A Timely Read: Graham Greene’s ‘The End of The Affair’

All, Passages

Picked out Graham Greene’s acclaimed 1951 novel ‘The End of The Affair’ from my bookshelf and did not put it down until it was over. It felt very timely – as most significant reads somehow do. And I’m still thinking of it… rather tenderly.

A few passages in particular caught me in the throat:

“More than anything in the world I wanted to hurt Sarah. I wanted to take a woman back with me and lie with her upon the same bed in which I made love to Sarah; it was as though I knew that the only way to hurt her was to hurt myself.”

“Looking at her over my whiskey I thought how odd it was that I felt no desire for her at all. It was as if quite suddenly after all the promiscuous years I had grown up. My passion for Sarah had killed simple lust for ever. Never again would I be able to enjoy a woman without love.”

“I remembered how Sarah had prayed to the God she didn’t believe in, and now I spoke to the Sarah I didn’t believe in. I said: You sacrificed both of us once to bring me back to life, but what sort of a life is this without you?”

And poor, dear Perkis… how he “…had not heard that” about Lancelot. What a zinger!

There is, however – to my mild chagrin – a “surprise” twist of sorts, at the end, at which point the book’s acclaim as a ‘Catholic novel’ becomes clear. Points of faith aside, my jaw is still floored on the whole – even with the ending; although, at the end of my affair, with my Sarah, I stand indifferent to a God; however, this only proves the author’s point that we only hate what we love.