Within the framework of this study, I focus on selected works of Thomas Bernhard, Martin Walser, Max Frisch and Philip Roth, because they portray most systematically those aspects of the crisis of meaning, old age and death I attempt to analyze. I do not wish to cover solely the midlife crisis, but the whole phase in life of bodily and intellectual decline until death, and the mechanisms of the protagonists to cope with them. The redefinition of the self, the attempted escape from and the reality and the inevitability of death, the farewell to the self-image of the young, dynamic agent in life all these are motives which start in the midlife crisis and fully unfold their might during the end-life crisis. This study is only meant to be a starting point in order to develop categories for the new literary discourse about ageing and, subsequently, to analyze it in a comparative manner. The protagonists of Bernhard, Walser, Frisch and Roth face a torturous struggle for a meaningful existence, the pains of old age and the inevitable approach of death. With all their differences concerning the strategies to deal with this situation and their final outcomes, the novels treated herein have one point in common: They philosophically deal with the preservation of one's identity, with reorientation in life and with the finding of a new meaning therein. Thus they break the taboo of a society obsessed with youthfulness and bring back old age, illness, and death, in their contemporary forms into the mainstream of literature. They all share the brutal failure of the suppression of the inevitable, which henceforth becomes a new starting point: the beginning of the venture to find a new meaning in life. The process of writing as a means within this search assumes a special role. It still offers the possibility of self-fulfilment despite physical decline and thus gives the protagonists a meaning for the days still left to them.