The critic Frank Kermode begins his great work The Sense of an Ending: Studies in the Theory of Fiction by observing: “It is not expected of critics as it is of poets that they should help us to make sense of our lives; they are bound only to attempt the lesser feat of making sense of the ways we try to make sense of our lives” (3). Writing in 1965, Kermode continues, “I take comfort from the conviction that the topic is infallibly interesting, and especially at a moment in history when it may be harder than ever to accept the precedents of sense-making” (3). This statement readily reflects our own moment as well. I write in praise of Kermode’s “lesser feat of making sense of the ways we try to make sense of our lives.” Kermode was writing in a moment of escalating wars and social unrest under the...

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