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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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4,041871,259 (4)271
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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Showing 1-5 of 83 (next | show all)
Sad, melancholic tale made all the richer by Colin Firth as narrator. ( )
  Harrod | Oct 8, 2014 |
I love this book. It tells of an adulterous couple, and the end of their affair because the woman had made such a vow to God if He would preserve her lover. This reminds me of the Hound of Heaven. It is painfully beautiful, in part because the woman wants to break her vow but finds that she cannot. A sentence I found: "A wing of those grey geese that fly above our future graves had sent a draught down my back..." It is also reminiscent of A Severe Mercy. A downside is that all the religious content is Catholic. ( )
  jimmoz | Oct 2, 2014 |
It's hard to say when my relationship to this novel began. But let's begin with the list. My most recent goodreads project (I always have a project), has been tagging all the books from Bookslut's 100 Best Books of the 20th century. I don't remember how it started -- perhaps a question on Facebook from Bloomsbury Review about how often one read current books versus classics. And now here I am, butting heads agains the Bookslut 100 yet again (Why, oh why, did we ever decide to include plays?). But why did I fixate on this novel in particular? Perhaps it was Michael Schaub's enthusiastic review, it was also partly a residual effect from all those hours I spent pouring over the Eighth Day Books catalog in my early twenties. Whatever the reasons, they were strong enough to send me on a very directed mission to the bookstore in a torrential downpour.

This book did not disappoint.

It's one of those books that I have a hard time writing about intelligently. It's just too good. From the very first page I had that sensation of trust that comes from relaxing into a book that has been written by a master of the form. As the narrator, who is also a novelist, sets up the story, it is obvious both that Greene understands people and understands novels. But of course, if he didn't, he wouldn't have the reputation that he does, no would his works appear on so many lists of modern classics.

So, of course I don't aim to add to the scholarly discourse on this novel. My personal response: it was certainly interesting to read this story of religious conversion (and how religious love is entwined with romantic love) in the midst of my current estrangement from religion. Indeed, any moments of distance from this book I had were the result of trying to insert my current experience into the book to argue, which of course didn't work.

Despite that small dissonance, I was still blown away by this novel. I want to go to Eighth Day books and buy Greene's complete works. Except I'm not allowed to buy any more books until 2014. Drat. ( )
  greeniezona | Sep 20, 2014 |
What a weird book. Very dark. I didn't expect the extremely religious turn, and wasn't sure what to make of it. I think that if smythe hadn't been cured,I would have just found it eerie, but it ended up ending on a slight preachy note instead. A good book about love and obsession and grief and where they can take us. I would like to read more by him, and to find out how much of this was fiction and how much was autobiographical. This review sucks ( )
1 vote abbeyhar | Jul 23, 2014 |
What a weird book. Very dark. I didn't expect the extremely religious turn, and wasn't sure what to make of it. I think that if smythe hadn't been cured,I would have just found it eerie, but it ended up ending on a slight preachy note instead. A good book about love and obsession and grief and where they can take us. I would like to read more by him, and to find out how much of this was fiction and how much was autobiographical. This review sucks ( )
  abbeyhar | Jul 23, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 83 (next | show all)
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 (19 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Graham Greeneprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
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.
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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.
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:39:39 -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)

» see all 6 descriptions

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