Monday, November 1, 2010

Five best books on innocents and innocence lost

Cynthia Ozick's latest book, the novel Foreign Bodies, has just been published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

For the Wall Street Journal, she named a five best list of books on innocents and innocence lost.

One title on the list:
The Heart of the Matter
by Graham Greene (1948)

In the heart of this novel of war, smuggling, spying and illicit love, a ship carrying civilians is broken up at sea. After 40 days in open boats, the survivors are brought to an African colony presided over by British officialdom and a handful of humorless Catholic missionaries. Among the ailing passengers are young Mrs. Rolt, freshly widowed by her husband's drowning, and a boy suffering from fever. Maj. Henry Scobie, a police officer, is called on to read aloud to the child from the mission's collection of dry-as-dust pious uplift. In a rush of spontaneous invention and moral ingenuity, Scobie transforms "A Bishop Among the Bantus" into a suitably violent pirate yarn. But soon his fabrications accelerate: from the lie that comforts to the lie that deceives. In an excess of pity and love—moved to desire by the pathos of Mrs. Rolt, steeped in tenderness for his unsuspecting wife—Scobie plummets ever deeper into guilt-haunted sin. Yet if too much loving compassion makes a sinner, then how do we recognize an innocent?
Read about the other four books on Ozick's list.

--Marshal Zeringue