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1. The Power and the Glory (Penguin
2. The Comedians (Penguin Classics)
3. Our Man in Havana (Penguin Classics)
4. The Heart of the Matter: (Penguin
5. A Burnt-Out Case (Classic, 20th-Century,
6. Complete Short Stories (Penguin
7. Monsignor Quixote (Penguin Classics)
8. Orient Express (Penguin Classics
9. Brighton Rock (Penguin Classics
10. The Quiet American (Penguin Classics
11. The Life of Graham Greene: Volume
12. Stamboul Train: An Entertainment
13. The Honorary Consul (Penguin Classics)
14. Journey Without Maps (Penguin
15. The Heart of the Matter ; Orient
16. The Third Man and The Fallen Idol
17. England Made Me (Classic, 20th-Century,
18. The Graham Greene Film Reader:
19. Travels with My Aunt (Penguin
20. The Ministry of Fear: An Entertainment

1. The Power and the Glory (Penguin Classics)
by Graham Greene
Paperback: 240 Pages (2003-02-25)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$6.91
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0142437301
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
In a poor, remote section of southern Mexico, the Red Shirts have taken control. God has been outlawed, and the priests have been systematically hunted down and killed. Now, the last priest strives to overcome physical and moral cowardice in order to find redemption.

Introduction by John UpdikeAmazon.com Review
How does good spoil, and how can bad be redeemed? In his penetratingnovel The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene explores corruption andatonement through a priest and the people he encounters. In the 1930s oneMexican state has outlawed the Church, naming it a source of greed anddebauchery. The priests have been rounded up and shot by firing squad--saveone, the whisky priest. On the run, and in a blur of alcohol and fear,this outlaw meets a dentist, a banana farmer, and a village woman he knewsix years earlier. For a while, he is accompaniedby a toothless man--whomhe refers to as his Judas and does his best to ditch. Always, an adamantlieutenant is only a few hours behind, determined to liberate his countryfrom the evils of the church.

On the verge of reaching a safer region, the whisky priest is repeatedlyheld back by his vocation, even though he no longer feels fit to performhis rites: "When he was gone it would be as if God in all this spacebetween the sea and the mountains ceased to exist. Wasn't it his duty tostay, even if they despised him, even if they were murdered for his sake?even if they were corrupted by his example?"

As his sins and dangers increase, the broken priest comes to confront thenature of piety and love. Still, when he is granted a reprieve, he feelshimself sliding into the old arrogance, slipping it on like the blackgloves he used to wear. Greene has drawn this man--and all heencounters--vividly and viscerally. He may have said The Power and theGlory was "written to a thesis," but this brilliant theologicalthriller has far more mysteries--and troubling ideals--than certainties.--Joannie Kervran Stangeland ... Read more

Customer Reviews (114)

3-0 out of 5 stars Why all this Christianity?
It seems like Greene is trying to express his view about what a decent Christian is in this book. In that respect "The Power and the Glory" is running the same errand as Dostoyevsky's "The Idiot". Anyway both books are quite boring. Judging this book against Greenes own high standard, it's not one of Greenes best books.

3-0 out of 5 stars The power and the glory
Bought the book for a seminar I am about to attend.The book arrived in a timely fashion and in good condition. Let me say it is not a book I'd buy for pleasure.It is about the persecution of religion in Mexico and was written in the 1940's by Graham Greene when he was living in Haiti but had just come back from travels in Mexico.Apparently the RC Church was all about power and glory, abused the poor people of Mexico, but also brought the Sacraments and comfort of God's word to them.An atheistic government decided to get rid of religion in Mexico and closed the churches, eliminated the priests, one way or another - by chasing them out, forcing them to marry or killing them.It is told from the point of view of one nameless on-the-run priest, a very confused little fellow, with a illegitimate daughter, and totally confused by guilt, trying to hold onto his main function, bringing the Sacraments to people.He is, of course, shot/executed at the end of the book. I found it excruciating to read, but a valuable book to have read.It certainly is not a travel book on Mexico!
Linda Sheean

5-0 out of 5 stars "He wasn't afraid yet."
When I sat down to write this review, I read an anecdote about the writing of this book. According to the autobiography of Alberto Cavalcanti, Greene fled to Mexico because of a lawsuit inspired by a review he wrote of a Shirley Temple film. In the review, Greene portrayed her fans as middle-aged men who were misdirecting inappropriate urges towards the child star. Twentieth Century Fox sued, and Greene set course for Mexico. So without Shirley Temple, The Power and the The Glory might never have been written. Who knew?

Anyhow. The book has nothing to do with Shirley Temple. It's part of the group known as Green's Catholic novels (the others are Brighton Rock, The Heart of the Matter and The End of the Affair). It features a weak "whiskey priest" who can't seem to renounce his faith in the face of government persecution. Rather than an act of bravery, Greene makes it clear that it comes from cowardice and laziness and force of habit as much as it does any faith in God. But in the end, we're just as clear that the distinctions don't matter. Faith is disconnected from the subjective and personal-- and left simply as fact. The whiskey priest is a flawed priest, but a priest for all of that.

It's a dark, restless, and brutal book. It isn't uplifting or even particularly redemptive. This despite what could reasonably be read as a book about the endurance of the church, and about the forgiveness of God.

Greene is an excellent writer. A book that sticks.

2-0 out of 5 stars Steer clear unless you're religious
Not really worth the read. The text is about a priest on the run in a state trying to stamp out Catholicism. The typical plot about persecution and perseverance then ensues.

Throughout it all, the priest charges for confessions and mass, bargaining for his trade. I know this is basically how he makes his living, but it irks me to see him charging for it, even if he lowers the price from 5 pesos to 1 peso because they are poor.

In the end, the only redeeming quality of this book is that the priest is a deeply flawed character addicted to alcohol and has a child. The self-moral reality check and eventual progression are good but better told in other stories without being weighted down by religious confliction.

4-0 out of 5 stars Redemption
This is one of Greene's "Catholic" books, and regarded by some as his best novel. The plot focuses on a Mexican priest, hunted by the law for practicing Catholicism in a state where Catholicism is now prohibited.

The priest is a "whiskey priest", searching as much for brandy as for God. He's caught in reflection on his own shortcomings as a priest, unworthy even of being hunted down for practicing his religion since he has, in his own evaluation, failed miserably.

He has fathered a child and left the child and mother. When he visits the village where they live, the law closes in on him, but the mother of his child protects him and hides his identity, adding to his unworthiness scorecard.

His "redemption" is martyrdom, which of course he doesn't believe he deserves. On the brink of freedom, he returns, knowing that he will be captured, and finally accepts the fate of martyrdom, providing the only tie from his inner unworthiness to the outer martyrdom he will achieve. ... Read more

2. The Comedians (Penguin Classics)
by Graham Greene
Paperback: 320 Pages (2005-01-25)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$9.12
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0143039199
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Three men meet on a ship bound for Haiti, a world in the grip of the corrupt "Papa Doc" and the Tontons Macoute, his sinister secret police. Brown the hotelier, Smith the innocent American, and Jones the confidence man—these are the "comedians" of Greene’s title. Hiding behind their actors’ masks, they hesitate on the edge of life. They are men afraid of love, afraid of pain, afraid of fear itself...Amazon.com Review
One of Graham Greene's most chilling and prophetic novels,The Comedians is set in a Haiti ruled by Papa Doc and theTontons Macoute, his sinister secret police. Just as The QuietAmerican offered a preview of the coming horrors of Americaninvolvement in Vietnam, this novel presages the chaos in Haiti.Classic Graham Greene. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (30)

5-0 out of 5 stars Best book on Haiti ever!
This is a very good book. The book has numerous qualities. Greenes characters are impressive. Not only are they very well drawn, they also all retain all of them a secret of their own, so one gets an accute sense that you don't really know them, just like the people that surrounds you in your life. If this is not Greenes best book - My God!
- Then he must be an absolutely brilliant writer! We don't get too much to know about the "I" of this novel, but as the novel progresses you get the sense of this presence, this void, this vaccuum, which is lurking behind the "I". At some point one of his friends interogates him
- So what do you want Brown? He says he wants to run the hotel and make some money, but the friend continue,
- Yeah but what do you really want? We don't get an answer, but there is something fishy about Brown.
At some point in the novel it also turn all metafiction like, Browns girlfriend is complaining that the people surrounding Brown don't really exist for him, they just play a part in his scheme, in his creative fantasy.

5-0 out of 5 stars Review by The Literate Man ([...])
The following is a review I posted on the weblog, The Literate Man ([...]), on April 28, 2010:

As the tragedy in Haiti continues to unfold, Graham Greene's treatment of the corruption and terror of the regime of Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier and the Tonton Macoute seems newly relevant.Obviously, the government has changed, though one still hears the cries of corruption from every corner, and the secret police are no longer the primary source of fear for a population that now battles daily for its very survival.But the core message of The Comedians remains a pointed criticism not only of Haiti's failings, but of our own as mere bystanders (i.e., comedians) in observing a society descend into utter chaos.

Greene is perhaps the most consistently successful writer in the English language when it comes to crafting characters that are hopelessly conflicted within themselves.The Comedians is no exception.The American hotelier, Mr. Brown, is a bit player in the revolutionary movement and is occassionally persecuted by the Tonton Macoute, but declines to ever dedicate himself to the cause, instead preferring to focus on his budding affair with Martha Pineda, the wife of a South American Ambassador.Of course, ultimately the affair is a mere distraction (as are the Smiths' efforts to establish a vegetarian center in a country that is literally falling to pieces about them) and the larger events of Haiti pass them by as they eventually decide one by one to leave the country to its madness.

The counterpoint to the indifference of Brown and Smith is Major Jones, who ultimately dedicates himself to the cause entirely, though he has little actual experience in such affairs.Greene does not paint him as a hero, however, as his ultimate sacrifice leads not to a new dawn in Haiti, but only to the loss of his life and the flight of his routed troops over the border to the Dominican Republic.Ultimately, The Comedians is a masterpiece of do-gooder desire and shameful impotence, and the reader walks away as conflicted as the characters that inhabit the story.

5-0 out of 5 stars great novel, poor edition
A great novel, and a great read...this is less about Haiti than about modern man, an empty self where everything is possible and survivable.

But this editon is badly proof read.Shame on you Penguin--at least 10 typos, and several mis-used words that must be the result of automatic spell check.And Paul Theroux's introduction is cranky.Buy the book but not this version.

5-0 out of 5 stars FATE AND FAITH
Where are the zombies when we need them? In voodoo belief they worked at night in the cemeteries. Now in the unspeakable acreage of death and devastation that is Haiti another buried survivor has miraculously been found more than two weeks after the earthquake. In the nature of the case there can't be many more such miracles, and the task of uncovering the dead is not the first priority, but it is still there waiting to be tackled and it looks as if it may need supernatural intervention. From a horrified onlooker far from the scene the only help is any money one can afford. If prayers do any good we can try those, but as a mark of respect for a people whose suffering is past comprehension, I suppose that most of us, apart from thanking any gods there may be for our own escape, can at least gain a little more understanding of how it was for Haitians before this new disaster struck. You might have thought that they had suffered enough by then, and probably no historical account can depict the thick spiritual darkness, felt over all the land, in the way Graham Greene does in this extraordinary novel.

Greene is both a great writer and a great novelist. His writing has an unmistakable tone of its own, clear, elegant and with his own individual sense of irony. Just as a story, The Comedians seems very original to me, (just read that description of the voodoo ritual), and the characterisation is memorable. The Tontons Macoute for example are unsurprisingly repulsive, but even their commander comes across as a real person and not as a puppet or caricature. Both the narrator (Brown) and the con-man Jones are slightly seedy, but watch Jones's exit and you may get a slight surprise when he shows something approaching nobility. The liberal vegetarian idealist couple the Smiths are touched in with beautiful tongue-in-cheek humour. The sea-captain (and his wife's photo), Brown's moody mistress and her cuckolded ambassador husband and sundry others are nicely drawn too. Easily the noblest member of the cast is the communist Dr Magiot, and he serves as a vehicle for some of the author's deeper musings. Looming behind them all like one of the dark gods of Dahomey is Papa Doc himself. He never comes out of his palace, and I felt that some kind of retrospective justice had been achieved in the midst of the earthquake's carnage when I saw the dome of that rather fine building slumped forward towards its lawn like the head of some victim of the Tontons Macoute.

The story actually begins in the inter-war years, and from the brief account we are given it seems that Haiti may have been at least a place where life was tolerable. What turned the rural family doctor Francois Duvalier into the monster he became is not explained, but the sinister atmosphere of his rule can be felt palpably on page after page. Is this a political novel? On balance I would say it is, but clearly not everyone agrees. Brown himself, the narrator, is not by temperament political although he can observe and assess the political scene with intelligence, as indeed he had better do if he wants to stay alive. It is the author's own mind that is political, and his dry comments on American policy towards Papa Doc's atrocities - token disapproval followed by tacit support that he obtained easily just by posing as anti-communist - make ironic and illuminating reading in light of some apologias one heard for the recent action in Iraq. The sub-plot of the Smiths is political too, and then there is Dr Magiot.

The book is political up to a point, but the political questions are only a subset of the deeper questions that plagued Greene throughout his life and that give his work so much of its special flavour. On the one hand he is cynical in the best kind of way, unable to take people at their face value although not hostile or uncharitable towards them. On the other he seems to crave faith - faith in `something', with a plan B for substituting faith in something else if he cannot sustain his earlier belief. I would guess his political views were leftish, but he is no ideologue, and his sympathy with Dr Magiot is personal rather than doctrinaire. It fascinates me how a mind of this kind could find so much to attract it in Catholicism, but that was clearly the way it was.He reminds me of Muriel Spark to that extent - they find so much to satirise and mock in their freely embraced faith that I wonder what was left of it after they were through with that.

It can't have been fun living under the incubus of Papa Doc, nor under that of his son and heir. Presumably it improved at least a little under Father Aristide and the others who followed, if only on the basis that there was no way it could get worse. And now it has got worse. Earthquakes are not acts of God except as a manner of speaking in legal documents. They occur through well understood geological processes, although our technology is not yet up to predicting them with precision. What did the people of Haiti do to deserve this? Obviously, nothing. Deserving does not come into the issue. Their infrastructure, if it could even be called that, was pitifully inadequate to cope, and I saw a report that practically the one building in Port-au-Prince that has stood intact is the American embassy. Before we criticise, we can only note that the well-meant aid efforts are not some miracle of efficiency either, and when the monstrous dictator was getting political support (Saddam, where are you now?) this did not stretch to making durable architecture more widely available than the US embassy. Judge not lest we be judged.

