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Apocalyptic Literature

The Sense of an Ending

term fiction ‘the ‘to

a term derived from a Greek verb meaning ‘to uncover’ or ‘to disclose’ a revelation, hence the title of the last book of the New Testament. The term refers to the end of the present world and the coming of the messiah's kingdom. There is a long tradition of Jewish and Christian apocalyptic writing, but the modern use of the term tends to focus on esoteric or secular endings, particularly those which come about by violence. Thus, Yeats's poem ‘The Second Coming’ alludes to the turbulence associated with the end of a 2,000-year cycle, and much of the fiction of J. G. Ballard can be described as apocalyptic, since it evokes a world threatened or already overwhelmed by nuclear devastation. There has been a strongly apocalyptic vein in science fiction since the 1960s. F. Kermode's The Sense of an Ending (1967), a chapter of which is called ‘The Modern Apocalypse’, discusses the implications for fictional narrative of linear views of history and of the images a culture finds for its always approaching end.

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