Customer Reviews for

The Heart of the Matter: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)

Average Rating 4.5
( 11 )
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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2008

    Scobie Must Choose

    Graham Greene is my favorite author and this book just adds to my esteem of him. Scobie is a police officer who cannot resist saving and comforting the pitiable aspects of people and life. His wife's 'ugliness' 'more than just the physical' and his pity of that keeps him only interested in making her happy...until he is granted freedom when she decides to travel to the south of Africa with a friend. Then, he is drawn by pity to a recently married and more recently widowed survivor of a sinking ship. His feelings of love, guilt, and responsibility for both women come to a head when his wife returns. The religious inner dialogue of this novel and all of Greene's works that I've read provide insights into my life and my world that are timeless. This book was published in 1948 and it speaks to me more than fiction that I've read published this year. I recommend Greene's writing, not just this novel, because once you begin reading you can trust that he will deliver a thought-provoking and awakening piece of writing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2000

    The confusion of pity and love

    I stumbled onto Graham Greene in a roundabout way, so I failed to anticipate his stature as an Important Novelist; I thought he was a man who wrote books that were turned into excellent films, and then I read a short story by him called 'The Basement Room' that happened to be posted online. What a revelation. The previous reviewer griped about the religiosity of this book, but novels as complex and careful about their characters as this one--and Greene is one of the most acid and assiduous chroniclers of the indecisions of the heart as any I have encountered--are not so easily pigeonholed into decisions about morality. His Major Scobie is torn between conflicting senses of duty--to his church, and to his two women--and in the end it is uncertain after all whether he was a weak man or a strong man, and whether he was a good man or bad. The dialogues are crisp and exact; characters revolve in their own constricting passions; and the colonial life is drawn unsentimentally and candidly. Greene is a master craftsman, and his moralizations evolve from character; not, I believe, vice versa.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2000


    Probably one of the best written English novels I have ever read. The fall of a man's soul, debated in a destructive conflict between ancient principles and cultural restraints, and discovered needs and emotions. As a background, a back-door view of the 'glories' of colonization: a little hell for expatriots and Africans alike. Don't expect a lot of suspense, but a short, keen, immensely introspective search for truth and human dignity.

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