Benedict Wells starts his novel ‘The End of Loneliness,’ with a striking phrase that reads, “I have known death for a long time, but now death knows me.”
The renowned German novel — recently translated into Arabic by Ahmed Salah and released in early 2023 — delves into the theme of loss.
The protagonist, Jules, shares similarities with Wells. Both grew up in a boarding school and harboured a passion for writing. Despite this, Wells denies that the work is semi-autobiographical, emphasising that “despite the similarities, we are fundamentally different people. I am not an orphan like Jules, and we are quite different.”
“While I drew from personal experiences of loss and loneliness in writing the novel, the story itself did not happen to me. Rather, it served as a means to express deep emotions that were difficult to articulate in real life.”
Throughout the novel, there is a sense a lingering guilt that haunts Jules in regard to his late father. Regret weighs heavily on him as he reflects on their last encounter before his death. Yet, he finds himself devoid of any remorse for his role in helping Sasha take his own life.
Avoiding ‘perfect’ characters
Wells acknowledges that such personal contradictions and choices are “inherent to any character in any novel, even though I do not personally like that. I intentionally avoid creating perfect characters, because human beings are complex and multifaceted creatures with both admirable qualities and flaws,” he says.