A Story Has No Beginning Or End Arbitrarily One Chooses A Moment Of Experience From Which To Look AheadThis Is A Record Of Hate Far Than Of Love, Writes Maurice Bendrix In The Opening Passages Of The End Of The Affair, And It Is A Strange Hate Indeed That Compels Him To Set Down The Retrospective Account Of His Adulterous Affair With Sarah MilesNow, A Year After Sarah S Death, Bendrix Seeks To Exorcise The Persistence Of His Passion By Retracing Its Course From Obsessive Love To Love Hate At First, He Believes He Hates Sarah And Her Husband, Henry Yet As He Delves Deeper Into His Emotional Outlook, Bendrix S Hatred Shifts To The God He Feels Has Broken His Life, But Whose Existence At Last Comes To Recognize The sense of unhappiness is so much easier to convey than that of happiness In misery we seem aware of our own existence, even though it may be in the form of a monstrous egotism this pain of mine is individual, this nerve that winces belongs to me and to no other But happiness annihilates us we lose our identity The words of human love have been used by the saints to describe their vision of God, and so, I suppose, we might use the terms of prayer, meditation, contemplation to explain the intensity of the love we feel for a woman We too surrender memory, intellect, intelligence, and we too experience the deprivation, the noche oscura, and sometimes as a reward a kind of peace The act of love itself has been described as the little death, and lovers sometimes experience too the little peace I am terribly late with this review but it wasn t my fault One of my colleagues borrowed my book before I got the chance to transcribe the quotes I chose and I had to wait until he brought it back The End of the Affair is part of Greene s Catholic series I bought it before I found out about this tiny but significant detail and I started this with dread I was expecting some kind of religious preach but it wasn t the case, fortunately The author struggled all his life with the dilemma of God s existence and he projected his doubts on the narrators of some of his novels As such, the novel, among other things, becomes a meditation on the probability of God s existence.The first part of the novel is profane and describes, as you can guess, the end of an affair between a famous writer, Maurice Bendrix and the wife of a civil servant, Sarah In the 2nd part we find out about the reasons behind the sudden ending and the story becomes of a discussion about GodMan made God in his own image, so it s natural he should love him You know those distorting mirrors at fairs Man s made a beautifying mirror too in which he sees himself lovely and powerful and just and wise It s his idea of himself He recognizes himself easier than in the distorting mirror which only makes him laugh, but how he loves himself in the other The story is not linear, it jumps back and forth in time We learn how the love story begun, how it was consumed by passion and jealously and how it abruptly ended with a betrayal from Sarah We get to also find out her point of view, beautifully introduced by her journal.I would have been annoyed and taken aback by the religious talk weren t for Greene s amazing talent for words Just as in The Quiet American, the author s prose is superb, I could probably quote here half of the novel and I would still miss some beautiful linesI have never understood why people who can swallow the enormous improbability of a personal God boogle at a personal Devil I have known so intimately the way that demon works in my imagination No statement that Sarah ever made was proof against his cunning doubts, though he would usually wait till she gone to utter them He would prompt our quarrels long before they occurred he was not Sarah s enemy so much as the enemy of love, and isn t that what the devil is supposed to be I can imagine that if there existed a God who loved, the devil would be driven to destroy even the weakest, the most faulty imitation of that love Wouldn t he be afraid that the habit of love might grow, and wouldn t he try to trap us all into being traitors, into helping him extinguish love If there is a God who uses us and makes his saints out of such material as we are, the devil too may have his ambitions he may dream of training even such a person as myself, into being his saints, ready with borrowed fanaticism to destroy love wherever we find it The novel was intriguing and beautifully written, as I said, but I wouldn t recommend it as the first contact with Graham Greene s work due to its subject The Quiet American is a much better choice, in my humble opinion. this is the story of a jealous man and a jealous God fighting for the soul of a woman who desperately wants to believe in one of them.oh, and it s a complicated thing, belief.the relationshippy parts of this book are divine a woman in an unfulfilling marriage takes a lover, maurice, and puts all of herself into the relationship maurice, for his part, should perhaps have been called marcel, because his involvement in the relationship is pure proust overanalyzing, obsessing, becoming jealous of every past and possible future lover sarah has had or could have, anticipating the end of the relationship so frequently that he is rarely committed to the moment, loving the idea of sarah without understanding her as a woman until everything is over and unobtainable it is great stuff a man mourning a relationship he was never even fully involved in the fooli d rather be dead or see you dead, i said, than with another man i m not eccentric that s ordinary human love ask anybody they d all say the same if they loved at all i jibed at her anyone who loves is jealous