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The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
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The End of the Affair (original 1951; edition 2003)

by Graham Greene

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4,5721091,049 (3.98)334
Member:dylanwolf
Title:The End of the Affair
Authors:Graham Greene
Info:Vintage (2003), Paperback, 192 pages
Collections:FUE - KEL
Rating:
Tags:England, tbr

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The End of the Affair by Graham Greene (1951)

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I got this free on Audible, narrated by Colin Firth. This is the 4th of Greene's Catholic novels, published in 1951. Nothing I could say would add anything that hasn't already been said much more eloquently than I. A powerful novel, and one I will likely listen to again. ( )
  janb37 | Feb 13, 2017 |
Colin Firth narrating this book was a treat! Highly recommend the audiobook. Greene is a very clever and thoughtful author. The topic is not particularly to my liking, so I gave it 4 out of 5. ( )
  carol.iam | Feb 1, 2017 |
The End of the Affair was just my second book by Graham Greene, and it is so very different from Our Man in Havana, which surprised me. I was not expecting it to be so sad and melancholy, but it is also beautifully told. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Mr. Darcy Colin Firth, who elevates the novel, IMO. It is a perfect blend of story and narrator, which is pure magic when it happens. I read that this story is based on Greene's real life events and is considered one of his "Catholic novels". Although faith definitely plays a part here, I didn't think that the novel was dominated by Catholicism. I liked the internal monologue that we are treated to and the stream of consciousness that explores just how wrongly the main character has interpreted life events. Bittersweet and thoughtful and intelligent, it is also slightly tedious at times, but that might have been because I was expecting more humor, and really, isn't picking apart a relationship and analyzing it from different angles a tedious thing? How could it not be? Anyone who has had a relationship end before they were ready, who didn't understand an abrupt dismissal when they were still fully engaged would keep picking away at events trying to figure out where things went so horrible wrong. The slow unfolding of the story is part of what makes the ending seem so flawless. Definitely one I will listen to again, and I think I will get more out of it the second time around. ( )
  Crazymamie | Jan 28, 2017 |
As another GR reviewer noted, this book is more than a read, it has a physical quality. It is absorbing and I, too, found myself curled up while reading.

There are a lot of levels to the story of Maurice, Sarah and Henry. To say it is - as the title presumes - a romance, will not do. But neither is it - in my estimation - a book about Brendix' competition with God as some suggest.

Obsession, delusion, denial, jealousy fueled by self-hatred and a hefty dose of egotism make Brendix not a likable character. His selfish obsession with Sarah, or rather, with the idea of her and his wanting to possess her, is frustrating. On a few occasions, you want may want to shout out "You idiot, can't you see what you are doing?" Nevertheless, it is a pleasure to bear with him, to explore the mysticism that is introduced by the characters of Mr. Smythe and Mrs. Bernard.

It may well be that the second half of the book and the investigation into Sarah's secret is an explicit description of Sarah's conversion to Catholicism and - finally - Brendix' acknowledgement of God, even though - or maybe because - he constantly denies God's existence just as he denies his own guilty part in Sarah's demise.

In my estimation, though, the concept of Catholicism Greene used could easily be substituted with any other faith, superstition, or indeed hocus pocus. Anything that could be used as a target of Brendix' grief; anything that could be used as a locus of Brendix' displaced guilt, self-hatred and inadequacy. All through his tale, Brendix antagonizes people in the search of a rival - first Henry, then Sarah's unknown other lover, before he finally settles his need to compete on a God that he has always denied.


It is a grotesque tale. Beautifully written and very atmospheric. It does leave me wondering, though, if there ever really was an end to the affair.
( )
  BrokenTune | Aug 21, 2016 |
The conflicts between religious teaching and matters of the heart. ( )
1 vote ghefferon | Jul 9, 2016 |
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In "The End of the Affair" the splendidly stupid private detective, Alfred Parkis, and his apprentice son, and the maudlin grifter who is the heroine's mother, equal the best of the seedy supernumeraries of his other novels. It is savage and sad, vulgar and ideal, coarse and refined, and a rather accurate image of an era of cunning and glory, of cowardice and heroism, of belief and unbelief.
 
Great romantic novels are about pain and hate, and among the greatest is Graham Greene's searing The End of the Affair. It is one of the most forensic and honest analyses of love you will ever read.
 

» Add other authors (20 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Graham Greeneprimary authorall editionscalculated
Firth, ColinNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Man has places in his heart which do not yet exist, and into them enters suffering in order that they may have existence.
Leon Bloy
Dedication
To C.
First words
A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead.
Quotations
Henry had his tray, sitting up against two pillows in his green woollen dressing-gown, and in the room below, on the hardwood floor, with a single cushion for support, and the door ajar, we made love.
I suppose Germany by this time had invaded the Low Countries: the spring like a corpse was sweet with the smell of doom,...
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0142437980, Paperback)

Set in London during and just after World War II, Graham Greene's The End of the Affair is a pathos-laden examination of a three-way collision between love of self, love of another, and love of God. The affair in question involves Maurice Bendrix, a solipsistic novelist, and a dutifully married woman, Sarah Miles. The lovers meet at a party thrown by Sarah's dreary civil-servant husband, and proceed to liberate each other from boredom and routine unhappiness. Reflecting on the ebullient beginnings of their romance, Bendrix recalls: "There was never any question in those days of who wanted whom--we were together in desire." Indeed, the affair goes on unchecked for several years until, during an afternoon tryst, Bendrix goes downstairs to look for intruders in his basement and a bomb falls on the building. Sarah rushes down to find him lying under a fallen door, and immediately makes a deal with God, whom she has never particularly cared for. "I love him and I'll do anything if you'll make him alive.... I'll give him up forever, only let him be alive with a chance.... People can love each other without seeing each other, can't they, they love You all their lives without seeing You."

Bendrix, as evidenced by his ability to tell the story, is not dead, merely unconscious, and so Sarah must keep her promise. She breaks off the relationship without giving a reason, leaving Bendrix mystified and angry. The only explanation he can think of is that she's left him for another man. It isn't until years later, when he hires a private detective to ascertain the truth, that he learns of her impassioned vow. Sarah herself comes to understand her move through a strange rationalization. Writing to God in her journal, she says:

You willed our separation, but he [Bendrix] willed it too. He worked for it with his anger and his jealousy, and he worked for it with his love. For he gave me so much love, and I gave him so much love that soon there wasn't anything left, when we'd finished, but You.
It's as though the pull toward faith were inevitable, if incomprehensible--perhaps as punishment for her sin of adultery. In her final years, Sarah's faith only deepens, even as she remains haunted by the bombing and the power of her own attraction to God. Set against the backdrop of a war-ravaged city, The End of the Affair is equally haunting as it lays forth the question of what constitutes love in troubling, unequivocal terms. --Melanie Rehak

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:51 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Maurice Bendrix is a sardonic and cynical writer who reflects on his affair with Sarah, a married woman, during the bombing of London in 1940.

(summary from another edition)

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