The End of the Affair – Graham Greene

While reading The End of the Affair, I thought of a Native American proverb that I read somewhere years ago, and I believe it with all my heart: When you have learned about love, you have learned about God.


I started believing in God the first time I fell in love, and for the first time when my heart was broken by love, I thought for the first time that I truly understood my mother. This first love had irreparably changed my life and me. The End of the Affair reminded me both how crazy love is and how religion (or the need to take refuge in something) is born with love. I thanked the gods of literature because I realised there are so many things I forgot that I’ve forgotten! How would I remember them without books?

The End of the Affair - Graham Greene

We are listening to The End of the Affair from a writer, Maurice Bendrix, while wartime London provides an excellent background to the story. Maurice describes his relationship with a married woman named Sarah in every detail in his own way. Reading about Maurice’s feelings and thoughts about Sarah and their relationship doesn’t make you feel much at first. We just think what a jealous and paranoid person he is.

However, Sarah decides to end their relationship after the day they were hurt in the airstrike. And again, caught in his own paranoia and thoughts, Maurice accuses Sarah of unseemly things in his head. And finally, the true feelings of both the reader and Maurice are revealed when Maurice reads Sarah’s diary. At the same time, there comes prayers and reproaches to God.

The End of the Affair is one of the best novels that anyone who has fallen in love will read with all sorts of feelings. It was made into a film in 1955 and 1999, but most people’s favourite is the 1999 adaptation starring Julianne Moore and Ralph Fiennes. I suggest you read The End of the Affair first and then watch the film. With love!

When you have learned about love, you have learned about God.

Fox proverb
The End of the Affair - Graham Greene

The End of the Affair

The End of the Affair, Graham Greene’s masterful novel of love and betrayal in World War II London is “undeniably a major work of art” (The New Yorker).
The End of the Affair: Maurice Bendrix, a writer in Clapham during the Blitz, develops an acquaintance with Sarah Miles, the bored, beautiful wife of a dull civil servant named Henry. Maurice claims it’s to divine a character for his novel-in-progress. That’s the first deception. What he really wants is Sarah, and what Sarah needs is a man with passion.

So begins a series of reckless trysts doomed by Maurice’s increasing romantic demands and Sarah’s tortured sense of guilt. Then, after Maurice miraculously survives a bombing, Sarah ends the affair—quickly, absolutely, and without explanation. It’s only when Maurice crosses paths with Sarah’s husband that he discovers the fallout of their duplicity—and it’s more unexpected than Maurice, Henry, or Sarah herself could have imagined.
Adapted for film in both 1956 and 1999,The End of the Affair, Greene’s novel of all that inspires love—and all that poisons it—is “singularly moving and beautiful” (Evelyn Waugh).

Graham Greene

Graham Greene, in full Henry Graham Greene, (born October 2, 1904, Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, England—died April 3, 1991, Vevey, Switzerland), English novelist, short-story writer, playwright, and journalist whose novels treat life’s moral ambiguities in the context of contemporary political settings.

His father was the headmaster of Berkhamsted School, which Greene attended for some years. After running away from school, he was sent to London to a psychoanalyst in whose house he lived while under treatment. After studying at Balliol College, Oxford, Greene converted to Roman Catholicism in 1926, partly through the influence of his future wife, Vivien Dayrell-Browning, whom he married in 1927.

The End of the Affair - Graham Greene

He moved to London and worked for The Times as a copy editor from 1926 to 1930. His first published work was a book of verse, Babbling April (1925), and upon the modest success of his first novel, The Man Within (1929; adapted as the film The Smugglers, 1947), he quit The Times and worked as a film critic and literary editor for The Spectator until 1940. He then traveled widely for much of the next three decades as a freelance journalist, searching out locations for his novels in the process.

Greene worked for the Foreign Office during World War II and was stationed for a while at Freetown, Sierra Leone, the scene of another of his best-known novels, The Heart of the Matter (1948; film 1953). This book traces the decline of a kindhearted British colonial officer whose pity for his wife and mistress eventually leads him to commit suicide. The End of the Affair (1951; films 1955 and 1999) is narrated by an agnostic in love with a woman who forsakes him because of a religious conviction that brings her near to sainthood.

Greene published several collections of short stories, among them Nineteen Stories (1947; revised as Twenty-one Stories, 1954). Among his plays are The Living Room (performed 1952) and The Potting Shed (1957). His Collected Essays appeared in 1969. A Sort of Life (1971) is a memoir to 1931, to which Ways of Escape (1980) is a sequel. In J’accuse (1982) Greene denounced a family friend’s former husband and showed evidence of government corruption in the French city of Nice.

A collection of his film criticism is available in Mornings in the Dark: The Graham Greene Film Reader (1993). In 2007 a selection of his letters was published as Graham Greene: A Life in Letters. The unfinished manuscript The Empty Chair, a murder mystery that Greene began writing in 1926, was discovered in 2008; serialization of it began the following year.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges: 

Read Around the World, A Great Journey

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