which is almost intense enough to cover up the fact that he loves her without knowing what she is all about it is an artist s rendition of love all movement, no depth.and poor cuckold henry, loving sarah in his own way, but never giving her the passionate relationship her spirit requires maurice marcel sums it up and yet he was happier in his unused room simply because it was his his possession i thought with bitterness and envy if one possesses a thing securely, one need never use it.aagghh his is a quiet, plodding, consistent love a loyalty that loves without getting close enough to make a ripple and by ripple, i mean orgasm, naturally enter God.who has no business being in a love triangle which eventually becomes a love octagon, at least but after promises made in the heat of the moment, and some magical thinking and coincidence He is there and there is no shaking Him, and it gets very complicated i am spoiler tagging this, but it is a quote from the introduction that kills me, and may or may not be a true spoiler view spoiler for all the trouble of their relations, the pain of surrendering maurice proves very nearly unendurable it is as though sarah has punched a hole through her heart, a hole that is both defined by and then filled by god without the pain she would not need to believe at all, but faith is in greene a form of suffering and sarah has caught it, a disease that somehow gives her the strength she needs not to break her vow hide spoiler Of the less than ten novels in the universe which can conceivably be called PERFECT that is, without a single flaw, with so much mastery over the daunting literary terrain that it leaves the reader panting, gives him goose bumps, makes him believe in the sphere of art all over again two of them undoubtedly are written by Graham Greene I have lionized The Quiet American before Now it s The End of the Affair which left me wondering why isn t Graham Greene widely read The yarn told is truly a cause for heartache the themes of adultery death, and above all, religion, are uber heavy but with great craft Greene manages to make them accessible to his flabbergasted readership of which, as I ve said, there must be The lovers fall in love sharing a plate of onions no poetry escapes this guy, unarguably the BEST WRITER OF THE 20TH CENTURY Others Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro, Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates, The Human Stain by Philip Roth the list does go on. I am not only committing to the five stars for this review, I wish I could give it To say it deserves it would be rather an understatement Reading the book was actually one of those physically memorable experiences curling up in a ball with it, crouched over it reading behind piles of work I should have been doing, completely zoning out the world around me until it was forced to my attention, not to mention the actual physical pain I felt at the beauty of some of the language employed Greene s writing here is just absolutely astounding I cannot emphasize that enough It is an obsessive love he writes of, obstensibly That s what the back cover and the short summaries would have us believe that this book is about But that is not all this book is about Not even close.Greene writes about hatred, the nature of belief, the nature of God and what it means to believe in Him, the physical and emotional experience of love, the effects that that love can have on our lives and blends it all together so that we see that none of those things can be seperated This is one of three novels in his Catholic trilogy, and the love of and need for God is as intrinsic as the love and need for our soulmates in life Everything in the end is about God, but through love and hate and the deepest emotions that can be written out from our core Greene manages to convey emotions and ways of thinking about life and love that we have all felt, but in such a beautifully done way perhaps we could never quite express what it meant ourselves There were phrases in the book that brought back vivid, intense flashes out of my own experiences, little poignant moments that exactly fit just some random little sentence inserted into a two page rant That happened over and over again If I did such things to my books, I would have paragraphs highlighted on every page Many times during the book a sort of stream of consciousness is evident in the narration where it is unclear whether the narrator is expressing his thoughts or those of his lover s, whether his thoughts are now or in the past, or whether he can really tell himself which it is I found that device to be very powerful, showing the effect that even the memory of great events can have upon us, and how visceral the feelings can be even all these years later Greene is also not afraid to lay his characters bare, perhaps get them on our bad side, to show them in all their ugliness and pettiness which makes them all the real It is how we all act in love and in times of desperation and need This was so much better done than Heart of the Matter, where I think Greene really tries to keep the reader at of a distance That was a mistake This is a book that gets one thinking about God and love and what it s all about One has to get at the reader s core before such basic beliefs can really be brought out to be questioned and beaten And the author won t do that without first going there himself through his characters and his deeply felt, naked writing.Anyway possibly the best treatise on love and God I ve ever read, and certainly the one that will stay with me the longest Those were just some random thoughts that came to me upon finishing it, but I hope it is