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A Grain of FaithReligion in Mid-Century British Literature$
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Allan Hepburn

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198828570

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198828570.001.0001

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Saints and Miracles: The End of the Affair

Saints and Miracles: The End of the Affair

(p.86) 3 Saints and Miracles: The End of the Affair
A Grain of Faith

Allan Hepburn

Oxford University Press

Miracles rarely appear in novels, yet Graham Greene includes several of them in The End of the Affair. Sarah Miles heals a boy suffering from appendicitis and a man with a disfigured cheek. Like a saint, she seems to heal or revive through her compassionate touch, as when she raises her lover, who may or may not have died in a bomb blast, by touching his hand. This chapter locates Sarah’s interventions amidst debates about miracles, beginning with David Hume’s sceptical rejection of inexplicable phenomena, through such mid-century books as C. S. Lewis’s Miracles and Dorothy Sayers’ The Mind of the Maker. The inherent godlessness of novels, as Georg Lukacs puts the matter in Theory of the Novel, would seem to ban mystical content altogether from novelistic discourse. Yet this chapter argues for the revaluation of mystical content—the ordeals of the whisky priest in The Power and the Glory, for example—within the generic precincts of the novel.

Keywords:   miracle, Graham Greene, mysticism, novel, saint, scepticism

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