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The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene

The Heart of the Matter (original 1948; edition 1985)

by Graham Greene

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3,206None1,729 (3.91)112
Title:The Heart of the Matter
Authors:Graham Greene
Info:Penguin Books (1982), Paperback, 272 pages
Collections:Your library, 25-book List C, Read 2012
Tags:Fiction - Classic

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The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene (1948)

1001 (27) 1001 books (25) 20th century (81) adultery (28) Africa (113) British (70) British fiction (17) British literature (53) Catholic (14) Catholicism (51) classic (33) classics (28) colonialism (36) England (15) English (38) English literature (58) fiction (571) Graham Greene (19) Greene (20) literature (96) novel (128) own (15) read (39) religion (31) Roman (21) suicide (15) to-read (51) unread (26) West Africa (14) WWII (19)
  1. 10
    Morte D'Urban by J. F. Powers (christiguc)
  2. 00
    The Mission Song by John le Carré (John_Vaughan)
    John_Vaughan: The two books reflect the supposedly 'catholic' viewpoint so often attributed to Greene. The Mission Song is from a catholic African's view.
  3. 01
    On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan (akfarrar)
    akfarrar: Another serious book with marriage at the heart of it and the tug of war between being an individual and uniting with an 'other'. Both deal with a generation of people on the edge of change and with matters both earthly and spiritual.

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» See also 112 mentions

English (34)  Dutch (2)  All languages (36)
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
As good as The Power and the Glory? Nope. As good as The Quiet American? Yeah. I read some other peoples' reviews, and along with the usual 'oh, i didn't like any of the characters' (really? how many people do you like outside of books?) and 'it's just depressing' (yes. If only all books could fill my life with joy and ice-cream sprinkles, I would be so happy), I realized that any fiction written before, say, 1970, can't win. If it's set in the colonies, then it's being imperialistic and anti-feminist. If it's not sent in the colonies, it's ignoring the problems of the third/developing/dependent world. If the protagonist is white, it's racist. If he's a male, it's sexist. And so on. Even if the book in question - like this one, or Heart of Darkness and so on - is explicitly and rigidly anti-colonialist, it's never good enough. Graham Greene, so far as I can tell, is absolutely incapable of writing a book about a woman. So? It's a limitation, but that doesn't mean he's furthering the interests of the patriarchy. Aaaaaaaarghhhhhhhh...

Anyway, you should read this if you have the slightest tinge of idealist in you. If you hate religion, just pretend that Scobie's real problem is that his adultery doesn't mesh with his Marxism, or his capitalism, or whatever ideology you want to throw in there. Point being, unlike a lot of books, you get a picture of someone who chooses his ideology over messy real life, and it's both depressing as hell and crazy inspiring. And for god's sake: fiction is no sociology, nor political theory. ( )
  stillatim | Dec 29, 2013 |
Wondered often if it was truly a moral study or a study of insanity. I tend to favor the second theory. ( )
  marti.booker | Dec 2, 2013 |
On Jan 28, 1950, I said: "Read The Heart of the Matter today. 'Twas quite a story, mood-inspring, tending to leave a guy with a drained-out weary feeling. But: reflecting on it after finishing it, it was not the type of book which can create in me the kind of feeling it strove to create. I think it underdrawn; it doesn't exhaust its potentially powerful situations and mental states. Where I require, to create a really intense and all-pervading feeling, a type of writing with the sweeping, driving, bludgeoning force of a vibrantly, erratic sledgehammer, Graham Greene uses the incisive, deliberate probings of some sterilized surgical instrument with the net result that the relation of Scobie's mental and spiritual conflict left me with a dry tension with elements of artificialty to it. It is a story of a man torn between right and love versus wrong and love; he loved so thoroughly that even when he saw the evil saturating what resulted from his love, he could not withdraw. I've heard talk of special, not readily apparent meaning in the story and I sought to discover that, but it eluded me, I guess." ( )
  Schmerguls | Oct 20, 2013 |
The Heart of the Matter is quintessential Graham Greene: life in a colonial backwater bureaucracy, a burnt-out middle aged guy struggling with Catholic guilt, infidelity and distrust. The oppressive African heat and constrained lives of the protagonists is marvelously developed. As the story progresses, the unrelenting malaise leaves them few options that are not typically Greenian. Not his best but among his better works. ( )
  jcbrunner | Aug 31, 2013 |
The conflicts of the inner self, the frightening narrow-mindedness of the colonial society, the overwhelming African reality. Interspersed with reflections on religion and racism. My first book by Greene, but an author that I'm certainly keen on getting to know better. ( )
  Miguelnunonave | Aug 9, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
A policeman's lot is not a happy one. The white (and dark) man's burden must always be heavy. And man's debt to man will be forever in arrears -- from West Africa to the West End, from Brooklyn to Bucharest. Generations of novelists have wrestled with these melancholy truisms. It is a pleasure to report that Graham Greene, in "The Heart of the Matter," has wrestled brilliantly with all three -- and scored three clean falls. Mr. Greene (as a well-earned public knows) is a profound moralist with a technique to match his purpose. From first page to last, this record of one man's breakdown on a heat-drugged fever-coast makes its point as a crystal-clear allegory -- and as an engrossing novel.
One thing I admire with the Heart of the Matter is the introduction of several other characters that in a way or another adds up to the genuine plot. They all seem to have a story to tell and each story affects and adds up to the conflict that has been surfacing within the inner self of Scobie.


» Add other authors (27 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Graham Greeneprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wood, JamesIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Le pécheur est au cœur même de chrétienté. . . .Nul n'est aussi compétent que le pécheur en matière de chrétienté. Nul, si ce n'est le saint." -- Péguy
To V.G., L.C.G., and F.C.G.
First words
Wilson sat on the balcony of the Bedford Hotel with his bald pink knees thrust against the ironwork.
Wilson sat on the balcony of the Bedford Hotel with his bald pink knees thrust against the ironwork.
He Had no sense of responsibility towards the beautiful and the graceful and the intelligent. They could find their own way. It was the face for which nobody would go out of his way, the face that would never catch the covert look, the face which would soon be used to rebuffs and indifference that demanded his allegiance. The word 'pity' is used as loosely as the word 'love' : the terrible promiscuous passion which so few experience.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0142437999, Paperback)

Graham Greene's masterpiece The Heart of the Matter tells the story of a good man enmeshed in love, intrigue, and evil in a West African coastal town. Scobie is bound by strict integrity to his role as assistant police commissioner and by severe responsibility to his wife, Louise, for whom he cares with a fatal pity.

When Scobie falls in love with the young widow Helen, he finds vital passion again yielding to pity, integrity giving way to deceit and dishonor—a vortex leading directly to murder. As Scobie's world crumbles, his personal crisis makes for a novel that is suspenseful, fascinating, and, finally, tragic.

Originally published in 1948, The Heart of the Matter is the unforgettable portrait of one man, flawed yet heroic, destroyed and redeemed by a terrible conflict of passion and faith.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:41:20 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Scobie, a police officer in a West African colony, is a good and honest man. But when he falls in love, he is forced into a betrayal of everything that he has ever believed in, and his struggle to maintain the happiness of two women destroys him.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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