Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The End of the Affair

I finished Graham Greene's The End of the Affair yesterday, and I have to admit that overall I didn't enjoy it. I'm sure I'll go to literary hell for that statement.

Technically I found the novel well-written. Greene is a master craftsman; there is so much colour and dimension in his work. I enjoyed the fact that the protagonist was a writer too - and spoke about his struggle with writing the story. It gave the novel an interesting modern twist.

But it still left me cold. I studied English at university but Greene's work and my reading choices were like ships in the night. I didn't know a lot about him or his interest in Catholicism.

So when the novel shifted from an obsessional love story to a study in metaphysics I lost interest. The protagonist seemed to lose his previous personality and character and become Greene's mouthpiece on the subject, and suddenly the novel adopted the tone of a treatise.

I do believe that great literature should deal with the great unanswered questions like life after death and religion's place in society, but the two parts of the novel did not gel together for me. Subjectively it was not my cup of tea...but I couldn't fault Greene's incredible command of colour and metaphor.

8 comments:

Calistro said...

I have to admit I've never read the book but I LOVE the film. Have you seen it?

Yvonne said...

Calistro, I haven't seen the film but I've heard great things about it - I'd like to see how they interpret the story.

Lane said...

I've never read it either or seen the film:-(

re your previous post I love Anne Tyler. If you haven't already read Digging To America, it's a must:-)

KAREN said...

I haven't read the book or seen the film either, but I have read a Graham Greene novel (can't remember which one, didn't like it!) and agree that he writes very well.

Random Reflections said...

I read The End of the Affair about three or four months ago and thought it was brilliant. It's not often I really love a book, but this one I did. I thought it was really cleverly crafted - including people making pacts/ hating a God that they didn't believe existed.

Most books just wash over me but I was so impressed by this one. Incidentally, I thought it was much better than the film.

But having said all that, I guess if the central dilemmas in it don't interest you then the book wouldn't appeal particularly.

HelenMH said...

I find Graham Greene a bit hit and miss as well. Good writing but sometimes hard work.

Yvonne said...

Lane, must give Digging To America a go then!

Karen, it was strange - I loved the writing, just not the plot.

Random Reflections, I love it when a book grabs you like that. This one obviously didn't, but that was a subjective thing - you can't deny his talent though. A great writer.

Helen, it was hard work but I'm glad I read it.

Debs said...

I've not read the book but did love the film.

The only Graham Greene novel I've read was Brighton Rock (had to do it for GCSE) and loved it.