5-0 out of 5 stars Life as Comedy
"The Comedians" is one of Graham Greene's best novels. Set in the nebulous world of Papa Doc's Haiti, it is a story of intrigue, betrayal, and faith. Three strangers ... the narrator, Mr. Brown, the idealist, Mr. Smith, and the confidence Man, Mr Jones, meet on a broken-down Dutch freighter enroute to Haiti. Their lives interconnect on the island, amidst the paranoia of Duvalier's dictatorship and the omnipresent secret police, the Tontons Macoutes. One of the most memorable scenes is of a midnight voodoo ceremony involving Brown's servant who later joins the opposition and is never heard from again.There is an ongoing, unsatisfying love affair between Brown and the wife of a South American diplomat. Brown finds himself, despite his lack of patriotism or belief, somehow at home in the "shabby land of terror" where he had found himself.
"There are those who belong by their birth inextricably to a country, who even when they leave it feel the tie.And there are those who belong in a province, a country, a village, but I could feel no link at all with the hundred or so kilometres around the gardens and boulevards of Monte Carlo, a city of transients. I felt a greater tie here, in the shabby land of terror, chosen for me by chance."
Greene writes of the absurdity of life, but at the same time he holds out the hope of survival, even in the hellish slums of Haiti.
Although Greene places his dramas in different locations -- Haiti, Cuba (Our Man in Havana); Africa (The Heart of the Matter); Vietnam (The Quiet American) -- he often returns to the same themes: the loss of (Catholic) faith, the tension between good intentions and practical harm (politics); and the frailties of man -- drinking, sex, and pride. ... Read more

3. Our Man in Havana (Penguin Classics)
by Graham Greene
Paperback: 256 Pages (2007-07-31)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$8.24
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0142438006
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Graham Greene’s classic Cuban spy story, now with a new package and a new introduction

First published in 1959, Our Man in Havana is an espionage thriller, a penetrating character study, and a political satire that still resonates today. Conceived as one of Graham Greene’s "entertainments," it tells of MI6’s man in Havana, Wormold, a former vacuum-cleaner salesman turned reluctant secret agent out of economic necessity. To keep his job, he files bogus reports based on Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare and dreams up military installations from vacuum-cleaner designs. Then his stories start coming disturbingly true. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (74)

2-0 out of 5 stars Not My Cup of Tea
Well for once a Greene book didn't really appeal to me. I think this is meant to be a spy-comedy, but as usual I didn't laugh one single time! I think Greene had intended this to be a good humoured comment to a time which was very tense upon the cold war. Things like that just don't really appeal to me, sory Greene!

4-0 out of 5 stars Intelligent and fun
Graham Greene obviously had fun writing this wonderfully satiric send-up of the espionage business. I smiled through most of the book, and often laughed aloud, and yet the story never veers so far into farce that the reader is able to entirely forget the very real events in Russia and Cuba that made espionage a necessary evil during this perilous moment in world history.

Because this IS Graham Greene, the character development is a step above the norm: the main character, Wormold, is delightfully unexpected; his daughter is engagingly manipulative; and even the corrupt chief of police, a man who carries around a cigarette case fashioned from human skin, turns out to be something richer than the cartoon characiture of a bad guy he might have become in a less gifted author's hands. And it's not only espionage that falls victim to Greene's wit: he also hurls satiric darts at Catholicism, ugly Americans, Cuban culture, and do-gooder international organizations, to name a few.

In summary, thoroughly recommend this to anyone who enjoys their humor with a dose of intellectualism. I've read it twice already but its spot on my bookshelf is secure: one of these years I know I'll be back for more.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Comedy of Errors
Graham Green is a masterful storyteller, and many of his novels are still as fresh and interesting as when they were first written, in many cases more than a half a century ago. He has drawn on his extensive experience as a World-traveling journalist and his time working for the British Foreign Service. This particular novel takes place in pre-revolutionary Cuba, when a lot of different interests were clashing on this Caribbean island. Havana of the time was a bustling city with a lot of international residents. One of them, a divorced Englishman with a teenage daughter, works as a vacuum-cleaner salesman. The business is not going all too well, and he is contemplating how he will continue to provide for the increasingly extravagant needs of his daughter. Unexpectedly he is recruited by the British Secret Service, and he reluctantly agrees to provide them with information that he will gather in the field. Unfortunately, he is really not cut out to be a spy, and in order to keep receiving payments for his services he is forced to invent a whole host of contacts and agents working for him. When a technical report that he sends to the home office becomes too important to handle, he is sent a young secretary in order to help him with his work. This infinitely complicates his deception, and he is at pains to keep the pretense going.

This is one of the more amusing of Graham Green's novels, although it presents a very dark kind of humor. After all, people do get killed and tortured. These are not light matters to deal with even in a satirical work like this one. Furthermore, the book was published in 1958, just a year before the overthrow of the Cuban regime. It is hard to read this book without being mindful of all the tragedies that Cuban people have endured over the past half century.

5-0 out of 5 stars Funny and literate
I have read a lot of literature, and get tired quickly of badly written books. I just discovered this book and I'm nearly forty.

Very funny, very literate, skilled writing. It helps one to get over oneself.

Bad reviews are probably down to people who read it and find there are no bragging rights attached to that achievement.

4-0 out of 5 stars Hilarious and Entertaining
This was the first Graham Greene novel for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.This book is a satirical look at the world of spying--set in Cuba just prior to Castro.The main character is a vacuum cleaner salesman who is reluctantly recruited to become a spy for British intelligence.The problem is that he is not cut out for the job so he just makes up his own spies and his own intelligence.That is comical enough until you find out the British and the Cubans both buy into his made up stories.What happens later is almost reminiscent of Inspector Jacques Clousteau.The ending is especially amusing.Highly recommended. ... Read more

4. The Heart of the Matter: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)
by Graham Greene
Paperback: 288 Pages (2004-09-28)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$6.94
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0142437999
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
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. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (89)

4-0 out of 5 stars Greene at his most philosophical
Graham Greene made the distinction between what he called his "entertainments" --books which often took the form of thrillers or light hearted satire--and his novels--works which contained religious, philosophical or political concerns.The Heart of the Matter falls into the latter group and focuses on the theme of one's love for God versus one's love for another person or people.Scobie, a colonial police officer working in West Africa , is weighed by the responsibility and pity he feels toward his wife Louise.These feeelings lead him to compromise himself--and sin--by borrowing money from a morally suspect moneylender, so that she can relocate to a more comfortable life in South Africa. Later, Scobie becomes involved in an affair with Helen, a woman thirty years his junior who has survived forty days in the open-sea and the loss of her husband following the sinking of their ship. Upon his wife's return, Scobie becomes spiritually and psychologically tormented by his commitments to both women.These commitments, again, lead him to even greater professional and spiritual compromises.

Many people consider The Heart of the Matter, along with The Power and the Glory, The End of the Affair, The Quiet American, and Brighton Rock, among Graham Greene's greatest acheivements as a writer.However, I've never felt Heart quite equals those other works.There's something missing from the story, a type of cohesiveness, that fails to integrate the first part of thebook, which revolves more around Louise, with the later part which deals more with Helen. The pacing, especially during the transition between the two main parts, is slightly off. There also seems to be an occasional conflict between Greene's natural abilities as a storyteller and his desire to explore the theme of love for God versus that of another. Greene's philosophical pursuits are stronger in this book than any other and because of this the story slightly suffers.

Taken as a whole The Heart of the Matter is a flawed masterpiece, which contains passages and scenes worthy of a master. But the book also contains occasional mis-steps that distract from the overall beauty of the story.I recommend this book wholeheartedly because it's by Greene, but do not consider it among his very best.

5-0 out of 5 stars Faith, Race, Doubt, Love, Hate, Morality, Despair - Not Woody Allen either
Graham Greene is usually not commended as a great stylist. But this book defies this pronouncement.There is a subtle, morose desperation that pervades Scobie's life (the protagonist), a British citizen working in Africa as an inspector and law enforcement official with special duties to search ships in port for war contraband.The multi-layered conflicts conspire to render this novel a true work of art, structurally, thematically, and stylistically, which I suppose is what any great book has to have to be great, that is, many superior aspects all working together.Scobie is at war with his own values, with what he is supposed to be and feel as a British citizen, as a Catholic, as a law enforcer, as a representative of an imperial power, and as a man.He fails at coming to terms with the private and public self, and because of this, he suffers.The Heart of the Matter seems drawn from a very deep part of Greene's psyche, and I believe it's his best novel. It is truly amazing that the author of this book also wrote light-hearted, comic novels as well.I don't know whether Greene had in mind the view that this book could be considered the acme of his work, under which all his other work could be subsumed and hence the title. Regardless, after reading it for the fifth time, I keep getting more enjoyment and insights from it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Sinking Down in the African Swamp!
This is another masterly novel from Greene. The setting is some African country and one really gets the feeling of a swamp which the civilised people from England slowly, but surely, sinks down into. The main character of this novel seems to be the setting.

4-0 out of 5 stars Only the man of goodwill always carries in his heart this capacity for damnation
I just happend to read a few books about the psychology of British Catholics lately by wonderful authors like Evelyn Waugh and Graham Greene and found them absolutely disturbing in the most wonderful and thoughtful way.The Heart of the Matter is about deeply rooted sense of responsibility, pity, and despair, through a very complex character--Henry Scobie, "the man of goodwill", the onewith painful awareness of the predicament, "point me out the happy man and I will point you out either the extreme egotism or evil--or else an absolute ignorance".The spiritual background is familiar to the author and his other books, the Catholic sense of sin and absolution/damnation, and its powerlessness over the reality of human heart that is in turmoil, "The Church knows all the rules.But it doesn't know what goes on in a single human heart."

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Greene is an intimidatingly good writer. A lot of the truly classic authors carry with them a certain mystique, arriving with all their major plot details spoiled, a fancy edition with an introduction by someone else. Not that all such literary classics are great, or even good (see the next review) but this type of reputation more often than not indicates a strong accomplishment. Greene is an author of that stature, but I first encountered him as a more casual, as if less celebrated author, and to an extent that still comes through in the book editions I get, the lack of major literary discussion on him I come across, and even the name. "Greene", really? Is that the name of a literary giant?

Greene is the name of a literary giant. He's one of the best, and The Heart of the Matter is very much up to form. The pace works to deliver the core struggles of the character through the plot to the reader, at a certain point in analysis looking for something as a plot-element or a character-revealing element breaks down. I didn't enjoy this quite as much as The Comedians or the Human Factor, but it's an impressive work by any light.

Ultimately this book is an account of a man who commits adultery and then suicide, believing throughout that both actions damn his soul to an eternal hell. I'm quite a few degrees away from supporting a belief in adultery, suicide or damnation, yet I still found it a very moving story, one that benefits from rendering an alien form of thought as utterly credible to me. At times a good mainstream author can offer a more complex world-building experience than a lot of science fiction ones, here it brings home how strange and complex our fellow humans can be. There's always another narrative. This is something that all good writers have to tackle to some extent, but it emerges with particular force in Greene. In part this particular scenario probably benefits from Greene's own religious philosophy, but he's able to take the commitment very seriously. Scobie deals with his situation in some very destructive ways, but he retains his own viewpoint and set of justifications, and when his mistress claims he couldn't believe in damnation for his adultery, or his wife claims he couldn't have committed suicide, they're both wrong, and wrong in a manner that shows a crucial failure of imagination. Greene's accomplishment isn't merely that he represents Scobie as a highly sympathetic and moral man, but that he shows him to be as complex and self-regarding as any other, despite the intrinsic contradictions built into his final actions.

Though as I said, not entirely in his best. One defect with worldbuilding--using again a science fiction staple for this non-SF book, which seems consistently appropriate--here is not giving enough focus on the colonial scope. The book takes place in WWII British West Africa, and there's some very good scenes on the racial bias issues inherent to that situation, but the whole thing doesn't go nearly far enough for me, doesn't engage with the real ugliness and ambivalent passions promoted by this issue, in the way Orwell renders so well. Instead Scobie comes across as largely calm and unaffected by this issue, and there's a lot of untapped potential here. Still, this book is by my standards a masterpiece.

Reminded me of and was better than: Flaubert's Madame Bovary
Reminded me of and was worse than: Coetzee's Disgrace ... Read more

5. A Burnt-Out Case (Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin)
by Graham Greene
Paperback: 208 Pages (1992-04-07)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$8.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140185399
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Querry, a world-famous architect, is the victim of an attack of indifference, no longer finding meaning in art or pleasure in life. Arriving anonymously at a Congo leper village, he loses himself in work for the lepers. As he helps the lepers, so he approaches a self-cure. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (31)

5-0 out of 5 stars If we believe it, it must be true
Monsieur Querry never reveals his Christian name. Perhaps it's because he doesn't want to admit his Christianity. Perhaps he possesses it, but resists it. Perhaps...

Monsieur Querry is the central character in Graham Greene's A Burnt-Out Case. The novel examines the relationship between motivation and religious belief and contrasts this with the gulf between personal experience and its interpretation by others. A significant gap emerges, a gap that ascribes status on the one hand or infamy on the other, depending on who might witness and later interpret events.

Querry is an architect, and a very famous and successful one. When he arrives up the river at a leprosy hospital in Central Africa, however, no-one knows this. He is perhaps just another European running away from something and arriving ahead of a chase, perhaps to depart again just as quickly when the exigencies of daily life crowd out the self-serving romance of doing good. He meets Dr Colin who has devoted his life - and that of his wife! - to his fight against the disease. His hospital is in tatters/ He has little equipment and fewer resources, and his wife is dead. He works, however, every waking minute to serve the needs of his leper patients. There are cures. If only he had the means.

Querry, the Querrry, the famous architect, reinvents himself as a builder to realise a new hospital. So in this remote African backwater, a person who has slogged through life apparently to achieve little is partnered by a celebrity who comes with nothing, asks nothing, but can make things happen.

Deo Gratias is a leper. He has lost all of his digits from both hands and feet. He is totally stumped. He is also regularly in pain, driven mad by the nervous reaction to his condition. One night he goes missing. A community member goes off in search and finds him semi-submerged in a pool. Might he be in danger of drowning? He stays with Deo Gratias until daylight and thus save a limited life. Was this Christian charity? Was it something more basic? Were there any motives whatsoever? Or perhaps was it a miracle?

To judge on the latter, why not consult with the Fathers in the Mission, or the nuns in the convent? Why not try the opinion of a devout believer, someone like Rycker? He lives along the river with his wife, Marie. He is considerably older than her. His demands on life are within the confines of the box, and the box has the instructions printed on the outside. Marie's demands on life have yet to locate the box. Querry spends some time talking to him, and then to her, and then him, and then her again... Rycker likes a drink. So does Querry.

