Published online by Cambridge University Press: 01 April 2022
This chapter surveys the now well-known notion of the end of history, popularized in particular by Francis Fukuyama, from a literary point of view. It does this, in the main, by looking at the work of the philologist Erich Auerbach. It begins with an overview of the idea of the end of history from the more general, historical viewpoint of eschatology, outlining some of the ways this notion seems to be becoming redundant in the contemporay era. It then moves on to trace the history of eschatological thinking via Auerbach’s corpus, making links between this author’s different works, and explicating how they relate to the main topic. If all escahtological narratives have a global dimension, Auerbach’s work also highlights the way in which the end of history is tied up with more specific notions of globalization, both in the imperialist era and in our own era of thoroughgoing globalization. The chapter thus sets about trying to think through the link between globalization, the end of history and literature, and it ends by drawing some conclusions on how these three things relate to one another in the contemporary era.