lazy from a technical standpoint. Huge passages of (droll) philosophical discussions were tidied up at the end on multiple occasions with a breezy "oh, the conversation didn't actually happen that way, so I'm just summing it up here." The characters were extraordinarily far-fetched -- mouthpieces for these long tracts of lonely dialectic. The book felt very much like a shell of fiction to hold what would have been better presented as an essay. And the ideas presented just were...more
When I was a young man in the 70s, John Barth was all the rage and I read a couple of his books, and put down some others. Perhaps I was just too busy with grad school to give him the attention others felt he deserved. I enjoyed End of the Road, and it does contain one of my favorite lines from literature. (The protagonist college English teacher is parsing sentences on the board while the spring leaves and buds are ripening and the co-eds sem to also be ripening and thinks to himself: I'd like...more
Justin Mitchell
My embarrassment at ever liking Barth only grows...what amoral, hyper-intellectualized, dehumanizing garbage. Barth's technique is excellent, but his tale of overly educated people hopelessly isolated from the truth of their own situation by the privilege of intellectual masturbation, the decadence of nihilistic academic detachment, and the cowardice and passivity of bourgeois complacency left a deeply sour taste. Oh yeah, and throw in the instinctual belittling of women and a pinch of racism fo...more
Marius Hancu
While reading The End of the Road by John Barth, you may want to see my questions related to it as answered in the alt.usage.english (AUE) Usenet newsgroup. My thanks to the participating AUE members. The focus of my questions was the language: rare words, funny or original expressions, special or strange constructs — as I saw them, from within my own idiosyncrasies.

Ben Pederson
Nov 29, 2007 Ben Pederson rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: east coast old money Turbos
Barth is a terrific writer and has his own brand of Objectivism that is pretty intriguing. However, he is such an east coast, old money, misogynistic douchebag- a characteristic that is so painfully evident in "the end of the road" (a first person narrative) that is makes this book a hard read. While reading "the end of the road" this past weekend, I actually threw book across the room after reading a passage in which the narrator justifies he abusive nature towards the women in his life... The...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 53 54 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Come Back, Dr. Caligari
  • The Public Burning
  • Girl, 20
  • Outerbridge Reach
  • Bullet Park
  • Myra Breckinridge/Myron (20th-Century Classics)
  • Inside Mr. Enderby
  • Il mestiere di vivere: Diario 1935-1950
  • The Cannibal
  • A Smuggler's Bible
  • Erections, Ejaculations, Exhibitions, and General Tales of Ordinary Madness
  • Humboldt's Gift
  • A Piece Of My Heart
  • The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards: Stories
  • Mickelsson's Ghosts
"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

Share This Book

“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
“There's a great difficulty in making
choices if you have any imagination at all. Faced with such a multitude of desireable choices, no one choice
seems satisfactory for very long by comparison with the aggregate desirability of all the rest, though compared to any *one* of the others it would not be found inferior. All equally attractive but none finally inviting.”
More quotes…