Arguably it is a miracle that the hospital gets built at all. Thus it's also a story, and Parkinson arrives in its pursuit. The Querry has been located and an apparently unscrupulous paparazzo arrives via the fastest available canoe to secure the scoop. He writes for the highest bidder and is well syndicated. He's a mercenary, an opportunist. Querry gives him the interview he requests. The resulting published piece, only a first instalment, is surprisingly supportive. Querry, meanwhile, has been supportive of Marie Rycker in a time of personal challenge.

For Dr Colin at the leproserie, a burnt-out case is a leper who has lost everything that can be lost before a cure takes hold. For more than a decade, perhaps, the leprosy hospital has been a place where neither the road not the river goes any further.

This Graham Greene contrasts the selfishness of professed religious conformity with the improvisation born of a humanism that dare not call itself Christian. From outside, the exploits of both approaches only mean something when they are interpreted and, in this respect, any beauty is firmly rooted in the combined prejudice and assumption of the beholder. And when those interpretations invent something that never happened, or translate the ordinary into something transcendental that was never intended, then it is by these falsely recorded and misunderstood consequences that we become known. A Burnt-Out Case is undoubtedly a masterpiece.

4-0 out of 5 stars Losing Yourself in the Colonies
Graham Greene wrote a number of first class novels like "The Comedians", "The Power and the Glory", "The Quiet American", and the comic "Our Man in Havana", to name a few.He wrote others, of course, which did not quite reach the same level.I would say that this novel, which takes place at a leprosarium in the (former) Belgian Congo is one of them.Still, Greene was probably incapable of writing a complete clunker.When you criticize a novel of his, you are basically saying `it's not as good as the others'.

A stranger arrives by river boat at a leprosy hospital run by Catholic fathers at the end of the line.We gradually learn that Querry, the stranger, used to be a world famous architect, but owing to a severe disillusionment with the human race and life, has retreated from all of it to bury himself in the African jungles to try to be "of use".He has no wish to maintain any connection with his past, which included a number of love affairs.The fathers don't know what to make of him.They decide that he is just as much a burnt-out case as the lepers whose disease has been cured, but who are so disabled that they cannot rejoin society.An atheistic secular doctor understands Querry best, one of the fathers begins to believe in miracles that Querry never performed.The architect is on the run from just such people.A local colonial settler, who is running a palm oil plantation, noses out Querry's identity and presses his obnoxious views and demeanor on the luckless refugee.The settler has married a much younger woman most unsuccessfully.A certain situation builds up, even while Querry is coming back to life.There is the inevitable, but ironic, denouement.Greene's propensity for including lots of Catholic philosophy seems a bit over the top in this slight novel because philosophy in a novel must enhance, but not overwhelm, the plot.If you are a big Greene fan, of course you should read this one.It's entertaining in a painful sort of way, but with a smaller palette of colors than usual.

5-0 out of 5 stars Greene knows Humanity
A terrific novel about a man who wants to drop out of a celebrated life, and chooses the most remote place he can think of for his retreat.Greene writes human nature so well, and there are so many passages to highlight and quote that sum up truths about human nature as Greene is so keenly able to capture.A little bit "Lord Jim", a little bit "Heart of Darkness", but with a sensibility more akin to the modern age.Take your time in reading and savor the insights!

4-0 out of 5 stars One comes to an end
In "A Burnt-Out Case" the protagonist, M. Querry, suffers from a discomfort that today would probably be characterized as depression. To alleviate his discomfort he journeys to the farthest part of the earth hoping for a place where he'd be unknown. He lands at a leproserie in Congo that is partially supported by a Catholic mission telling the priests he doesn't plan to return to Europe where he has acquired fame for his architect skills. It's his misfortune that at 40 he discovers he doesn't love his work, has never loved any of the women he has known and that he only loved the idea of loving and not the object. At the leproserie he offers to help Dr. Colin with plans to build a hospital that's already in the works. Regrettably, the world doesn't let Querry be. This is Greene's only novel in which instead of the protagonist suffering from excessive pity, having an exaggerated sense of responsibility toward others or wondering whether one's a good priest, he has lost meaning in his life. Other characters of note are Rycker and his dim-witted wife, Marie. Rycker runs an oil factory and is a devout Catholic. He loves to talk about Catholicism and presupposes everyone is a believer even when Querry repeatedly says he isn't. His wife Marie is so superficial it could have only been done as convenience. The Superior, a senior priest, is in charge of the leproserie and plays a conciliatory role in arguments between other priests about religion. Parkinson is a British journalist who's writing false articles about Querry's religious beliefs and his reasons for leaving Europe. When Querry discloses his reasons to Parkinson, he ignores them because they appear polemical for his newspaper audience. Dr. Colin is a lapsed Catholic who has worked at the leproserie for many years and whose wife is buried in the backyard of the leproserie. His dream is to import machines to Congo able to detect risk of infection of leprosy in patients. Just before the end the reader notices that Querry has started to find meaning in his life by being useful to others.

4-0 out of 5 stars Worthwhile
Querry, a world-famous architect of churches, is burned out by his professional success, contemptuous of his clients, and guilty about the suicide of his mistress. Needing time and a place to recover, Querry, through sheer chance, travels to what he deems the end of the road, a leprosery in remote Africa. There, he hopes to live in obscurity, without connection to his peers, and to die. But, in the leprosery, Querry develops relationships with a doctor and patient, oversees a few basic construction projects, and gradually, to his surprise, finds happiness and contentment. Unfortunately, a priest at the leprosery, a fanatical lay Catholic in a nearby village, and a slimy journalist--each for his own reasons--insists on interpreting Querry's service to the leprosery as self-sacrificial Christian devotion. In many respects, the drama in A BURNT-OUT CASE explores the clash between the exhausted Querry and those who attribute his actions to Christian generosity.

At his best, Greene writes about ordinary men whose lives unexpectedly acquire a profound moral dimension or political significance. Here, Greene's prototypical character is the venal whiskey priest in THE POWER AND THE GLORY, who acts heroically and self-sacrificially to bring Mass to the common people of Mexico, even though he has profound doubts about his Catholic faith.

In ABOC, Greene modifies this template. Instead of having an ethical crisis emerge and forcing Querry to make a choice, Green starts ABOC after Querry has made his choice--that is, he will withhold himself from his fame and life. Essentially, the book is about the refusal of others to accept that there is no moral dimension in his actions. As usual with Green, this leads to an ironic and deadly conclusion.

ABOC is not my favorite Greene novel. Largely, this is due to his treatment of ethical heroism, which exists in ABOC as a negative. This makes Querry and his adversaries into small characters, not admirable but flawed men like the whiskey priest, and restricts the scope of the book.

Furthermore, Greene uses matters of faith to explain Querry's decision to narrow his life. To simplify, Greene says that Querry, a believer, loses his faith and thereby loses the engine that makes his great architecture possible. But to this reader, this explanation for Querry's burnout seemed overly conceptualized. While a character, Dr. Colin, ultimately gives a secular explanation for Querry's creative and personal exhaustion, Greene, for the most part, presents Querry's difficulties as a religious crisis. For non-believer me, this made the character Querry remote, abstract, and never quite persuasive.

Nonetheless, I would encourage all Graham Greene fans to read A BURNT-OUT CASE. As usual, it features Green's deft knack for sketching, in just a phrase or two, amazing parallels in dissimilar characters. Further, the novel does operate on an ironically ethical level, creating a story with depth, delusion, and despair. Not his best but well worthwhile.
... Read more

6. Complete Short Stories (Penguin Classics)
by Graham Greene
Paperback: 624 Pages (2005-01-25)
list price: US$18.00 -- used & new: US$10.37
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0143039105
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Affairs, obsessions, ardors, fantasy, myth, legend and dream, fear, pity, and violence—this magnificent collection of stories illuminates all corners of the human experience.

Previously published in two volumes—Collected Short Stories and The Last Word and Other Stories—these forty-nine stories reveal Graham Greene in a range of contrasting moods, sometimes cynical and witty, sometimes searching and philosophical. Each one confirms V. S. Pritchett’s statement that Greene is "a master of storytelling." ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Truest View Of The Human Experience
When it comes to short stories with true grace into the human spirit, I can think of only a few greats, William Faulkner, Raymond Carver, John Cheever, Andre Dubus, D.H. Lawrence, and Graham Greene (there are many short story writers who are superb in their field of telling stories, Alice Munro, Jhumpa Lahri, T.C. Boyle, and the such, but they're focuses are limited, and rarely concern the endeavor of the human spirit--Alice Munro definitely has her moments).Greene's work surpasses much of what is available today, there is an immediacy even to his most intimate stories.Two Gentle People for example, a story of two people far in their prime in life, who meet sitting on a park bench, and watching a wounded bird, start a conversation.This conversation leads to dinner. But what can they really do? They are both married.They both love the people they're married to.It is a tragedy and a love story, it is a friendship, and truly one of the purest writings out there.The Destructors, made even more famous for it's use in Donnie Darko, as the scapegoat for parents to get a teacher fired, and get a book banned.

The Destructors is a story far greater than it's story.It is a story about construction as much as it is about destruction.The creation of chaos.It is something altogether beautiful and horrifying, supple and bitter, a story that doesn't leave your mind even after you've left it.His stories illuminates the human experience.

I highly recommend this book.I still remember the day I ordered it and the day I received it, right after Christmas, 4 years previously, infatuated after reading Power and Glory, The End of the Affair, and The Quiet American, I wanted more, and I got more, a lot more.These collected stories are an important pieceo f the body of his work, they are some of the best stories I have read.I hope you too can enjoy them.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great set of short stories
If you have long or short flights, take this book along. You will be amused, gratified, humored and kept awake by the meanderings of Graham Greene.

4-0 out of 5 stars Take an insightful trip to Graham Greene land in this collection of his 49 excellent short stories
Graham Greene is one of the twentieth century's greatest English novelists, essayist and short story authors. Greene is famous for such classic novels as "The Power and the Glory"; "Our Man in Havana"; "The Third Man"; "The End of the Affair"; "The Comedians" and several other stellar works of his genius. Greene (1904-1991) is not as well known for his superb short stories penned over a long literary career. Though a long ago English major in college we were never asked to read one of his amazingly perceptive short stories which I consider a major omission!
The Penguin Edition contains all 49 of his stories in its interest filled 600 pages. Greene had an ability to write about the human drama in all its diversity. His work is informed by the Roman Catholic belief and morality which he embraced.
Among such gems in this collection are:
The Destructors-boys in a suburban gang:
The News in English-an unforgettable tale about an English spy on German radio during World War II
Dear Dr. Falkenhelm- a darkly humorous tale about a Canadian Father Christmas and the loss of childhood illusion.
Cheap in August-A love story set in a tropical clime in which an elderly gent hooks up with a bored middle age woman.
Under the Garden-a surreal story about strange beings who live under the garden in an apocalyptic vision of things to come.
May We Borrow Your Husband?-sexual shenanigans with the improbably named female character "Poopy"
An Appointment with the General-A reporter interviews a Latin American rebel leader.
Graham Greene is a superb stylist of the English Language. His stories are often ironic, witty, sad and penetrative of the human heart's emotional gamut.If you only know Greene through his novels or films of his works then you should luxuriate your mind in these wonderful stories
from the fertile pen of a brilliant English author!

4-0 out of 5 stars They Span Most of the Century, the Globe, and the Genres
Graham Greene's long life and prolific writing career nearly spanned the twentieth century.Unusually enough, the British author's work was both greatly honored, and greatly popular.He wrote "The Power and the Glory," "The End of the Affair," and "Our Man in Havana," among other noteworthy novels; he also published two short story collections.These stories are all here, dated, at least, from 1929 through 1963.They cover many genres: fantasy, mystery, spy, crime, romance, and are set in many places; England, the Continent of Europe, the Caribbean, Africa, Latin America.They also provide an unusually close view of the work of their prominent, polished writer.

The best known and once most notorious of them is probably "May We Borrow Your Husband," set on the off-season French Riviera.It's narrated in the first person by a man who sounds a lot like its author grown older, and concerns a pair of predatory English interior decorators who set out to seduce a confused, handsome young English bridegroom on his honeymoon.The narrator, who is fond of the young bride, watches the proceedings, feeling himself unable to intervene.

Another well-known story is "Cheaper in August," that chronicles the odd business of an August Caribbean affair between a middle-aged Englishwoman, married to an American academic, and a much older, not particularly attractive American remittance man."Across the Bridge" is a strong story of an English financier fugitive, trapped in Mexico; it's also narrated by a figure much like its author."Under the Garden,"an outstanding, rare fantasy tale, written fairly early in Greene's career, gives us many hints of the work that's to come."The News in English" is a powerful World War II spy tale."The Destructors" is a tough early story about the crowning achievement of an English gang of teenagers.

If you would like an introduction to the work of Graham Greene, or you already love the longer works of this estimable writer, you'll find these stories worthwhile reading.

5-0 out of 5 stars Deep Writer
I consider this writer as a mix between Chekov and Gorki, his knowledge of the human soul and his extraordinary way to describe it, makes him one of the most important writers of the 20th century ... Read more

7. Monsignor Quixote (Penguin Classics)
by Graham Greene
Paperback: 224 Pages (2008-09-30)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$8.64
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0143105523
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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A morally complex and mature work from a modern master

IN THIS later novel by Graham Greene—featuring a new introduction—the author continues to explore moral and theological dilemmas through psychologically astute character studies and exciting drama on an international stage. The title character of Monsignor Quixote is a village priest, elevated to the rank of monsignor through a clerical error, who travels to Madrid accompanied by his best friend, Sancho, the Communist ex-mayor of the village, in Greene’s lighthearted variation on Cervantes. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (19)

5-0 out of 5 stars Graham Greene's "Monsignor Quixote"
Some consider this GG's last Catholic novel. This is irrelevant. It is a story of brotherly love and faith vs.reality. Father Quixote, a descendant of Cervantes's confused hero, lives in El Toboso, far from La Mancha. He repairs the car of a visiting Italian priest, oiling and greasing his hands to save the Italian from the embarrassment of simply having run out of gas. Grateful, back in Rome, the Italian convinces the Pope to make Quixote a Monsignor. But a Monsignor needs purple sox, so off go Quixote and his friend Sancho, the Communist ex-mayor of El Taboso in Quixote's 20-year-old decrepit car, Rosinante,. Along the route, the friends stop often to debate Christ vs. Marx and drink numerous bottles off Madigan wine. But Quixote hides, then blesses a small-time robber, attracting the attention of the Guardia Civil. The liason between the Catholic Church and the computerized Gardia permeates much of the novel. Once in Madrid, Sancho takes Quixote to a pornographic movie. Quixote laughs at the amorous scenes, but later wonders if he understands reality. Eventually arrested, Quixote is returned to El Toboso, where he is disliked by his successor, Father Herrera, the bishop, and the archbishop. Rescued by Sancho, the friends set out to find some place of refuge in post-Franco Spain. They go to Galicia and a Trappist Monastery. In a nearby village a festival is being held, and a bunch of nouveau riche Mexicans vie for the honor of carrying Our Lady. But Quixote is incensed that the statue is covered with paper, onto which high-peseta notes, dollar bills, etc. have been pinned. He rips off the paper, tossing the money into the crowd. Quixote is now guilty of another crime, Disrupting a Procession. The Guardia shows up and shoots Quixote, who, now delusional, blesses Sancho. After the death of his beloved friend, Sancho crosses the Duoro River into Portugal.

