Laura Marsh on the Enduring Appeal of Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair
From the History of Literature Podcast with Jacke Wilson
For tens of thousands of years, human beings have been using fictional devices to shape their worlds and communicate with one another. Four thousand years ago they began writing down these stories, and a great flourishing of human achievement began. We know it today as literature, a term broad enough to encompass everything from ancient epic poetry to contemporary novels. How did literature develop? What forms has it taken? And what can we learn from engaging with these works today? Hosted by Jacke Wilson, an amateur scholar with a lifelong passion for literature, The History of Literature takes a fresh look at some of the most compelling examples of creative genius the world has ever known.
In the aftermath of World War II, author Graham Greene was in personal and professional agony. His marriage was on the rocks, his soul was struggling to find its home, and his restless spirit had taken him into the bedrooms of multiple women. After several tumultuous years (“grotesquely complicated” was how he described his personal life), he sat down to record his feelings about one lover in particular, the wealthy (and married) American heiress, Catherine Walston. The result was one of the most powerful, suspenseful, and moving novels of all time. In this episode, Jacke talks to Laura Marsh about the enduring appeal of The End of the Affair.
Laura Marsh is the literary editor of The New Republic and co-host of the podcast “The Politics of Everything.” She has written for The New York Review of Books, The Nation, Dissent, The Times Literary Supplement, and Literary Review. Previously she was an editor at the New York Review of Books.