enough that someone else will read it It s an experience that everyone should have. Note every possible plot spoiler included here but I don t care Let s go.So let me get this right This miserable sourpuss atheistic type author guy Maurice meets this hot slutty their word woman Sarah who is married to England s most boring civil servant Henry They have a full on steamy affair right under Henry s nose for four years and are very happy, except Maurice gives the impression that even when he s happy he s miserable Like Morrissey Similar name Anyway, it s World War 2 and there s a big air raid and the guy goes downstairs to check on the cat or something and WHAM a great big German missile hits the building and a door falls on him Sarah runs downstairs and sees his arm sticking out and thinks he s dead She runs back upstairs and prays to God So far so reasonable But actually she doesn t believe in God Well, people do strange stuff when they think their true love is dead under a door She says if God makes Maurice not be dead then she will a believe in God and b give up Maurice So when he wanders into her room all covered with dust and saying wow I just got hit by a door, I thought I was a goner but I just got a headache, how about that, she immediately thinks that God did it She instantly takes it for a Miracle and not just a near miss And that s the last she sees of him, she cuts him off without a word of explanation, thus plunging them both into suicidal despair What she says is Love doesn t end just because we don t see each other Well, maybe, but shagging surely does Sample quote from Maurice after Sarah dumps him I thought hating Sarah is only loving Sarah and hating myself is only loving myself.Yes, it s psychobabble 20 years before the term was invented I suppose Sarah thinks that if she breaks the promise to God not to see him, then God will smite him completely dead with another door or handy piece of furniture But this is not explained But hey, this was a promise made under duress And anyway, if she just takes a moment to think, she will surely realise that during any air raid on London in the War, and any air raid anywhere at any time, many people will have prayed to the God they actually believed in that their loved ones would not die and many people will then have found their loved ones had died in horror and agony nevertheless And some like her would find their loved ones had survived So where s the logic in that Well, there isn t any It s just human nature Unless we can conjecture that God sits there saying oh, that s a good prayer, very well expressed, very sincere, I ll answer that one But those prayers are rubbish, clich ridden, boring, really very bad, so those loved ones will have to fry So I figured that this dame was not at the front of the queue when they were handing out brains Actually, all these reasonable points are made by a Rational Atheist character who she goes to see to try to get him to argue her out of this insane piece of magical thinking Oh the vow, the vow to the non existent God But it doesn t work his fanaticism fixed the superstition deeper By the way, the Rational Atheist has a big Facial Disfigurement, which has Blighted his Life I think this is some kind of symbol.Then we get Sarah s diary and the full horror of her mind is laid bare She loves Maurice, no, actually, she hates him No, she loves him But she hates God No, she doesn t believe in him Oh wait, she loves God, who she doesn t believe in And she thinks she s a Catholic no other varieties are available in Graham Greene s universe Methodism or Zoroastrianism don t get a look in She thinks she might be a Catholic but she doesn t believe Hold the phone, yes she does God No God Oh the pain The pain Love, hate, hate, love, belief, maybe wah wah wah Wah Wah.It becomes really tiresome Sample diary quote How good You God are You might have killed us with happiness, but You let us be with You in pain Dear God, you know I want to want Your pain So eventually this majorly troubled woman ends up saying I ve caught belief like a disease and then dies I see that many people think The End of the Affair is a very beautiful meditation on love and faith but it seemed to me as if it was presenting religious faith as if it s something lying in wait to trap the mentally exhausted person at their lowest point Really quite nasty If that was the end of The End of the Affair I could have been okay with this novel, and tried to overlook the tedious love hate pain God loop tape playing throughout, but uh oh, Greene gives his tortured tale a totally tendentious twist right at the end, where the Rational Atheist is CURED of his facial disfigurement because he snipped off a lock of the hair of the dead Sarah and slept on it Now really, Mr Greene, pull the other one It s got bells on.Conclusion a mixed up mess that doesn t work on any level which inexplicably gets included in 100 Best Novels lists, proving, once again, yes, I m on the wrong planet. Spoil alert Can a reader feel like having a split personality I doubted myself while reading Graham Greene s The End of the Affair I loved it and hated it I thought it certainly deserved 5 stars for a few pages, but later found myself suffering so much and started loathing it So, it could not deserve than 2, right It s not fair to suffer for nothing, I had to make someone pay for it I loved Sarah and Bendrix and despised them at the same time Don t try to understand me, I don t understand myself Such beautiful passages about love, but suddenly it seemed about hate and jealousy, and I found myself betrayed How can someone that loves so deeply, as Greene makes us believe Sarah loved Bendrix, later