4-0 out of 5 stars delightful small latter work of Greene's
A delightful meditation on friendship, as two unlikely heros traverse Spain to purchase Monsignor socks for a colorless priest. His companion is the Communist former Mayor of their small Spanish town, and their conversations and roadside picnics are comments on a Spain that was lost under Franco, impossible to restore under communists, but perhaps recoverable with the Catholic Church militant and incarnate. The story arc follows that of Don Quixote, with Rocinanante as a mercurial but faithful motor car.This is a light, but deep funny story, an "entertainment" yes, but also deeply touching the divine spark of humanity.

4-0 out of 5 stars Faith and Doubt
This is one of Greene's stories about faith.Monsignor Quixote is a priest in a small Spanish village, promoted to monsignor after a visit by a traveling bishop.The bishop also sends Quixote out from his small village, on a journey paralleling that of his namesake.Quixote is accompanied by the village's communist ex-mayor, known as Sancho.And of course, they travel in Quixote's car, Rocinante.

Much of the story is a dialogue between Quixote and Sancho, exploring on one side Quixote's faith in catholicism and on the other Sancho's in communism.Greene himself had converted to catholicism and later become interested in communism, but may have been disillusioned by both by the time of this book (1982).The dialogue between Quixote and Sancho is Green's own dialogue with himself about faith.What Quixote gets, and what sets him, in quixotic-fashion, against the catholic officials, is that faith destroys itself when it becomes certainty.Certainty is mechanical, deterministic, without challenge.Faith is constantly challenged, constantly tempted, requiring active belief to maintain.As he says, "How can I pray to resist evil when I am not even tempted?There is no virtue in such a prayer."

Quixote tries to convey his insight to Sancho as their conversation and their adventures unfold.Sancho of course responds that a communist must act; he can never remain suspended between belief and doubt.You must act with certainty, regardless of doubts.In the end Sancho and Quixote have found their common ground -- Quixote reads the Communist Manifesto and finds it surprisingly conformable in some ways to his faith, and Sancho recalls his catholic youth, and even, at the end of the story, accepts a kind of communion from Quixote, maybe a communion in ideals.

Quixote's journey ends in an ambiguous self-destruction, similar to Cervantes' Quixote.He appears, to the catholic officials, to have lost his mind, but, to himself, he is practicing the ideals of Christianity, what he has learned by reading and reflecting on his books, just as Cervantes' Quixote read and reflected on books of chivalry.

5-0 out of 5 stars Delightful Book
This is my first Greene book and I liked it so much I'm now going to read all of his works.This delightful tale tells of the travels of a newly minted Monsignor Quixote and his Sancho Panza, the Communist former mayor of a small town.Through their wanderings the pair discuss important life and faith issues.I agree with another reviewer's observation that the book seems to be an argument between Greene and himself.Not only am I going to read more Greene, but I have just bought Cervantes' Don Quixote, which I had never read.This is a highly recommended book.

5-0 out of 5 stars An Entertaining and Thoughtful Work in the Quixote Tradition
Although I'm a big fan of almost all Greene's work, this is definitely one of his more accessible pieces.The tone is light and easy to read (and the book is not that long), even as it maintains thoughtful discussions throughout.It mirrors Don Quixote's absurdist tone, although it remains a distinctly Greene work with its intensely personal and conflicted feelings on Catholicism.A definite must for Greene fans, highly recommended for Quixote fans, and a good read for anyone wanting a quick, entertaining, yet thoughtful read. ... Read more

8. Orient Express (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)
by Graham Greene
Paperback: 224 Pages (2004-08-31)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$3.89
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0142437913
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (10)

4-0 out of 5 stars Read It!
No, this is not the Agatha Christie mystery :). It's an absorbing semi-political thriller by Graham Greene, with great characters and a compelling plot. Read it!

4-0 out of 5 stars Packed like lemmings into shiny metal boxes
Although "Orient Express" (originally published as "Stamboul Train") anticipates the moral and social issues, as well as the concern with faith and faithfulness, apparent in Greene's later work, this early novel is more of a crowd-pleaser--intentionally so, since the author needed the money. But it's one of the greater of Greene's lesser novels; and not the least of his achievements is to take stock characters and immerse them in unusual situations.

Most of the train's passengers are heading East for career opportunities--mercantile dealing, travel writing, theatrical performance, muckraking journalism, and even inciting a revolution. Safely aboard the train, however, they form temporary alliances and shrug off back-stabbing schemers, while the real worldly perils lie in wait off the train, in the towns and the countryside, in the station stops, where the passengers are threatened by thieves and killers, merciless soldiers and dark prisons, and inhabitants who can't speak their language. ("She was afraid at being left alone when the train was in a station," reflects one character moments before her inadvertent arrest by people she can't understand.)

As is usual in Greene's fiction, each of the "good" characters faces a test that, in this novel, approaches martyrdom: Will Myatt risk life and limb to rescue Coral? Will Coral abandon Dr. Czinner in his hour of need? Other characters--the gruff reporter Mabel Warren, the conflicted frontier guard Ninitch, the beautiful socialite Janet Pardoe, the absurd writer Q. C. Savory--hobble through life without ever confronting their own morally ambivalent prejudices and desires. Only Josef Grunlich, the murdering burglar, seems to be beyond redemption.

By the end of the trip, those temporary alliances are reformed and sealed anew. Each character of this morality play ends up at a terminus preordained by the choices made or the circumstances faced. Even the killer, "brooding on the injustice of it all," meets his comeuppance--although not in the manner traditional to a murder story. In many ways, the "injustice" that determines the fates of these disparate travelers anticipates the fatalism of the noir-like novels Greene published later in the decade, particularly "Brighton Rock" and the irrational evil of its anti-hero Pinkie.

2-0 out of 5 stars bland and pointless
The story of a bunch of people taking the Orient Express to Istanbul. One of them is a rich Jew and he has an affair with a poor dancer on the train, and almost falls in love with her.
Greene writes well enough to carry you along, but I was let down by the blah way in which the story ended. It felt like going along with someone who promises to take you to an interesting bar, only to discover that the bar is smelly and full of old drunks. Perhaps that is a requirement of making a story 'realistic' and thus literary, as opposed to a schmaltzy, feel-good Hollywood finish... but the the ending, in which the Jew goes for the beautiful, empty, vacuous girl and forgets all about the little dancer with nothing more than a slight shrug made me want to shrug off this story as well.

5-0 out of 5 stars Orient Express is an exciting Hitchcock like journey from Ostend to Istanbul
Graham Greene the eminent British novelist published this minor, suspensful and entertaining work in 1932. In Great Britain the novel is entitled "Stamboul Train". The novel is short but has a murder and interesting characters to keep your attention. The characters are well sketched and the novel has deeper depth than the typical spy thriller.
Among the players are:
Coral Musker-a beautiful but poor chorus girl traveling from England to appear in a musical in Istanbul. She falls in love on the train and becomes involved in the pursuit of a Yugolslavian Communist leader Dr.
Czinner. Coral is the most human andsympathetic character in the whole business. She is touching, pathetic and deserving of a better fate than the one she receives.
Carelton Myatt is a young businessman from London. He is on the way to Turkey to cement a business deal. He is also a womanizer who initiates Coral into sex. Later he sets his cap for Janet Pardoe a half-Jewish niece of Mr. Steiner a wealthy businessman. Myatt is a despicable character who seeks his own ego satisfactions not trifling with such things as true love. As the novel ends his future looks bright but we the readers do not like him. Greene chose to make him Jewish opening himself up for charges of Antisemetic caricatures. Much of British society in the 1930s was adverse to persons of the Jewish faith. The novel was written shortly before Hitler became German Chancellor. It should be stated that Greene served bravely in World War II as a spy for the British Government. I do not think he was overtly antisemetic.
Mabel Warren is a lesbian and obnoxious journalist who is eager to interview Czinner and Savery who is a popular novelist. She travels with Janet Pardoe but when dumped sets her sights on Coral.
Josef Grunlich is a robber and murderer who flees Vienna escaping to Constantinople. Grunlich is a despicable human being.
Greene manages to interwine the lives of all these people into an exciting narrative. This is a minor work but is written in the author's cool style with colorful use of metaphor and a good use of mirror imagery. Penguin has reissued this novel in a beautiful edition for the Greene 100th year birthday celebration which was held in 2004. Christopher Hitchns the acerbic critic has a fine introduction to the novel included in the Penguin edition. This book is a good introduction to Graham Greene one of our greatest modern novelist.

4-0 out of 5 stars Time Capsule of a lost era
Orient Express is a time capsule.It was written in the early 1930s and, as such, captures the world of the inter-war period in continental Europe.The book's strengths and weaknesses spring from this perspective.The strength are that Greene shows us a world that was rather bleak and yet vibrant.The downside is that anti-Semitism and class-based prejudices are evident both in the character's and in Greene's attitudes. However, as a time capsule of a lost era, this book is worth reading. ... Read more

9. Brighton Rock (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)
by Graham Greene
Paperback: 288 Pages (2004-09-28)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$7.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0142437972
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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With a new introduction by J.M. Coetzee

A gang war is raging through the dark underworld of Brighton. Pinkie, malign and ruthless, has killed a man. Believing he can escape retribution, he is unprepared for the courageous Ida Arnold, who is determined to avenge a death. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (47)

4-0 out of 5 stars You won't understand this without reading the book
This is such an interesting book. I can't say that the characters are fully fleshed out or believable. The plot is sketchy and hard to make out, although clear in outline. (Another reviewer - JR Pinto -- refers to a prequel, which makes a bit more sense out of it all.) But "the Boy" and his bride, Rose, are a pair to be reckoned with - a Bonnie and Clyde, as it turns out, for Rose is complicit in her own way in the evil of the Boy. At first Rose seems like a pushover for the Boy's manipulations, but she has her own designs, and based on the very same motives as his. As Greene speaks on the Boy's behalf: "He looked with horror round the room: nobody could say he hadn't done right to get away from this, to commit any crime ... when the man [Rose's father] opened his mouth he heard his father speaking; that figure in the corner was his mother .... ...[he] felt the faintest twinge of pity for goodness [Rose, he thinks] which couldn't murder to escape." But Rose has her own means of escape. Yet she still plays the role of the one in need of rescue (albeit from her "escape"!) by Ida (the female-amateur-detective, who is Christ-like in her ability to do anything without sin) and remains vulnerable to the most depressing "horror" anticipated at the very end of the book (which requires alert reading to be able to appreciate) - a plot flourish that Greene could only have included out of sheer literary sadism. What is most interesting to me about this book is the way good and evil co-exist with sheer fatalism. I get no sense at all of anybody's having free will in this book's universe; yet they suffer or prosper just as if it were a perfectly moral universe. Well, that's not quite it either. There are a great many exculpatory hints dropped on the Boy's behalf, yet they do not for a moment stand in the way of his utter damnation. Maybe this is some esoteric theology at work. At any rate, the book is ... excuse my using the word again ... an interesting read.

4-0 out of 5 stars Man! Greene must have been obsessed with writing books!
This is a fine book from Greene. His characters are really impressive. It's amazing to read Greenes' books, they are quite diverse. Didn't he do anything else than write books his whole life?

4-0 out of 5 stars Interesting.Just......Interesting
This was an okay novel, but I suspect I am missing a lot, not being particularly attuned to symbolism or Catholic eschatology.So, I had to read it as just a crime story although the introduction to the book by J.M. Coetzee did shed some necessary light on the book's theme.I found the book interesting for its view of life in the English beach town of Brighton and for some of the characters.Also, it goes without saying, Greene is a master wordsmith. But I also found parts of the book somewhat contrived, particularly Ida's obsession with catching Pinkie to avenge the murder of a corrupt newspaperman she met brieflyat the book's opening.But, maybe what I think is contrived is the ethereal stuff I mention at the beginning of this review.This is only the second work of Greene's I've read and I still have his more major books ahead of me.Some say this was not his best.I hope that's the case. It's a good story, but not a page turner.

4-0 out of 5 stars Opposites Conflict
"Hale knew they meant to murder him before he had been in Brighton three hours."

Who would not be intrigued to read more of a novel with a first line like that? It's a tale of two opposite natures in conflict. There is Pinkie, the young thug, a Catholic fatalist seeking to retain a hold on his gang as the stronger party of Colleoni sweeps up the territory. But it is not Colleoni the boy has to fear most. His real opposition is Ida Arnold, a pragmatic woman who is not religious but is devout about what is right and what is wrong.

Ida's efforts to win justice for Hale and to save Rose, a naïve waitress Pinkie has married to keep her from giving evidence in the case, are a major element of the plot. Ida proves herself a force to be reckoned with and the combined strength of the mob is unable to deter her from her goals.

As Greene himself said later, Pinkie is less a real gangster than a juvenile who has refused to grow up and blames his troubles on others.

Though one of his earliest, Brighton Rock is rated among Greene's finest novels. He wrote the script for a 1947 film adaptation that is a noir classic. A remake, with the brilliant Helen Mirren as Ida, is currently in production.

3-0 out of 5 stars Might be past it's shelf life
Though it's an interesting look at people living on the fringe of interwar Britain, it's not that interesting.I happen to be a big fan of 'The Third Man' and other Greene writings, but this one just seems so dated.One of the problems of reading a book like this is that so many have been written in this style, and so many movies in this style that it looses the impact it had when originally published.

What I did find especially difficult to deal with is how the book seems to slow down as it gets to the end and becomes more and more religious and less plausible.Greene practically hits you on the head with his 'Romans' and is like a ferret (to use his own words) with the idea of mortal sin.

"Pinkie" is not just a bad catholic, he's a bad person.He has no qualms at murder or mayhem and only fears for himself.He is the perfect example of a 'sociopath'.Now this was a big deal at the time (when Cagney was making movies with Pat O'Brien), because there was no redeeming quality in his character; unlike 'Phil Raven' from "This Gun for Hire" (another Greene movie) who was good to cats and children.He's the perfect match to Richard Widmark's 'Tommy Udo' who in "Kiss of Death" shoves an old lady in a wheelchair down a flight of stairs.

