Voices of Desire: Heteroglossia in Graham Greene's The End of the Affair
- ECU Author/Contributor (non-ECU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
- Cheryl Scott (Creator)
- East Carolina University (ECU )
- Web Site: http://www.ecu.edu/lib/
Abstract: The voice of the author permeates the novel, according to Mikhail Bakhtin, and this voice is not isolated to the words or convictions of a particular character. The characters in the novel are masked with dialogue, personalities, ideas, and words. These masked characters set up dialogues and thoughts which not only oppose each other, but also oppose themselves because their views and positions are not static, but fluid. Bakhtin suggests that this art, the ability to disguise authorial voice among the voices of distinct and developed characters with shifting positions, is unique to the novel. Graham Greene, in The End of the Affair, utilizes the social contexts of speech characterization: the voice of the writer, a public servant, a detective, and a wife. Authorial voice is refracted by discourse between the characters as well as discourse through first person narration. The character voices also set up ambivalent relationships; for example, the voices of lovers, Sarah and Maurice and the voices of a husband and wife, Henry and Sarah. The structuring of these characters with their ambivalent voices make a Bakhtinian study an appropriate methodology. Through varying philosophies and methodologies, meaning in this text has been explored; yet, these studies lack a crucial element in interpreting the text. Critics, up to this point, have interpreted the text as a search for religious or philosophical truth. The few exceptions that exist seek a biographical truth, a link between the life of Greene and his writing. Up to this point, critics have not investigated the nature of desire in Greene's work, specifically heterosexual desire as the driving force of the novel. Italo Calvino describes desire as a force, a force that propels itself beyond boundaries, beyond love even, from inaction to action, and from unlivable to livable, based on a reading of Northrop Frye's Anatomy of Criticism. Desire, as discussed by Calvino and based on Frye's observation, seems to parallel Bakhtin's methodology. Moreover, Bakhtin's oscillation of voices seems to parallel Calvino‟s and Frye‟s ideas of desire. The character voices refract the voice of the author and also refract the expression of desire into separate character voices. These separate character voices, then, can be seen as ambivalent desires. That is, Bakhtin implies that the competing voices within the world of the novel may reveal the voice of Greene. This study will attempt to explore how the voices of desire in The End of the Affair have been used by Greene to reflect a socio-ideological position of desire present at the time of publication.
- Date: 1905
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