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The End of the Affair by Graham Greene

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

by Graham Greene

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3,978831,285 (4)252
Title:The End of the Affair
Authors:Graham Greene
Info:Vintage (2003), Paperback, 192 pages
Collections:FUE - KEL
Tags:England, tbr

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The End of the Affair by Graham Greene (1951)

1001 (36) 1001 books (31) 20th century (86) 20th century literature (20) adultery (54) British (88) British fiction (30) British literature (64) Catholic (20) Catholicism (58) classic (56) classics (52) England (59) English (34) English literature (67) fiction (629) Graham Greene (32) Greene (24) literary fiction (20) literature (99) London (57) love (55) novel (150) read (58) religion (56) romance (39) to-read (70) unread (33) war (30) WWII (101)

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Showing 1-5 of 78 (next | show all)
Love and lust. Love and loss. Love and jealousy. Great short book. ( )
  MaryEvelynLS | Jun 1, 2014 |
Not one of Greene's best, by a long chalk, as the Brits say, but probably his most self-lacerating book. It's an open wound, full not just of his insecurities about sexual love, but about his own abilities as a writer. And while his best male protagonists, in The Comedians, The Power and the Glory, or The Quiet American, ultimately convey his message about the power of sacrifice in their connection to a social or political ideal, his female lead here does it, in the dusty old Victorian style, all for love, and then dies tragically, as of course, as an adulteress, she must. Not good enough. There is always some insight to be gained in a Greene novel, but there's less here than in many others, it's a disappointment. ( )
  CSRodgers | May 3, 2014 |
Apparently people take this book to heart and project onto it their own personal turmoils. Nothing wrong with that. Here's my review from the perspective of a happily married man: this is some claustrophobic hot mess, which is a lot more to do with God than it is to do with a lover.
If you think the Heart of the Matter is incomprehensible to a non-believer - man paralyzed by a conflict between his love for a woman and his faith - this tops it by about three hundred degrees of incomprehensibility. I can't think of any author who so consistently tests my patience without making me lose it altogether, although I actually find it easier to suspend disbelief over Greene's religious books than some of his non-religious books (England Made Me, I'm looking at you). I can't put my finger on why, and it might even make the books more interesting, but there's a point in all his books when I think oh, c'mon now. Isn't it all just a little too pat?
Anyway, I suggest you read this while in the throes of a passionately failing relationship, with your lady/gentleman friend or the Big Guy Above. Otherwise, I think I'd rather re-read The Quiet American. ( )
  stillatim | Dec 29, 2013 |
I can see why some people love this book. But, as a person who reads for entertainment first and growth/reflection/self-improvement second, it was an exercise in endurance. It falls firmly in the literary category of brussels sprouts - good for you but not terribly palatable. What started as somewhat amusing self-awareness, by the end had reached a crescendo of self-pitying, hateful, whining that made me want to beat my head against the wall. Had I been reading a bound copy rather than listening on audio, I almost certainly would have either abandoned it or started skimming the text to get to the end faster. But on audio, Colin Firth's delicious, delicious voice buttered it enough to let me clean my plate. ( )
  PortM | Nov 30, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 78 (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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Man has places in his heart which do not yet exist, and into them enters suffering in order that they may have existence.
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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)

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