The weakest part of the story is the end.Though Greene may have made the end to match the beginning which itself is murky.We meet Pinkie right after he's taken over the gang after the death of 'Kite'.But we never get the story of how Kite died.Did Pinkie have something to do with it, we are never told and there aren't any hints.At the end, Pinkie dies at the hands of a constable by a vial of 'Vitriol'.But it's never made plain how the vial exploded.Did the constable shoot him? I didn't know they carried guns in interwar Britain.

Good as an historical document but not THE great novel of his career.

Zeb Kantrowitz ... Read more

10. The Quiet American (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)
by Graham Greene
Paperback: 208 Pages (2004-08-31)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$7.98
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Asin: 0143039024
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Into the intrigue and violence of Indo-China comes Pyle, a young idealistic American sent to promote democracy through a mysterious 'Third Force'. As his naive optimism starts to cause bloodshed, his friend Fowler finds it hard to stand and watch. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (114)

4-0 out of 5 stars Great when an author arrives before the fact!
It's great when an authour arrives before the fact. This novel problematizes Western involvement with Indochina affairs, more specific American military involvement in Vietnam. This problem was to be a key issue for left wing people more than a decade later from when Greene wrote his book. In that respect "The Quiet American" is similar to Hanif Kureishis "The Black Album" which problematizes British Muslim radicalization in 1995, a decade before the 7 July 2005 London bombings. As said in the start, it's great when an authour arrives before the fact, because after the fact it's crowded with all the idiots!

4-0 out of 5 stars Go Home Young Man
Set in French colonial Vietnam in the 1950s on the eve of the French overthrow, the book portrays the evolution of a love triangle: a jaded, cynical, opium addict British journalist (Thomas Fowler), the soft-spoken, intellectual, and idealistic quiet American (Alden Pyle), and a young Vietnamese girl (Phoung). Fowler and Phoung are lovers but Pyle steals the girl away from Fowler but winds up dead in the river. Fowler is suspected of the murder. He recalls memories of Pyle, narrating past events involving himself, Pyle, and Phoung. Phoung is highly desired by Fowler even though he takes her for granted whereas Pyle views her as a delicate flower to be protected. But the character of Phoung is weakly developed in the book and she comes around as an opportunist.

Running parallel to the plot are political themes: communism, colonianism, and American foreign policies in the region. The novel touches on the horrors of war in a third world country: the class distinctions of colonianism, opium addiction, brothels, death, and destruction.

It is clear throughout the book that Fowler dislikes Pyle and makes sweeping statements like, "The only quiet American is a dead American." There are numerous instances where Fowler makes disparaging statements about Americans in a third world country so that the novel became widely known for itsanti-American sentiment.

The book is good and skillfully written, as befits a work by a famous author like Greene. I highly recommend this book.

1-0 out of 5 stars QuietAmerican
This product arrived in great condition unfortunately the narrator lacks expression when reading.I was disappointed in this and turned it off.How do you describe the character Phuong as a clink of a tea cup or as a phoenix without changing the tone and expressiveness of your voice.

I doubt if I will listen to any more of it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Taking a Stand
I've become a Graham Greene fan.Never disappointing, always engaging and thought-provoking.Like The Power and the Glory and Our Man in Havana, and others, The Quiet American places a very personal story within a momentous historical setting, finding the questions and the personal struggles the historical setting poses for the lives of ordinary people.

The Quiet American raises questions about the inevitability of taking a stand.There is no such thing as an observer.Sooner or later, merely observing is taking a stand, through knowledge and inaction.

It also recalls all the questions about western involvement in the cultures and politics of other countries.Fowler and Pyle, the British and American figures in the book, take different approaches.Fowler is the observer, Pyle the committer.They fall in love with the same woman, with Fowler seeking comfort and pleasure to pass the days while Pyle promises to marry the woman.Fowler professes disinterest in taking sides in the complicated politics of French-occupied Viet Nam.Pyle takes sides.Pyle's actions ultimately compel Fowler to make a choice.

There is certainly an eerie feeling to the book.Although written in 1955 about the French involvement in Viet Nam, it mirrors American involvement in the 60s and 70s.What we learned so much later was apparent to Greene in 1955.Fowler and others move among the native population with the air of being in charge of something, while the divided population carries on their struggles and their resistance invisibly to the westerners, until it's too late for them to do anything about it.The war is recognizably unwinnable for the French, as Fowler remarks and as everyone seems to know, except Pyle and his Harvard-inspired fantasy of a "third force" beyond colonialism and Communism.But the war continues on its own momentum.Viet Nam is itself the "third force" -- it reasserts itself inevitably, no matter what the French do to subdue it, just as it did no matter what we did later.

5-0 out of 5 stars Engaging, searing introspection of war and innocence
This novel easily ranks as one of the best I have ever read.The setting is Vietnam during the French campaign of the 1950's and the novel uses the war as the backdrop for the classic lovers' triangle plot.Greene weaves an engaging narrative with searing truths about love, war, and the loss of innocence that accompany them.His protagonist, through which we witness the events in the novel, is exceptionally well-developed, and his cynical view of life and love are prophetic in their analysis of the situation in Vietnam.

The book is concise and perhaps more memorable for it.Greene's easy style reminds one of Hemingway, and his protagonist is also a journalist.The novel wastes few words with every paragraph advancing the plot or the development of the small cast of characters.The key message of the book is that one must eventually take sides, in love and in war.It is impossible to remain a neutral player as the protagonist learns to his chagrin. ... Read more

11. The Life of Graham Greene: Volume I: 1904-1939
by Norman Sherry
Paperback: 816 Pages (2004-04)
list price: US$20.00 -- used & new: US$4.62
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0142004200
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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The first volume of the authorized biography of Graham Greene, reconstructs the first 35 years of Greene's life. The author has also written biographies of Joseph Conrad, Jane Austen and Charlotte and Emily Bronte. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

3-0 out of 5 stars Through a Dark Life Obscured
Here is a case where an official biographer's love of his highly private subject and his desire to make more of his subject than is warranted overrides the editor's need to ensure a biography is interesting, revealing, and readable.This book is about 300 or 400 pages too long.Covering a mere 35 years of Greene's life in over 720 pages of text works out to about 20 pages for each year of his life, and Greene did little of interest for the first 20 years of his life. Almost as bad, Sherry spends too much time going through each book and regurgitates large sections of Greene's works throughout.Anyone who has read the works will be bored.This is especially true when discussing Greene's travels in Liberia and Mexico.Anyone who has read Greene's two travel books will find over 100 pages of this biography mostly a chore, since Sherry spends so much time quoting the travel books.Sherry does clearly discuss how Greene tried to be private during the creation of this biogrpaphy, not revealing what he didn't want to say and forcing Sherry to try to find the real Greene.Sherry is only moderately successful, but it doesn't appear as if he tried too hard.First, Sherry relies far too heavily on Greene's two autobiographical books--even though Sherry constantly points out the serious mistakes and evasions in each.Second, he acknowledges that Greene's diaries have certain pages missing at most interesting times, but then doesn't discuss if he ever even asked Greene to provide the answers to the missing pages. It appears Sherry chose not to dig too deeply for fear of offending Greene or his close circle of equally protective family and friends, who, given Greene's reticence, are critically necessary sources of information. Sherry's lack of objectivity and a desire not to offend seems most in evidence when Sherry spends so little time discussing what a horrible father and husband Greene was, attempting throughout to show that the constantly philandering and absent Greene still somehow truly loved his suffering wife and neglected children. One example of the frustration of this biography: Sherry discusses Greene's sex drive at some length, including his adulterous behavior, with and without prostitutes; however, Sherry doesn't even pinpoint the time, date, place, or person with whom Greene lost his virginity, and the reader had to wait until page 374, the year 1927, before Sherry gives some short shrift to the 23-year-old "young and highly-sexed Greene".

4-0 out of 5 stars Lest Ye Be Judged
Sherry has certainly done a thorough job of "tracking" Greene, with the result that one gets a rather full picture of this writer. It's easy to throw around words like "great" and so on when talking about Greene, especially if you like him, but in the end I see him as a very entertaining writer who never achieved greatness. (Compare him to Joyce or Tolstoy and you'll see what I mean.) Sherry is a bit of a busy-body and gets into some strange "politically correct" judgments, criticizing Greene for not being properly appreciative of the 'natives' about whom he said many condescending, but possibly accurate things. Sherry seems not to be able to understand why Greene couldn't say nice things about everybody in the same way opportunistic journalists seem able to manage. Well, I don't have the answer to that, except to say that Greene's generation (see Waugh and Orwell) didn't have much patience for propaganda.

5-0 out of 5 stars getting to know graham greene
Norman Sherry's thoughtful biography perfectly captures the early years ofan honest,lonely,sensitive Englishman with privileged opportunities whobecomes a successful novelist. As Sherry pointed out Greene's keen power ofobservation produced a cynical and realistic view of life. Burdened byanxieties but guided by his Catholic faith Greene was attracted to the epicstruggles of flawed underdogs trying to cope with their transitory lives.Sherry ties all this together neatly. Its a book for leisurely reading. Youwill never regret its purchase.

5-0 out of 5 stars All I ever wanted to know about GG but did not know to ask.
This is an inspiring, detailed look at a fascinating writer, by an equallyfascinating writer.The images of Norman Sherry traipsing through thejungles and Mexico, etc., give one pause and confidence.If his work onConrad is as detailed and careful, I would suspect he could give thecomposition of bilge water in the hold of each ship for each trip for eachbook.If one ever wondered about writers and sources and inspiration andbiography and art, start with volume I.You could have no finerintroduction. ... Read more

12. Stamboul Train: An Entertainment
by Graham Greene
Paperback: 224 Pages (1983-08-25)
list price: US$4.95
Isbn: 0140018980
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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A gripping spy thriller that unfolds aboard the majestic Orient Express as it crosses Europe from Ostend to Constantinople.Weaving a web of subterfuge, murder and politics along the way, the novel focuses upon the disturbing relationship between Myatt, the pragmatic Jew, and naive chorus girl Coral Musker as they engage in a desperate, angst-ridden pas-de-deux before a chilling turn of events spells an end to an unlikely interlude.Exploring the many shades of despair and hope, innocence and duplicity, the book offers a poignant testimony to Greene's extraordinary powers of insight into the human condition. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Well done
My experience of this book is the audiobook on CD.

The audiobook is well done. The narration is clearly spoken. The tracks are self-contained, so each is a little story, with completed sentences. The tracks are but a few minutes each, which is a comfortable length.

The story itself intrigues the listener, and makes us eager for more. This master author gives us characters with distinct personalities and motives.

5-0 out of 5 stars A tense plot among sharply drawn characters
In this novel, Graham Greene tells the story of seven main characters who all embark on a train journey from Ostend to Istanboul. Coral Musker, a good natured variety dancer with a bad heart, Dr Richard John, Myatt Carleston, a Jewish tradesman dealing in currants, Mr Opie, a clergyman, Janet Pardoe and Mabel Warren, a couple of lesbian women, Dr Richard Czinner, a famous socialist agitator who disappeared from Belgrade five years before and is now returning to his country to stand trial and finally Joseph Grünlich, a notorious Viennese thief and murderer.
As the story unfolds, more and more is revealed to the reader about the characters' past, some having had a rather shady existence. Mr Greene skilfully shows how different personalities react and behave in a sort of mental struggle once they are thrown together and forced to spend three days in the confined space of a railway carriage. A short, tense and disturbing novel which shows that one rarely escapes one's fate. The reader, Michael Maloney, performs a commendable act, using an wide variety of accents. An excellent audiobook.

4-0 out of 5 stars Early novel contains the "bones" of Greene's later themes.

A sad cynicism lies at the root of Greene's dark humor in this very early (1932) novel, Greene's fourth book and the first entertainment to be written and published for a wide audience. A Jewish businessman, a lesbian journalist, her rebellious young companion, a dancer in need of a job, a Socialist physician wanted in Serbia for treason, and an Austrian thief meet and interact aboard the Orient Express on a trip from London to Istanbul (Stamboul).

Each person in this motley group hopes that some remarkable change will occur to him or her as a result of the trip, but though all eventually get their wish, fate has something devious up its sleeve for each one. These twists and turns, sometimes humorous and sometimes immensely sad, constitute the heart of the novel.

Unlike Greene's later novels, with their fully developed characters and religious themes, this novel's characters are often stereotypes, and the action is often designed simply to bring the characters down, showing that no matter what dreams or goals they may have, that ultimately they have no control over their destinies. Greene's later, much more intensely realized themes--sin and atonement, innocence and guilt, love of life and fear of death, piety and corruption, sex and religion--are missing here.

As the action unfolds and the characters are manipulated, the reader easily recognizes the "bones" of the themes which will later evolve in Greene's mature philosophical novels. As a series of tours de force, and as a glimpse into the creative process of a writer who, at this point, was just beginning to come into his own, this is an intriguing novel, loaded with insights, a fascinating and enjoyable read. Mary Whipple
... Read more

13. The Honorary Consul (Penguin Classics)
by Graham Greene
Paperback: 304 Pages (2008-09-30)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$6.55
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0143105558
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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A morally complex and mature work from a modern master

IN THIS later novel by Graham Greene— featuring a new introduction—the author continues to explore moral and theological dilemmas through psychologically astute character studies and exciting drama on an international stage. In The Honorary Consul, a British consul with a fondness for drink is mistaken for an American ambassador and kidnapped by Paraguayan revolutionaries. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars Yes, It's Bleak, But Pleasures of Reading It Are Many
"The Honorary Consul," apparently the 23d novel by Graham Greene, written rather later in his long career, might, perhaps, crassly be described as a bleak, slow thriller.But, of course, that leaves so much out.The book is set in a provincial Argentine town, in the late 1960's, early 1970's.The town is on one side of the Parana, a great muddy river; on the other side lies Paraguay, which, at the time, is suffering under the bloodthirsty military dictatorship of General Alfredo Stroessner.Argentina, on the other hand, has not yet experienced the bloody military coup that will leave it suffering under extraordinarily bloodthirsty tyranny for many years.

The foreign colony of this provincial Argentine city is small.Principal among the residents is Dr. Eduardo Plarr, a physician, born in Paraguay to a local Latin woman: his English father has vanished into one of Stroessner's prisons.Charley Fortnum, the title character,the honorary consul,is a man of sixty-one who drinks heavily, and has just married Clara, a twenty-year old girl from Senora Sanchez's brothel, the town's only cultural center.Also important in the town is Saavedra, an Argentinean novelist, who sometimes appears to be speaking for his creator.However, the Argentinean publishes lugubrious works that mirror the Latin American obsession with "machismo" that impacts the entire town, and continent.Then there is Colonel Perez, the frightening, knowledgeable, efficient, intuitive local policeman with hooded, sunglass-hidden eyes.Throw in a radical priest or two, some terrorists, and Greene has created a vivid, accurate picture of Latin America at the time.

