The End of the Affair Paperback – 1 Jul 2004
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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 rationalisation. 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.
"A superb storyteller with a gift for provoking controversy."--"New York Times" "Greene had the sharpest eyes for trouble, the finest nose for human weaknesses, and was pitilessly honest in his observations . . . For experience of a whole century he was the man within."--Norman Sherry, "Independent" "From the Trade Paperback edition."See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The familiar Greene territory is all here - betrayal, guilt, responsibility, sin and redemption, and the uneasy, unwilling nature of faith, belief and spiritual identity
Unlike the works which are set in foreign or exotic locations, this book is set in a more pedestrian territory, blitz torn London, and whilst 'the affair' of the book is ostensibly one that happens between a man and a woman, the underneath or overriding affair or relationship is that between a man/woman and his or her understanding of God.
This is a very common theme for Greene, and of course mirrors his own relationship with his faith - never easy, never taken for granted, always a sense of the soul wrangling with an accommodation with Divinity.
This is a wonderful and often bleak book, and, with a female as well as a male central character, and the relationship between the sexes as pivotal, it may speak to anyone who has ever fallen in love and found themselves caught in a minefield of conflicting loyalties, secrecy and deception
Here, Greene recasts himself as the dolorous writer Bendrix, who, without even realising it until it is too late, has fallen into a passionate and illicit affair with Sarah, the wife of his meek (and perhaps impotent) friend and associate Henry. Greene juggles the perspectives so that each of this troika get to express their feelings (which are actually the varied conscious voices of the author), in order to further the story, as well as acting as something of an essay into infidelity, obsession, guilt and bereavement. The story could have easily fallen into the realms of melodrama, prefiguring those turgid disease-of-the-week films like Love Story (and so on), but Greene is able to break down the melancholy with elements of a detective story, with Bendrix involving himself in unravelling an affair that turns out to be nothing but an after shock.Read more ›
The End of the Affair isn't entirely typical of Greene's oeuvre; it describes a passionate affair between a writer, Maurice Bendrix and Sarah Miles, the wife of Bendrix's friend, Henry. Henry is a sombre civil servant who finally realises that he has been a cuckold for many years although the realisation only dawns on him 18 months after Bendrix's affair with Sarah is abruptly ended at her insistence.
The novel is set in Clapham during and immediately after the Second World War. Bendrix and Sarah's affair had lasted for the first five years of the war but ended after a bombing raid during which Bendrix was almost killed at his house where he and Sarah had been spending the day together. During the next two years, Bendrix agonises over Sarah's termination of their affair and reflects whether his jealous possessiveness of her caused her to abandon him.
Bendrix does eventually stumble across the reason for Sarah's course of action. It leads to a multi-faceted argument on morality, the existence of God and how much an individual's own moral code is responsible for their actions. It is a beautifully-written and thought-provoking book, as one would expect from Greene, but there is an extra dimension when one realises how personal this book was to Greene.
If one delves into his life, one recognises that the Bendrix character is a thinly-disguised version of the writer himself.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Many years since I have read a Graham Greene book, and as expected the style of writing is wonderful. Not a word wasted. Read morePublished 18 days ago by ESES
A classic example of Greene at his best. Designed to make you think about the relationship between two people trapped in a world of their own making. Read morePublished 1 month ago by RWK
Book seller sent a good copy on time for a tiny price. For a review of the novel you need to go to a review site. I enjoyed it but it seems to come from another world. Read morePublished 5 months ago by JQR