give him up for a God most of the time she doesn t believe in herself Oh, I could commiserate with Bendrix for being abandoned without any explanation I could not understand Sarah, for I am not even sure if I am a believer But my beliefs are beyond the point So, please, discount my failings in this respect Bendrix s position I could identify with, and did I knew that my love would easily turn to hate after such a betrayal while so much in love Thus, the jealousy I could understand Would I go to such length to prove myself right I don t know, but I was never in his position and being honest with myself I have to say that, hypothetically, I might Greene writes so majestically, that I could live with it all as he speaks of Bendrix or his own pain it is almost a confessional, afterallThe sense of unhappiness is so much easier to convey than that of happiness In misery we seem aware of our own existence, even though it may be in the form of a monstrous egotism this pain of mine is individual, this nerve that winces belongs to me and to no other But happiness annihilates us we lose our identity Enough about how I loved and hated Sarah and Bendrix s love tragedy Summing it up, this is a beautifully written, sad, angry, heartbreaking novel It is about a passionate and illicit love affair that metamorphoses through into a religious epiphany It s the story of Maurice Bendrix, a British writer, who falls in love with Sarah, a woman married to Henry, a civil servant They fall in love in London in 1939, during the Blitz Their passion burn, unstoppable and with no reservations, until she leaves him unexpectedly and all that remains are bitter ashes Betrayal, an understandable reaction is how he reacts and his ensuing preposterous crises of jealousy.The story is not linear, it begins after the break up, and is told by Bendrix in flashbacks It goes back and forth, and in that is expertly done by Greene Ultimately, Bendrix looks at the breakup from the point of view of Sarah, through her journal, and goes forward again as Bendrix tries to make amends for his past jealousy, and ends in a transcendental meditation on divinity He dreams of a reconciliation, but that was not to be Thus Bendrix finelly gets over his anger at Sarah, just to find out she s dying, and turns his anger at God So Greene Bendrix tells at the beginning what The End of the Affair is all aboutWhen I began to write I said this was a story of hatred, but I am not convinced Perhaps my hatred is really as deficient as my love I looked up just now from writing and caught sight of my own face in a mirror close to my desk, and I thought, does hatred really look like thatBut I am here to tell you how I am divided about it When I started reading it, after having seen the movie, I had expectations Expectations are hell they make you biased within yourself But forget about them for the time being See how I was and still am conflicted about their story So, back to the beginning The opening is superb and the ambience for the story is set Bendrix meets Henry walking in the rain, they go for a drink and end up in Sarah and Henry s house, Sarah is also out in that wet night, but soon returns and Bendrix tells usIt s nice to see you, I said Been out for a walk Yes It s a filthy night, I said accusingly, and Henry added with apparent anxiety, You re wet through, Sarah One day you ll catch your death of cold A clich with its popular wisdom can sometimes fall through a conversation like a note of doom, yet even if we had known he spoke the truth, I wonder if either of us would have felt any genuine anxiety Concomitantly we compare love and hate are they not one and the same Sarah herself is conflictedI said to God, So that s it I begin to believe in you, and if I believe in you I shall hate you I have free will to break my promise, haven t I, but I haven t the power to gain anything from breaking it You let me sin, but you take away the fruits of my sin You make me drive love out, and then you say there s no lust for you either What do you expect me to do now, God Where do I go from here So, suddenly The End of the Affair becomes a discussion of God And Sarah pleadsDear God, I ve tried to love and I ve made such a hash of it If I could love you, I d know how to love them I believe you are God Teach me to love I don t mind my pain It s their pain I can t stand Let my pain go on and on, but stop theirs Dear God, if only you could come down from your Cross for a while and let me get up there instead If I could suffer like you, I could heal like you And like Bendrix, towards the end I wanted to yell not this way But Greene conquered me, besides others withWhat a fool I had been during three years to imagine that in any way I had possessed her We are possessed by nobody, not even by ourselves I could not agree with him But at the end of what Bendrix has dubbed his record of hate , he praysO God, You ve done enough, You ve robbed me of enough, I m too tired and old to learn to love, leave me alone for everI kept thinking that I hated and suffered with Bendrix and Sarah, for it s filled with such rolling emotions If I am quoting Greene so much, it s only because I can t tell you better than through his own words So, Sarah s explanation to Bencrix for how she can love him but not be with him, is superbPeople go on loving God, don t they, all their lives without seeing him And another passageCan you explain away love too I asked Oh yes, he said The desire to possess in some, like avarice in others, the desire to surrender, to lose the sense of responsibility, the wish to be admired Sometimes just the wish to be able to talk, to unburden yourself to someone who won t