Fortnum is kidnapped by Paraguayan revolutionaries who meant to take the American ambassador.However, the terrorists decide to make the best of the situation, and threaten to kill the Englishman anyway, if their demands for the release of political prisoners -- one of them Plarr's father--are not met.Needless to say, Plarr is torn, especially since one of the terrorists is an old school friend of his.And Plarr had become the lover of Fortnum's wife.Greene's writing is compact, terse, brilliant in its description of the physical and emotional landscape of his portrait of troubled people, time and place.

The writer traveled widely, as a journalist, and to research his novels.He had great serendipity in his wanderings: many of them occurred at critical times.Obviously, he was in Argentina at a rather fraught time.His sojourn in Mexico produced two books, including the famous The Power and the Glory (Penguin Classics). The Cuban-set Our Man in Havana (Penguin Classics) was published in October, 1956; on New Years Day 1959 the revolutionary Castro came down from the Cuban mountains to sweep into power.Greene set his Vietnamese war novel, The Quiet American (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition), just before the important battle of Dien Bien Phu.He set The Comedians (Penguin Classics), in the last days of "Papa Doc" Duvalier's tyrannical Haiti regime.

Greene (1904-1991), who was one of the more illustrious British writers of the 20th century, enjoyed a very long life, and a very long, distinguished, prolific writing career. Many of his books were bestsellers; many were made into movies.He was one of the better-known Catholic converts of his time; many of his thrillers, as this one, deal with Catholic themes of guilt and redemption.At the outset of his career, he famously divided his work into novels - the heavier, more philosophical works, and the lighter entertainments.Nobody would call "The Honorary Consul" a light entertainment; nevertheless, it has the author's usual concise wit, and, although its outlook is bleak, the pleasures of reading it are many.

4-0 out of 5 stars "Take me back to the whiskey. That's my sacrament."
"The Honorary Consul" written in the early 1970s about a botched kidnapping attempt of an American ambassador in Argentina teems with usual Graham Greene characters all of whom are, not coincidently, lapsed Catholics. The three main characters are Eduardo Plarr, a half English-half Paraguayan doctor who lacks the ability to love and has lost faith in God. Eduardo has ambivalent feelings toward his father who sent him and his mother to Argentina when he was a boy. Throughout the book, he appears to await his father's return who is imprisoned. Charley Fortnum is the eponymous honorary consul who is mistakenly kidnapped in the place of the American ambassador. Having been born and raised in Argentina, Charley never visited England. He is an alcoholic like his father and constantly seeks the right measure to get drunk. People need water to live he needs whiskey. Like Eduardo he too had a distant relationship with his own father and has difficulty imagining himself be one. Leon Rivas, a rebel, ex-priest and a childhood friend of Eduardo, seeks his help with the kidnapping. Leon left the church following a dispute with his archbishop over teaching and tries his hand at becoming a revolutionary. Like most Greene books the dialogue is focused on the characters' belief, contradictory teachings of the Catholic Church, politics, adultery, failure, love and the need to have hope. If one prefers something light-hearted from the author please consider "Monsignor Quixote" and "Travels with My Aunt."

5-0 out of 5 stars Greene's most enduring novel
In a provincial town 800 km north of Buenos Aires a group of revolutionaries kidnap by mistake Charly Fortnum, the Honorary Consul, instead of the American Ambassador. They request the liberation of 10 prisoners from Paraguay.
The characters are brilliantly drawn and the prose is sparse and taught. Fortnum, sixty-one year old, living on whisky and his disputed status as an "Honorary" British Consul marries a young ex-prostitute from Senora Sanchez's brothel. Dr Eduardo Plarr whose deficient emotions form the heart of the novel. Although Plarr is Clara's lover and the father of the child she's expecting, he still envies Fortnum's love for her because it is a feeling he has never been capable of experiencing himself. Even the minor characters of the kidnappers, Aquino, Father Rivas and Marta are sardonically drawn and during the bungled kidnap, plenty is said among them about justice, faith, love and God during the 3-day confine in a dirty mud and tin hut.

4-0 out of 5 stars Terrific Range of Characters in Desperate, Hopeless Plot
"The Honorary Consul" is the first Graham Greene novel I've read, and it is easy to see why Greene has earned so many devoted fans and seemingly over-the-top superlatives over his long career.

Based on this novel, Greene's strength seems to be creating a rich cast of characters, full of different tics, scars, dreams, virtues, and flaws, and dropping them into a plot of balanced tragedy and farce.By stirring great ingredients into a delicious recipe, Greene created a novel to savour and one, I would bet, improves with each reading.

Set in an anonymous border town just on the Argentine side of Paraguay, "The Honorary Consul" focuses on the hapless, accidental kidnapping of Charley Fortnum, the titular honorary consul.A band of revolutionaries, lethally inept, swipe the British Fortnum instead of their target, the American ambassador, whom they wanted to exchange for political prisoners in the Paraguayan dictatorship nearby.Unfortunately for the kidnappers, Fortnum's title is more impressive than his station, and nobody is all that eager to save Fortnum, much less give in to the kidnappers' demands.

Further adding to the travesty of the situation, Fortnum's only connection to the outside world is Dr. Plarr, a half-British, half Argentinian physician who is also having an affair with Fortnum's wife, a former prostitute.Plarr, whose father vanished into the Paraguayan prison system years ago, is a man incapable of emotion -- when it comes to relationships, he's good at the physics but not the chemistry.

Plarr struggles to help the innocent Fortnum escape his looming fate -- if ten political prisoners are not released from Paraguay, the kidnappers will shoot Fortnum.Through his efforts both with the kidnappers and with several possible saviors, Plarr meets and interacts with a host of characters whose range of quirks and passions would be at home in a Casablanca cafe.

Greene writes with an economic, spare prose that is nevertheless powerful, often using dialogue and soliloquies to advance the story rather than long-winded descriptions of setting.Clocking in at under 300 pages, "The Honorary Consul" is a riveting read that probably goes too fast on the first read.I plan on putting it aside for a few months before taking it up again . . . I'm sure I'll catch a bit more meaning the second time around, but there was plenty for the first trip through.

A dark, occasionally depressing novel of lost opportunities, false passions, and the ultimate quest for truth, "The Honorary Consul" is a heck of a read.Check it out.

4-0 out of 5 stars Not Quite Great
At their best, Greene's novels put ordinary men in difficult moral situations. Then, his characters make heroic, but often self-defeating, moral choices. These great novels include THE POWER AND THE GLORY, THE HEART OF THE MATTER, THE QUIET AMERICAN, and THE COMEDIANS. Read them.

In THE HONORARY COUNSUL, Greene also creates difficult moral situations for his primary characters. But, in this novel, the dilemmas of Father Rivas and Dr. Plarr are without Greene's usual deft balance between choice and disaster.

Instead, Greene creates moral situations that appear doomed almost from the book's beginning. As a result, the choices that Rivas and Plarr make don't seem especially heroic. Instead, these characters seem to be caught in a death machine, which is indifferent to their personal dilemmas.

To a large extent, they are like Charley Fortnum, the novel's honorary counsel, who is kidnapped mistakenly by political revolutionaries. Here, Fortnum, despite lots of misery and recrimination, is basically waiting for the denouement, as the death machine grinds forward.

In Greene's great books, there is also the pleasure of seeing characters move through time and place. In contrast, much of this novel is conversation, with Greene making his points. Many of these are about moral responsibility. But others just seem "writerly", with Greene developing endless ironic connections between apparently dissimilar characters.

Nonetheless, this is a good read and a rewarding book, with the best scene the querulous formation of the Anglo-Argentinean Club.
... Read more

14. Journey Without Maps (Penguin Classics)
by Graham Greene
Paperback: 272 Pages (2006-06-27)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$10.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0143039725
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
His mind crowded with vivid images of Africa, Graham Greene set off in 1935 to discover Liberia, a remote and unfamiliar republic founded for released slaves. Now with a new introduction by Paul Theroux, Journey Without Maps is the spellbinding record of Greene’s journey. Crossing the red-clay terrain from Sierra Leone to the coast of Grand Bassa with a chain of porters, he came to know one of the few areas of Africa untouched by colonization. Western civilization had not yet impinged on either the human psyche or the social structure, and neither poverty, disease, nor hunger seemed able to quell the native spirit. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

3-0 out of 5 stars Vivid Portrait of Hardship in Liberia
It's with no little trepidation that I confess to finding little to enjoy in this book. Over many years, I have read much of Graham Greene's work and hold it in high esteem, but I had to struggle to finish this real-life tale of his 1936 journey to Liberia.

Greene accurately and vividly describes his hardships hiking through a brutal climate and coping with extremely primitive conditions in a wild, disease ridden part of the globe. As an adventure tale about a relative neophyte making his way in a harsh landscape, this book has real value. Greene vividly describes the poverty and disease that surrounds him throughout most of his trip.

Yet even given its obvious virtues, I have two substantial problems with this book:

* Greene has little interest in the culture or religion of the people he meets in Liberia.
* The prose seems unnecessarily dense, obscure and complex.

It is perhaps unfair to criticize Greene for not having more interest in anthropology, yet ancient tribes and native cultures are innately interesting and Greene misses an unusual chance to explore these subjects. He has an unfortunate habit of calling shamans and other African spiritual leaders "devils." My complaint here is not that he is politically incorrect, as he is remarkably respectful and open to the people he meets. Yet he uses this term as a humorous means of dismissing their entire culture, without ever explaining how their society works, and why it might be either satisfying or unsatisfying. It's not so much that he doesn't like the culture of the natives he meets, as that he is uninterested in it.

The same is true of the folk customs that he encounters. He finds the drumming and singing of the Africans to be boring, and sees their ancient dances as a primitive form of the "Charleston." The Charleston was popular for ten years at most, while the rhythms, dancing and clothes of the tribes he encountered might well have had a 10,000 year history. He bypasses an entire culture designed to establish social customs that held tribes together, dealt with death and disease, and ensured some tentative form of economic structure. Greene says nothing of these issues; it's all just noise and mindless dance moves to him.

In other books, Greene writes with great feeling and skill about the Catholic Church, its beliefs and customs. Can't he summon some of that skill to examine the religion and culture of the Africans he encounters on this trip? My claim is not that all religions are equal, or that each cultural has the depth of the rich, 2000 year history of art, philosophy and politics associated with the Catholic Church. But surely there was some cultural in Liberia, something worth discussing in more depth than the cursory, off hand comments that Greene uses when dismissing the customs of the primitive peoples with whom he lived intimately for several weeks.

All this might have been easier to take had the book been easier to read. I've heard some people complain about Greene's prose style even as manifested in his best books. I disagree with those critics. At his best, Greene used the English language with great skill, and he had a remarkable ability to create characters and set a scene. This is a well written book, and some passages in it are brilliant. For instance, Greene portrays the human traits in the laborers he employed to help him during his journey. He describes vividly their character when they became funny, cheerful, sad, lazy or morose. The disease and pestilence that he encountered is often made excruciatingly real, so that one can see the sweat on people's faces, feel the sting of bugs, and hear the sound of rodents scrabbling through the grass huts at night when the lights are out. Yet some of his sentences ramble on through dense thickets of prose through five or six long lines of tiny print without ever revealing much of interest to anyone. In the opening pages of the text he quotes at length from miserable guidebooks that would otherwise have happily sunk without a trace into the mists of time had he not chosen to preserve them.

This is not a bad book, and some very insightful men, Paul Theroux among them, think it is a great book. This gives me pause. Certainly in reading it, I learned quite a bit about Liberia, and perhaps more than I wanted about the viewpoint Graham Greene adopted when he traveled in Africa. I have now, however, started a new book, a novel by George Orwell on his experiences in Burma set in the same time frame as this text. Orwell writes beautiful, with clear vivid prose. He brings to life the people, both English and native, who lived in Burma with a bright, energetic clarity. Though Graham Greene's book is not at all without merit, I'm grateful to be reading Orwell's "Burmese Days" and to be done with "Journey without Maps."

4-0 out of 5 stars Liberia as a platform for exploring Deepest Greene, and worth the journey
In 1935, in the first flush of success of his first acclaimed novel, Greene took off to explore the concept of Africa, building on his notions of adventure from childhood reading. Identifying never-colonized Liberia as the most authentically uncivilized of African destinations, he set off, with his 23-year-old female cousin, a troop of native bearers and virtually no knowledge or experience of trekking. His four weeks of walking a twelve-inch path through the Liberian wilds, stopping at villages overnight, makes an interesting and engaging account, never sentimentalized, and with much thoughtful insight. He gives plentiful narrative detail, but always is overwhelmingly concerned with the psychic reverberations of Africa, and his perceptions of primitivism, in his own life and outlook. He is not unaware of the irony of his deliberate quest for un-self-consciousness flowing from external reflections on the "natural" human world. This book is an interesting counterpoint to observations of modern-day Liberia, for which progress over the ensuing seven decades remains elusive. A few more of the roads have been paved, but most of the country remains bare soil, now soaked in more blood and mayhem than the quaint natives and masked, raffia-skirted tribal "devils" of 1935 could have dreamed of.

4-0 out of 5 stars In the heart of darkness, a ray of light
Graham Greene is a famous 20th C novelist ("The Orient Express") who also wrote a few travel accounts. This is his first, when he was 31 years old and left Europe for the first time in his life to experience the uncivilized "dark heart of Africa" by traveling through the back country of Liberia in 1935. It was a 4-week, 350-mile walk, mostly through an unchanging tunnel forest path, ending each day in a primitive village. He had about a dozen black porters who would carry him in a sling, although he walked much of the way.

It's written with a very "old school" perspective, with one foot in the 19th (or 18th) century of romantic colonial imperialism, and one foot in the pre-war 1930s perspective of deterioration, rot and things falling apart. Heavy whiskey drinking, descriptions of the festering diseases of the natives, and plethora of bothersome insects, the run down European outposts and a motley cast of white rejects fill many descriptive pages.

It reminds me a lot of Samuel Johnson's "Journals of the Western Isles" (1770s) when Johnson, who had never left England in his life, decided to go to Scotland to see what uncivilized people were like. Just as Johnson brought Boswell who would go on to write his own version of the trip, Greene brought his female cousin Barbara Greene (who remains unnamed in the book and largely unmentioned), who went on to write her own version of the trip in the 1970s called "Too Late to Turn Back", which mostly contradicts Grahams version.

