“In a vivid insight, a flash of black lightning, he saw that all life was parallel: that evolution was not vertical, ascending to a perfection, but horizontal. Time was a great fallacy; existence was without history, was always now, was always this being caught in the same fiendish machine. All those painted screens erected by man to shut out reality - history, religion, duty, social position, all were illusions, mere opium fantasies."
And exactly like that, like a flash of black lightning, certain passages in the book leap out by their sheer beauty and philosophical insight. John Fowles ends the novel with the following sentence. A last sentence that is supposed to bring closure. But in the hands of a great novelist this closure is all encompassing and we are left with the sense that the novel ends with a grand opening. Here it is:
“ He walks towards an imminent, self-given death? I think not; for he has at last found an atom of faith in himself, a true uniqueness, on which to build; has already begun, though he would still bitterly deny it, though there are tears in his eyes to support his denial, to realize that life, ... is not a symbol, is not one riddle and one failure to guess it, is not to inhabit one face alone or to be given up after one losing throw of the dice; but is to be, however inadequately, emptily, hopelessly into the city’s iron heart, endured. And out again, upon the unplumb’d, salt, estranging sea."