Thursday, February 19, 2009

Graham Greene

I finished The End of the Affair and find it terribly fascinating in a variety of ways, not the least of which is the wild freedom that Graham Greene, who was Catholic, enjoys. There is sex here. Adultery. Hate. Prostitution. (Woo-hoo?) It's the stuff of life that has always seemed too hush-hush, and yet Greene, out of such despair and joy and love and lust and spent humanity creates something beautiful that is difficult to describe other than with the book itself. This book is a triumph of God's mercy - a very un-Victorian look at the Victorian Thompson's "The Hound of Heaven." Of the Catholic authors I've read, this book is perhaps the most evangelical, if I can use the word, the most stripped-down, bared-bones call to God and Catholicism without completely crossing the line into a novelized tract (as some miserable Christian fictions cannot seem to rise above, who perhaps lack the freedom to rise above) - and while the narrator resists God's call entirely, you sense that even he knows that he is resisting Something rather than nothing. It's terribly, terribly fascinating to me.

This novel is my first introduction to Graham Greene and he's now on my list of authors with whom I must better familiarize myself with - and the thought of the Waughs and Greenes out there, undiscovered and unread, excite me. When I was younger, I remember hearing of Greene's being a Christian and then hearing that his novels weren't very Christian at all, and so, in my shining purity, I never neared one of his books - what a shame. Although, to be entirely frank, at the time I surely would not have been ready for such a story as this.

What is exciting for me, as well, I suppose, as a man who wants at some point in his life to write a novel, who contemplates such a feat more than works toward it, is the beauty that Waugh and Greene find in life, and the mercy imbedded within it. And how God redeems, woos us, is faithful - best of lovers.

Btw, the novel also corresponded in some odd ways to this past Monday's episode of House, which I'd recommend heartily. "So very many coincidences," indeed.


Scott Lyons said...

And, by the way, Graham Greene is no Danielle Steele when it comes to the sex (from what I've heard of her). Nothing so explicit/graphic.

Dan said...

Great summary--thanks for the book report. I fell in love with it as well, and when I have some time later, I'll post a few of my thoughts. I agree that it's one of the most Christian novels ever written. I'm working on The Power and the Glory right now--about the "Whiskey Priest," a very real Christ figure. Powerful, in a different way.

kkollwitz said...

"Greene's being a Christian and then hearing that his novels weren't very Christian"

Well....I'd say they exhibit a very Catholic worldview, which reflects on Sin as well as Goodness.

I'd also recommend 'The Comedians' among his books I've read.

PostPaganBaby said...

I love Greene. I've only been able to get my students to read one of his short stories, "The Destructors," but am looking forward to introducing them to a longer work (probably, THE POWER AND THE GLORY).

God rest his soul. The Church needs more like him (and fewer Andrew Greeley's or cross-dressing Danielle Steele's!). I need more like him.

Have you checked out Cormac McCarthy's THE ROAD (terrible, brutal, great and scary).

Scott Lyons said...

Postpagan, I haven't read McCarthy. So thanks for the recommendation. I also want to get The Power and the Glory, which seems to rise to the top of recommendations for Greene.