be bored The desire to find again a father or a mother And of course under it all the biological motive A novel written with such passion, such majesty, and that carries the reader through moments of wonder and moments of profound sadness, cannot be anything less than a masterpiece A novel that examines love, obsession, hate and that among it all examines how its protagonists dwindle and suffer in their belief of God, is au concur Nevertheless, despite its beauty for all my suffering I am rating The End of the Affair 4 stars That is the only revenge I can get for the torture I went through while reading it Worst, later I suffered even while I comtemplated how to go about to write my review It probably deserves 5 stars, I am not perfect after all But a reserve the right to change my mind, and perhaps in the future, after a gratifying revisit, I may end granting the ultimate last star Something to look for Ruh roh.Sorry, Ben And Kelly And karen This book really did not do it for me In fact, that is kind of an understatement my two star rating is generous in that I actually feel sort of bad for disliking it as much as I did I know it hits certain people on an emotional, gut deep level and I am not arrogant enough I am arrogant, just not arrogant enough to universally proclaim its lack of literary value My point is that I ve often had people come onto my reviews and say, Oh, thanks for letting me know this book sucks Now I can take it off my shelves Don t do that Don t not read this book on account of this review It is only a reflection of this novel s impact on me, and I am just one person And a relatively unimportant one, at that.Okay, so here is why this book sucks First of all, I was genuinely liking it at the beginning It is absolutely well written, and I enjoyed the narrator s slow reveal of his history with Sarah and Henry I was all geared up to hate the narrator, too, who I thought was going to be some detestable marriage violator It can be a lot of fun hating awful characters, can t it Except as I continued reading, I came to realize that we, the reader, are perhaps not meant to hate Bendrix at all In fact, I think we are being asked to identify with him, possibly, which sucks for me because I can t I don t So thanks, Mr Greene, for taking the fun out of that angle.And then the book shifts to Sarah s journal entries, at which point everything for me came to a grinding, screeching halt Sarah is by far the lamest character ever created Her internal struggle the struggle that lies at the center of the novel s plot is one that I could in no way relate to It is during the description of this struggle that the novel takes a turn into an awkward territory of faith and the challenges presented on account of that faith or lack thereof , and it was simply a huge turnoff for me I ve already returned this book to the library so I can t quote it directly, but certain passages, paraphrased, rang very shallow to me, like, my love for her refused to accept view spoiler her death hide spoiler 5 Stars I just spent 3 days being read to by Colin Firth and it was fantastic This is the best narrated audiobook I have ever listened to Now let me say a little about the book itself I loved it From the first sentence I was entranced in this complicated love affair The writing is exquisite It grabbed my soul and set me on fire This is a record of hate far than of love Maurice Bendrix The End of the Affair is about a writer named Maurice Bendrix Maurice is a very jealous man This is quite ironic because he is jealous of Sarah, the married woman he has had an affair with Sarah ended this affair with Maurice suddenly one day in 1944 Maurice is obsessed with Sarah He is so obsessed and jealous that he even hires a detective to spy on her That is all I m going to say about the book If I go any further I will get into spoiler territory.I need to read classic literature because this book just took my breath away Highly recommended to fans of classic literature and or fans of Colin Firth To get the full experience listen to the audio version with Mr Firth s narration Just a side note that was brought to my attention The book does deal with God and Christianity, specifically Catholicism. Update 11 11 2017 On this, my third experience of Graham Greene s masterpiece, I chose the audiobook, narrated by Colin Firth and I just want to say to all fellow citizens of our beautiful Planet Earth I m sorry.I m truly, truly sorry.I m sorry I was flippant with fossil fuels.I m sorry that I was erroneous with my emissions.I m sorry that I drove my car longer and slower than necessary.I m sorry that I took the long way home.It turns out, in listening to this audiobook of The End of the Affair, I found myself unable resist the indomitable combination of Mr Darcy s oops, I mean Mr Firth s voice and Mr Greene s words.To be frank, I swerved.I swore I swooned.Original review Graham Greene writes like C.S Lewis on crack, like Penelope Lively minus the incest And, at the same time, he writes like no one Greene makes the 1950s seem the modern day, and bipolarity a gift we all wish to have He stirs the pot, turns all of your ideology out through your ear, and stabs you right in the jugular as he inquires if you d care to try the chocolate mousse If you like fluff, or if you read summer reads all year through, this is not the book for you Not the book for you.But, if you are willing to sacrifice a few fingernails, parts of an eyebrow, and a crying jag or two, this book might be for you Might be for you.I m going to stay in the fetal position and read it all over again.
- 160 pages
- The End of the Affair
- Graham Greene
- 24 January 2019 Graham Greene