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The End of the Affair (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) Paperback – Deckle Edge, September 28, 2004
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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Singularly moving and beautiful...the relationship of lover to husband with its crazy mutation of pity, hate, comradeship, jealousy, and contempt is superbly described...the heroine is consistently lovable." —Evelyn Waugh
"An absorbing piece of work, passionately felt and strikingly written." —The Atlantic Monthly
"Brighton Rock, The Heart of the Matter, and The End of the Affair...all have claims to greatness; they are as intense and penetrating and disturbing as an inquisitor's gaze." —John Updike
"Graham Greene was in class by himself.... He will be read and remembered as the ultimate twentieth-century chronicler of consciousness and anxiety." —William Golding
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Top Customer Reviews
Graham Greene belongs to what I would call the school of nomads and heartbroken cynics. He travelled the world, he viewed it with an intelligent yet humane mixture of compassion and disgust, and he struggled to the end to give man some hope while at the same time viewing man's condition with utterly unsentimental realism. It was a difficult balancing act. Greene was too intelligent to accept the cardboard God of the sentimental and the superstitious, but he realized too that without a belief in some transcendent order in the universe man was liable to destroy himself within the dark tentacles of war, greed, obsession, betrayal, and despair. At the same time, he was acutely aware that this belief in a higher power could itself lead down the very same hole. It is precisely Sarah's belated discovery of faith that ruins any chance of her attaining happiness.
Greene's genius in this novel is to set this grand metaphysical drama of man and faith as a background against the foreground of a passionate, mature romance. These two tragic themes, the impossibility of love and the impossibility of faith, combined with man's absolute inability to live without either, resonate with one another to create an almost unbearably moving work of art. I can't remember the last time I wept reading a novel, but there were moments reading The End of the Affair when a turn of phrase made my throat clench and the tears well in my eyes.
This is a work of power, feeling, intelligence, and nuance. It deserves to be considered one of the great novels of the century. Do not hesitate to read it.
The narrator is a near-successful writer living in London just before the start of WWII. Looking for inspiration for a novel about civil workers, he takes the wife of a fairly important civil worker out for dinner. She is interested in him, and this in turn sparks desire from him. They begin an affair that lasts throughout the war until the day the first V1 rockets fall. She breaks it off suddenly, without any reason known to the narrator. The husband never finds out, wrapped up in his work he does not even realize his marriage is more a friendship than anything.
Two years later, the narrator has had no contact at all with his lover. Until he runs into her troubled husband. They are only acquaintances, but the husband confides in the narrator his suspicions of another man. He thinks his wife is having an affair. The narrator hates his former lover, but jealousy now rears its head again. How could she take yet another lover after him? After their undying promises? He engages a private investigator to follow her.
All of this sounds fairly sordid. And it is. But love, real love, does flow through this novel. How difficult love is. How close love is to hate. How hatred can even be a twisted form of love. The two intense emotions are the flip sides of the same coin.
There are some good observations on the nature of writing itself. The narrator observes that most things are already written by the unconscious before the first word is put on paper. I find that to be true. Walking, sitting around, eating, reading, taking a shower, are all essential writing periods. The narrator has the habit of writing five hundred words a day, then stopping.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
As I was listening to this book I kept thinking, if they give out Oscars for audio book performances, then Colin Firth should get one. Read morePublished 1 day ago by A. Murphy
A boring book about people who didn't like each other very much but had an affair anyway,
Another story of English men and women who were unable to confront their desires... Read more
The ending of this book is one of the best endings I think I have ever read in a modern novel. I wonder if Greene was aware that this book was such a masterpiece of his. Read morePublished 23 days ago by Emily
This is the favorite book of a friend of mine, but it didn't quite strike me that way.
I got too annoyed with the protagonist: as though admitting that he was being... Read more
Maurice Bendix has got it pretty good. He managed to survive the bombings of London during World War II, makes a nice living as a novelist writing at the stately pace of five... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Michael Battaglia
Reviewing a book considered a classic is always an interesting task. It made it into the literary canon, so who am I to judge it? Read morePublished 3 months ago by Christina
I love Graham Greene, but this isn't my favorite of his. But it's still a great read. Definitely worth it. Lovely.Published 3 months ago by Sarah George