Monday 16 May 2011

The End of the Affair by Graham Greene

"I had to touch you with my hands, I had to taste you with my tongue; one can't love and do nothing."

Well, Mr. Greene, you've surely written another masterpiece. I'm struck with an ineffable sensation of awe after finishing this book which happens to not just be the most romantic novel I have ever read but easily one of the best pieces of literature I have ever stumbled upon. This is one of those life-affirming type of novels. Unfortunately, I am going to have to take a break from reading now because everything else I pick up is bound to pale in comparison. I have not come across any novel that accurately and honestly depicts the perplexing nature of romantic love in all of its joy and contradictions. The novel completely resonates with my own beliefs on the subject; of course, the main difference being that Greene is a lot more philosophical and eloquent with his words than I can ever hope to be. I finished this novel in one sitting and by the time I reached the last page I was moved to damn near tears; not so much by the story's tragedy but by Greene's keen insight of love, human relationships, religion, death: Life itself. I have always admired Greene's brevity, his elegant introspective prose full of rich irony that often focuses on flawed characters struggling with their faith but in this novel, he is at the apex of his powers. [Insert interminable superlatives here].

There were times throughout the novel where it seems Greene was perhaps advocating Catholicism and one could probably make that claim but I disagree; he isn't so much as surreptitiously trying to convert readers to the Catholic faith but using the religious doctrine and principles as a thematic structure to the story and to place his characters in their own spiritual crises as a way to tackle the complex issue of religious faith and existentialism (a literary element prevalent in all of his works I have read thus far). Greene's theological concerns may stem from Catholicism but he is more interested in the complex questions of God's existence, love and what it means to live a meaningful life. There are no easy answers. According to the general consensus, it is still hard to believe that I have not yet read his supposedly best works which include Brighton Rock along with Power and the Glory. It will certainly be difficult for any of his works to top End of the Affair for me but considering Greene's masterful writing, I would not rule out the possibility of such an occurrence.

Read on April 29, 2010

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