The Heart of the Matter (英語) ペーパーバック – 2004/11/2
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With a new introduction by James Wood
Scobie, a police officer serving in a wartime west-African state, is distrusted — being scrupulously honest and immune to bribery. But then he falls in love, and in so doing, he is forced to betray everything he believes in, with drastic and tragic consequences.
"A superb storyteller with a gift for provoking controversy."
—New York Times
“Greene had the sharpest eyes for trouble, the finest nose for human weaknesses, and was pitilessly honest in his observations . . . For experience of a whole century he was the man within.”
—Norman Sherry, Independent
The major, caught between his demanding wife and his young ward, is the true victim here. The church's regulations on thought and behavior, leaving nothing to the reason of the believer, is shown in all its emptiness. Major Scobie, the lifelong devout Catholic, is left with only the most hideous of choices in his quest for righteousness.
This carefully crafted novel sneaks up on the reader unless he or she is forewarned. The story could be situated anywhere, but in the barest of civilizations, wonderfully detailed by the author, it is especially poignant. It is certainly one of the most moving and essential pieces of fiction of the last century.
The book is highly descriptive and the author weaves it wonderfully into the narrative. It lists at a little over 250 pages, but it is more like a 350 page book. I strongly recommend this book, but I warn that this is not a book to be rushed through. It is a deep and penetrating look at religion and colonization and it leaves the reader pondering many important issues that are as relevant today as the day this wonderful novel was published.
It has been said that "a fictional marrative should show and not tell," and Greene is brilliant in doing that. This is the first of his books that I've read, and I'm hooked. On the other hand, I found it difficult to believe in Scobie, his protagonist, who allows himself to be tormented by his nagging, neurotic, self-centered wife (as a high-level police officer, one would expect him to be tougher). Also, this is one of Greene's "Catholic" novels, and the last third of the book goes on at great length about Scobie's relationship with the Church and God. As a nonbeliever, I felt that Scobie would have been better served by a good therapist, were one available at his time and place..