I can't say I totally enjoyed this book, I found Greene's attitude irritating - but therein lies its value, as a snapshot of prewar European zeitgeist. It is reminiscent of "Kabloona" (1940), another prewar travel account to an uncivilized place (Arctic Eskimos) by a young European aristocrat, who also is deeply inward looking and finds a new perspective and appreciation for the "cave man" people he meets. It's very much a transition period between prewar and post-war attitudes and the fluctuation's back and forth, the sense of things falling apart, but also new-found perspective, make it a challenging but interesting work.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent transaction
This book provides and excellent background about traveling in the country of Liberia during the mid-19th century. A well written and interesting travelogue.

5-0 out of 5 stars Found what he went looking for and more
Graham Greene was weary and appalled by the world atrocities of the early 20th century.He decided to go looking for life as basic and unspoiled as it was in the beginning.He chose to do so in Liberia, the African nation that had always been under black rule and not colonized or fleeced by Europe in modern times, though even it was a western construct, carved out of the continent by Americans as a homeland to repatriate freed slaves (or, as Greene says, a place to hide mulatto offspring).His trek on foot lasted the month of February 1935, and JOURNEY WITHOUT MAPS is his account of what became a transformative experience.

The title is derived from the fact that there were no true maps available of Liberia at the time.He relied on a caravan of native porters and a lot of guestimations as to what direction and how far it would be from village to village.Once leaving the ragged European communities near the coast, he and his party plunged into that virgin world he sought.What he describes in exquisite detail is now familiar to us via decades of National Geographics but was then, to someone who had never left Europe at that point, a culture shock.He learned to leave behind his English insistence on time table and surprise at naked, ritually scarred bodies, the persistent sound of drums and the utter poverty of villages.He did not let go his own clothes or whiskey or discomfort over rats and insects.He is eventually waylaid by sickness, and in the healing process comes out with a new, more life affirming personal vision.Though it seems as if the details of the daily marches, the insects and discomforts are so much of the same, by the end you see the impact of the experience.He found what he went looking for and more, and he was not afraid to leave some mysteries unsolved.

Greene's prose is clear as a bell and graceful.His observations of contemporary politics and missionaries, as well as the elasticity of truth in such a setting are valuable today, even seasoned with his candid biases. ... Read more

15. The Heart of the Matter ; Orient Express ; A Burnt-out Case ; The Third Man ; The Quiet American ; Loser Takes All ; The Power and the Glory
by Graham Greene
 Hardcover: 864 Pages (1977-03)

Isbn: 0905712013
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Graham Greene classics - 7 winners on one ticket
Seven winners on one ticket - worth a gamble.

Library of Congress listing:

LC Control Number: 77378966
Type of Material: Book (Print, Microform, Electronic, etc.)
Personal Name: Greene, Graham, 1904-1991.
Uniform Title: Novels. Selections
Main Title: The heart of the matter ; Stamboul train ; A burnt-out case ; The third man ; The quiet American ; Loser takes all ; The power and the glory / Graham Greene.
Published/Created: London : Heinemann/Octopus, 1977.
Description: 856 p. ; 24 cm.
ISBN: 0905712013 :
CALL NUMBER: PZ3.G8319 He 1977 FT MEADE ... Read more

16. The Third Man and The Fallen Idol (Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin)
by Graham Greene
Paperback: 160 Pages (1992-07-01)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$6.73
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 014018533X
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
The Third Man is Graham Greene's brilliant recreation of post-war Vienna, a ‘smashed dreary city’ occupied by the four Allied powers. Rollo Martins, a second-rate novelist, arrives penniless to visit his friend and hero, Harry Lime. But Harry has died in suspicious circumstances, and the police are closing in on his associates…The Fallen Idol is the chilling story of a small boy caught up in the games that adults play. Left in the care of the butler and his wife whilst his parents go on a fortnight’s holiday, Philip realises too late the danger of lies and deceit. But the truth is even deadlier. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars Passport to Vienna
Despite what other reviewers have written, The Third Man works first as literature. I know Vienna pretty well and am impressed at the desolate picture Greene creates of it--the smashed tanks and bombed buildings that turned the wintry city landscape into "great glaciers of snow and ice." The English pronunciation, "glassy-airs," makes the line read more smoothly than "glay-shurz." If Greene derided The Third Man in later years, the reason could be the pure artist's distrust of a work that achieves such phenomenal commercial success.
The Third Man is narrated by Colonel Calloway, a competent but world-weary, cynical police inspector of the British Occupation Army at the end of the Second World War. The problem for the American, Rollo Martins, in Calloway's opinion, is that Martins "believed in friendship, and that was why what happened later was a worse shock to him than it would have been to you or me." And then Calloway apologizes for being presumptuous about others' conceptions of friendship.
My copy of The Third Man arrived five days after I ordered it. I had to replace my old Pocket Book 1974 edition when I realized the Pocket Book editors had deleted Calloway's more trenchant observations of the Russian Occupation Army--as an arm of Stalin's foreign policy initiatives--in the spirit of "Detente," the policy of accomodation that characterized the early seventies, or until the Russian invasion of Afghanistan.
But the Russians are portrayed only as boorish lackeys of a totalitarian state. The real evil is perpetrated mostly by ex-pat Americans led by Harry Lime and Colonel Cooler. In one remarkable passage, Greene describes Lime's evil as something out of Christopher Marlowe: "Marlowe's devils wore squibs attached to their tails: evil was like Peter Pan--it carried the horrifying gift of eternal youth."
Odd to think of romance blossoming in such an environment. Greene describes Anna Schmidt, with her head bent against the chill winds, "a dark question mark on the snow."
The Third Man, a classic! (five stars)

4-0 out of 5 stars The Mystery as Fine Literature - Two Efforts from Graham Greene
Penguin has released a thin volume that contains Graham Greene's novella The Third Man and his short story The Fallen Idol. Moviemakers turned both of these works into successful films. I recommend this volume, though I enjoyed The Third Man much more than I enjoyed The Fallen Idol.

The Third Man is much more famous than The Fallen Idol. The novella concerns a hack writer who journeys to Vienna, Austria, to see a friend shortly after World War II. Once in Austria, the writer finds that his friend has died under mysterious circumstances. The writer begins to investigate and finds that his friend was involved in some repellent activities.

There are many things to like about The Third Man. Greene does a great job of evoking Vienna. Prior to reading the book, I was unaware that each of the four Allied Powers had governed part of Vienna after World War II; Greene weaves the post-war tensions among the Allies into his story. Greene also paints vivid images of Vienna as a cold, ruined city struggling through winter.

Another great aspect of The Third Man is its characters. Greene had a talent for writing about characters facing complex moral questions. Unlike so many other writers, Greene never gives his characters (and his readers) an "easy out"; whatever decision the character makes is bound to be imperfect and painful. The manner in which Greene's characters respond to these situations is both revealing and fascinating.

The publisher tacked on The Fallen Idol in an apparent effort to bulk up the book. (The Third Man is only 120 pages and The Fallen Idol is about 35 pages). I liked the plot of The Fallen Idol; in the story a young boy is exposed the failures and deceits of adults. The adults involve him in their affairs and the experience bruises the boy's psyche.

Though I thought that The Fallen Idol had great potential, I also thought that the story was "a near miss." Somehow, The Fallen Idol didn't draw me in completely. I was too aware that I was reading a story that Greene had contrived.

(As a final note, the book contains a preface for each of these stories. Readers should avoid reading these prefaces until after they have read the stories. Maddeningly, each preface contains some "spoilers" that may detract from the reader's enjoyment).

Readers who want to enjoy complex, literate stories of suspense, will find no better writer than Graham Greene.

4-0 out of 5 stars nutritious lit-snack.
Gobbled this twofer down on a transatlantic flight. Third Man is indeed inferior to the film, which Graham all but concedes upfront, introducing it as a workmanlike story written as a sketch for the movie. You just can't get Orson Welles' screen magnetism, Reed's elegant canted angles or the kickass zither from the page, and the movie's ending is just worlds better. But a good read nonetheless.

Fallen Idol is the real gem here. So lean and vivid. I love the feverish child-logic that drives it. Certain leaps and passages are a bit WTF? till you remember the driving consciousness is that of a 7 year old. Both stories hinge in different ways on children & disrupted innocence (with the image that fixes Lime's nefariousness in Rollo's mind in 3rd Man and the whole structure of Fallen Idol), which gives a smart thematic thrust to their collection together.

Ian Thomson's foreword [in the UK Random House edition, though possibly not in this item] is quite good too, calling the above disrupted innocence motif "an awareness of sin and human wretchedness that can be termed 'Catholic.'" It's everything an intro to a short little volume should be, chatty and stage-setting but deftly incisive: "Frontiers have a dynamism of their own in Greene's fiction: they set off a reflex of unease." Indeed.

5-0 out of 5 stars Two sides of Greene: One good and another great
As Graham Greene admits in the preface of the novella "The Third Man", this story 'was never written to be read but only to be seen'. When invite by director Carol Reed to write a screenplay, the British novelist decided to write a short story first and then develop the script. As he confess, it is too hard to write a movie without having worked on the story previously, because the movie depends also on characterization, mood and atmosphere, and these are hard to be captured in the first time in a screenplay.

"The Fallen Idol" on the other hand, was already a published story when Reed invited Greene to work in the screenplay. The writer suspected it wouldn't be a good movie, but accepted the 'challenge' due to the respected he had for the director.

Greene wrote "The Third Man" only as a blueprint for the script and, nevertheless, both story and movie are great. It is a novella with a little more than 100 pages, and yet largely entertaining, as the writer wanted it to be. Not many writers are capable of doing such a amazing story without pretension -- because it is not easy to acquire simplicity.

The plot is not complicated as well. A British writer arrives in the pos-War divided Vienna to meet an old friend, who turns out to be dead. But there are some suspicious events surrounding his death -- and he also has a gorgeous girlfriend, who is very sad. Rollo, the main character, ends up investigating the death and there comes many twists in the plot of the story.

"The Third Man" is a very short narrative, nevertheless, Greene succeeded in all he wanted. More than anything, the story has atmosphere. Vienna is destroyed, picking up the pieces -- so are the characters who are caught in a plot bigger than themselves. However much Rollo doesn't want to be involved with his friend's death -- he can't avoid due to the train of events that catch him.

The writing is Greene at his best. The plot is convincing and well built with tension and fun coming from every page. Although the novel is slightly different from the movie, fans of Carol Reed's genial "The Third Man" can't be disappointed with the short story that was the genesis of this that is considered the best British movie ever.

"The Fallen Idol" is even a shorter story, and Greene couldn't believe it could be translated into a movie. It is a good piece of writing with believable characters and an engaging plot. But, when compared to "The Third Man" it lacks energy -- but it is not really a problem, since Greene's writing are never bad.

4-0 out of 5 stars Two dark, ironic stories whichled to early noir films.
The Third Man, written originally as the outline for the screenplay of Carol Reed's famous 1949 film of the same name, is set in occupied Vienna just after World War II.The sectors established by the conquering British, Americans, French, and Russians contribute to an atmosphere of tension and mystery, and an almost palpable aura of menace as residents and visitors alike must deal with four different governments, four sets of officials, and four collections of laws as they move throughout the city.

Rollo Martins, an author of cowboy novels, arrives in Vienna to visit an old school friend, Harry Lime, only to find that he has arrived on the day of Lime's funeral. Investigating Lime's death, Martins learns that a neighbor saw the traffic accident that killed Lime and observed three men carrying Lime's body from the scene. Only two of those men have been identified--the third man has vanished.

As Martins investigates Lime's death, the novel is by turns exciting and darkly humorous, intensely visual in its descriptions and action, but lacking the characterization and thematic focus which one associates with most of Greene's work. The novella is full of wit and dark theatrics, and includes everything from a chase through the sewers to a love story.

The Fallen Idol, sometimes known as "The Basement Room," is, by contrast, a psychological, rather than plot-based story.Nine-year-old Philip, who idolizes the family's butler Baines, since his parents pay little attention to him, is left with Baines and his wife while the parents go on vacation.Baines is having an affair, and Philip innocently discloses this to his wife.

The resulting confrontation results in an accident in which the wife ends up dead, and Philip, panicked, runs out, only to be picked up by a policeman, to whom another naive remark conveys the idea that Baines has murdered her.Irony and a delightfully drawn child's point of view (unusual for Greene)make The Fallen Idol one of Greene's more interesting and twisted stories.

Both The Third Man and The Fallen Idol led to film collaborations between Greene and director Carol Reed--The Fallen Idol in 1948, and Reed's more famous film of The Third Man in 1949.Dark humor, elaborate ironies, and surprising twists characterize both stories and show Greene to be a master manipulator of perceptions.Mary Whipple
... Read more

17. England Made Me (Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin)
by Graham Greene
Paperback: 208 Pages (1992-03-01)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$6.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140185518
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Anthony Farrant has boasted, lied and cheated his way through jobs all over the world. Then his twin sister, Kate, gets him taken on as the bodyguard of Krogh, her lover and boss, a megalomaniac Swedish financier. All goes well until Krogh gives orders that offend Anthony's innate decency. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

2-0 out of 5 stars Difficult going
I have read a lot of GG and consider myself an admirer, but this one was a real chore to get through. It honestly gave me a headache several times. The sister and brother Farrant are fairly compelling characters but the Swedish industrialist Krogh is a complete cipher-- also murky beyond comprehension are whatever financial shenanigans he is up to.The book has moments of clarity but large swatches (page after page really) were for me nearly incomprehensible.The story appears to be narrated from several points of view which adds to the confusion.Stick with his better known works unless you are determined to read everything he ever wrote.

3-0 out of 5 stars Far from great, but worth it
'England Made Me' is a relatively early novel in the illustrious writing career of Graham Greene, who was considered repeatedly for the Nobel Prize in Literature but ended up on a list of rejected greats that includes Joyce, Proust, Lawrence, and Maugham.Written during the outbreak of industrial globalization and trends that scattered British citizens throughout the world in pursuit of a good salary, 'Made Me' must have struck a nerve with readers in 1935 and has something of a prophetic voice today.

Just over 200 pages, Greene's novel follows the lives of Anthony Farrant and his twin sister, Kate, who share a deep affection for one another but have drifted geographically apart.Anthony has connived through one job, one country, one apartment, and one girlfriend after another; Kate, meanwhile, has enjoyed 'success' as the personal secretary and mistress of Erik Krogh, an industrial magnate based in Stockholm.Ever willing to help, Kate talks her lover into hiring Anthony as his bodyguard and 'watches over' the erratic sibling.

While emphasizing the petty ways of Anthony, Greene draws a bleak industrial landscape between the First and Second World Wars, with human decency and feelings of self-worth quickly eroding.In Greene's universe, all three main characters are cold and lonesome.Kate is certainly the more successful Farrant, but she has climbed her way to the executive offices through lust and a fair share of ruthlessness.Krogh is comparable in ways to Howard Hughes, a man who has everything, yet is constantly shadowed by the threat of failure and clueless on how to interact with others.

'England Made Me' is not only a social document that portraits a loss of national identity and individualism, but also a bizarre love story involving Kate, Krogh, and Anthony.Throughout the novel, Kate is torn between her love for Krogh and her 'sisterly' love for Tony, which grows in desperation and often borders on the incestuous.The Farrants' relationship is certainly one of the most unorthodox in world literature and leads to a shattering climax.

Well-made secondary characters bring energy to the novel, especially Minty, a fellow down-and-out Englishman who is a member of the Stockholm press, and Lucia Davidge, a vacationing girl whom Anthony falls for.Greene effectively gives us a tour of the Swedish capital, leaving us at several landmarks where the action takes place.'England Made Me' has Greene's familiar style of journalistic narration, simple yet wonderfully alive.A Catholic viewpoint is again used in his storytelling, although not with the enrobing quality of his later work.

'England Made Me' is not one of Greene's better novels, as a good portion of the writing is cliched and certain points in the storyline appear forced in order for things to move along.But the inferior Greene will beat the superior work of other writers nine times out of ten and should be enjoyable to fans of 20th century British authors.

3-0 out of 5 stars A real slog
Graham Greene is my favorite author, and I've read most of his novels, but for me, this was a real slog to get through.In fact, the only reason I finished reading it was to learn from his usual excellent use of similes and metaphors.To me the conflict was meager, the plot boring, and the characters not all that interesting.I kept waiting for a brilliant twist in the plot, or some thrill, but alas, I finished reading the book wishing I'd read something else instead.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Truth is a Dangerous Thing
A novel about the black sheep of a British family, England Made Me is an indictment of the "solid morals" that English society held fast to in the early twentieth century, and an incisive look at what "doing the right thing" actually leads to. ... Read more

18. The Graham Greene Film Reader: Reviews, Essays, Interviews and Film Stories (Applause Books)
by Graham Greene
Hardcover: 748 Pages (2000-05-01)
list price: US$35.00 -- used & new: US$19.69
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1557831882
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
An anthology of reviews, essays, interviews and film stories by this legendary writer. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars a master at his wise best
Graham Greene writes reviews with the authority of someone who has actually written novels and films and his insights are more helpful than a dozen books on screenwriting.

5-0 out of 5 stars Greene: The Very Best
Novelist, playwright, essayist-critic and screenwriter
Graham Greene is always tops. This collection of his
film reviews from '30s is quite brilliant. A critic must
first entertain, he wrote. Pls send this advisory to all
the bores who are writing online and (daily) dinky-inkys.
And writing 1500 sleep-inducing words.

5-0 out of 5 stars A forgotten side of Mr Greene
This book -- all 800 or so pages -- is a goldmine for Greene fans. It'schock full of reviews, essays, articles, and letters, and it shows MrGreene at his wittiest. Some of the reviews are absolutely scathing, andhis insight into the film business is enlightening. Buy it. ... Read more

19. Travels with My Aunt (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)
by Graham Greene
Paperback: 288 Pages (2004-09-28)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$5.52
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0143039008
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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A novel which follows a man who embarks on a journey around the world with his elderly yet adventurous aunt, visiting locations such as Paris and Paraguay, mixing with hippies, war criminals and CIA Agents. From the author of OUR MAN IN HAVANA. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (33)

2-0 out of 5 stars Prank
Mr. Adam, a 1947 novel by Pat Frank, was called "A fat prank by Pat Frank."

Travels with My Aunt is a prank by Graham Greene.

5-0 out of 5 stars Save the introduction for last
This is a gorgeous edition of a wonderful book -- the cover art by Brian Cronin for these deluxe editions is absolutely gorgeous -- and other reviewers have thoroughly explained how it is one of Greene's later, more unusual successes. All that remains to be said is BEWARE ITS HORRIBLY SPOILER-FILLED INTRODUCTION.

It'd be clear how much Gloria Emerson, its author, loved Graham Greene even if her only novel wasn't called 'Loving Graham Greene.' She relates some very sweet memories of meeting him in Antibes, 1972, for Rolling Stone. Then she lovingly reveals the endings of 4 or 5 of his best novels in as many pages. Why anyone, any publisher would print such disastrous introductory material, the world may never know.

As with the other Penguin Classics Deluxe Editions of Graham Greene ('The Heart of the Matter' is another big offender), any page numbered with Roman numerals mysteriously insists on murdering your enjoyment of the timeless classic you hold in your hands. They'd do just as good to print the last chapter first. Skip the intro, enjoy the book.

3-0 out of 5 stars Quaint, mildly funny
Since the story has been summarized by others many times, there is no point in repeating it.
It's a quaint, mildly funny story and an easy read.

Except the nice English language -there is nothing to this short novel.

4-0 out of 5 stars Lucky I don't have an Aunt Augusta
Public fame and several commentaries about this book made me expect an "entertainment", as Greene himself called his more generic or relaxed books. I expected a purely comical book, full of British wit and crazy adventures. It is all that but, in the end, it is also a Greene novel, and his themes, or better, obsessions, pop up everywhere: the consequences, often irremediable, of what was not, or of what was and shouldn't have been; the intrinsic loneliness of each person; lost time; indifference before death; the original savagery. Of course, in this novel these subjects are treated in the key of farce. Somewhat like in "Our Man in Havana", but unlike in his most somber works like "A Brunt-out Case".

At his mother's funeral, Henry Pulling meets his Aunt Augusta, a younger sister of the deceased's, for the first time in fifty years. After picking up the ashes, he goes to Aunt Augusta's apartment to have a drink. There they are joined by "Wordsworth", the Aunt's African valet-lover. After some drinks, Henry leaves, but suddenly remembers he has forgotten the urn and returns to get it. A little later, the police ring up in his house and ask for the urn, as they have suspicions that the ashes have been replaced by marijuana.

This incident detonates the plot in which Henry will be involved. He is a solitary fiftysomething, a never-married virgin, recently retired as a bank manager. His only distractions are his dahlias and the Walter Scott novels he inherited from his father. His parents' story is strange and disturbing, and in fact his mother was not the biological one. Henry follows his aunt in a discontinuous series of trips with both sordid and comic adventures, first to Istanbul and the to Paraguay. Obviously, Henry starts discovering a totally different life experience compared to his own. Aunt Augusta has been and continues to be a dissolute, opportunistic, enchanting, cynical, and basically delinquent woman, which drags his innocent nephew into the lower strata of society, in adventures which show him the face of crime and corruption.

Certainly not one of Greene's top novels, nevertheless he shows in good, even if relaxed, form. It also shows that, up until his old age, he never ceased to ponder on the mysterious workings of the human soul.

4-0 out of 5 stars It's Graham Greene, of course . . .
Graham Greene is probably my favorite author.True to form, Travels with My Aunt is rich with dry, intelligent humor (sometimes not so dry), and subtle sharp wit.

It's an unusual piece compared to prior Greene that I've read - even a bit of a farce.A retired English banker becomes entwined in the world of his very worldly aunt (or is she actually his aunt?).As implied, there is travel . . . from the Orient Express to the jungles of Paraguay.Lot's of characters, maybe too many for my tastes.I was lost occasionally.

Unfortunately, for me it was NOT one fo those can't-put-it-down, can't-wait-to-get-back-to-it novels.Extremely well written, but not really a great story.Perhaps there was no clear "antagonist".

A decent piece, but not representative of what made Graham Greene one of the great 20th century novelists. ... Read more

20. The Ministry of Fear: An Entertainment (Penguin Classics)
by Graham Greene
Paperback: 224 Pages (2005-04-26)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$8.36
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0143039113
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
For Arthur Rowe, the trip to the charity fete was a joyful step back into adolescence, a chance to forget the nightmare of the blitz—and the aching guilt of having mercifully murdered his sick wife. He was surviving alone, aside from the war, until he happened to guess both the true and the false weight of the cake. From that moment, he finds himself ruthlessly hunted, the quarry of malign and shadowy forces, from which he endeavors to escape with a mind that remains obstinately out of focus. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (13)

5-0 out of 5 stars A spy thriller at its subtle best
Graham Greene was a very talented and prolific twentieth century writer, perhaps best known for his novels The End of the Affair and the Third Man, both of which were made into successful films. Many of his books explore the struggle of modern man or woman to make moral choices in a complex and often corrupt world. He also liked to write thrillers, which he called "entertainments" to distinguish them from what he considered his more serious novels.

Greene's thriller The Ministry of Fear certainly is entertaining.Greene pulls out all the stops in this story of Arthur Rowe, a middle aged, disillusioned man with a sordid past who stumbles into a real mystery when he wins a cake in a raffle at a seedy charity fair. From the moment he claims his cake made with "real eggs" (real eggs were a true delicacy during the London Blitz!),Rowe becomes a marked man.He is followed, threatened, attacked, betrayed, imprisoned, and nearly blown up.Through it all he tries to figure out what mysterious message is connected with the cake. Does it all point to a devious plot to threaten the allied cause and his beloved England?

Because Greene is such a first class writer, he can't write a story that doesn't have some deeper subtext about good and evil, or create a hero who doesn't engage and interest us.We cannot help but care about what happens to Arthur Rowe.Greene keeps us guessing until the very end about whom Rowe should trust.

When we remember that The Ministry of Fear was written during the war when no one knew which side would ultimately triumph, this novel of espionage and moral choices packs an even more potent punch.Espionage writers come and go, but you will have to look hard to find a writer more engaging, effective, and ,yes, entertaining than Graham Greene.

4-0 out of 5 stars Thriller of Fear, Paranoia
I was waiting to catch a plane at PDX and saw a young guy sitting across from me reading this book. No this isn't a Craigslist "Missed Connection;" I just thought the book looked interesting so I made a note of it and bought it when I arrived home.

This was a very well written, succinct thriller that was written and published during World War II. Graham Greene is generally known for writing literary fiction but also wrote what would today be called thrillers or bestsellers (which he referred to as "entertainments") and *Ministry Of Fear* is a prime example of Greene's entertainments. It was fun to read a thriller written by such an accomplished literary author, and the book conveys a thick sense of fear and paranoia that I imagine is quite a genuine depiction of life during wartime.

But wait, there's more! An interesting film was made based on this book, starring Ray Milland, who was perfect in the lead role. The movie had quite a few different plot elements than the book, some of which were actually improvements - but the best thing is the entire movie is available for free on youtube - cool!

4-0 out of 5 stars London and sanity, crumbling together
An interesting "entertainment" from Greene. The Ministry of Fear is a (sort-of) thriller, memorably set during the Blitz. The protagonist, a tortured and guilty man named Arthur Rowe, haunts the charred London landscape, the half-buildings and surreal remains somehow jibing perfectly with his own skewed perceptions. In a Hitchcockian turn, the doings of Rowe's casual day turn sinister and inexplicable as he stumbles onto a nest of German spies. The now typical formula of "wrong man" episodes and interactions gets a particularly complicated spin in this prototype of the form, mainly due to Rowe's already compromised sensibilities. Everything is suspect, even Rowe's own identity, and solving the mystery will also mean putting his memory and sense of self back together.

As conventional thrillers go, the novel is fairly un-gripping and tame. Many of its confrontations were pretty pat and familiar at the time, I think. But the real strength of the book comes from its piecemeal, often bizarre characterization, and from the reader's having to constantly assess the possibly delusional information being processed by Rowe. I got the sense of two or even more stories playing out simultaneously--occupying the same space, so to speak--and of having the advantage of Rowe in seeing the potential danger before he does. The easy term for that is dramatic irony, and it's the kind of feeling most often evoked by the best horror fiction (like Dracula, for instance). That's suitable, since The Ministry of Fear is nothing if not vaguely nightmarish.

Whether or not the book could be called "quintessential noir" or not depends on your understanding of this many-nuanced term. To me noir is more cynical and fatalistic in its outlook than this. I was most reminded of the sort of noir Hitchcock practiced in his thrillers, where the details of the spies and their villainy were far less important than establishing mood and effect. The mood here is of the silent horror film: unreal but weird, and disturbingly detached from the normal.

5-0 out of 5 stars A gripping story set during the Blitz
Arthur Rowe, a retired journalist, is the unlikely winner of a cake, the weight of which he correctly guessed during a charity fête patronized by The Free Mothers. For Rowe, the fête should have been an innocent trip back to childhood and innocence, a welcome chance to escape the terror of the Blitz and to forget twenty years of his past as a murderer. Instead he becomes a haunted man because he possesses a cake which was destined for somebody else. It turns out that the cake contains some poison - hyoscine - which nearly kills an innocent man called Poole. Then Rowe is involved in a séance with Mrs Bellairs, a fortune teller, and several other people during which a man called Cost is killed with Rowe's own knife. He manages to escape with the help of Willi Hilfe, an Austrian refugee. Next Rowe is accosted by a man called Fullove who specialises in eighteenth century landscape gardening books and who asks Rowe to help him carry his heavy suitcase to the Regal Court and to leave it there in the room of a certain Travers. A page guides Rowe to Mr Travers's room where Anna, Willi Hilfe's sister, is waiting. Soon after that, Rowe and Anna open the suitcase which contains no books but a bomb which goes off...
At this stage - the middle of the novel - the plot does not seem to make much sense but in the second part Mr Greene carefully assembles the pieces of the jigsaw so that by the end of the narrative the reader has a clear picture of the mystery. Reading the novel one realizes that war is like a bad dream in which familiar people appear in terrible and unlikely disguises and that nobody is to be trusted. That is the Ministry of Fear, the general atmosphere spread by the enemy so that one can't depend on a single soul. And then there is that other Ministry of Fear to which all who love belong since if one loves, one fears at the same time.

5-0 out of 5 stars A complex entertainment
Arthur Rowe, an inhabitant of wartime London during the Blitz with a terrible secret, visits a fair one day on a lark, setting in motion a chain of events that will thrust him into a shadowy world where nobody, not even oneself, is quite what they seem.Graham Greene is an extraordinary writer, painting fully developed characters with great economy of language.He is also a master of atmosphere; I have rarely encountered an author who so skillfully develops an ambiance of fear, paranoia, and regret.This black mood and a dearth of exciting action set pieces may be the reason some reviewers question this novel's status as a thriller, but I was enthralled by the quiet dread that makes our hero's fate so uncertain.The brilliant conclusion infuses a superficially happy ending with a strong dose of tragedy. ... Read more

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