A Study in Greene: Graham Greene and the Art of the Novel

By Bernard Bergonzi | Go to book overview

1
Obsessions and Jokes

IN 1929 Graham Greene hit the ground running in the opening paragraph of his first novel, The Man Within:

He came over the top of the down as the last light failed and could almost have cried with relief at the sight of the wood below He longed to fling himself down on the short stubby grass and stare at it, the dark comforting shadow which he had hardly hoped to see. Thus only could he cure the stitch in his side, which grew and grew with the jolt, jolt of his stumble down hill. The absence of the cold wind from the sea that had buffeted him for the last half hour seemed like a puff of warm air on his face, as he dropped below the level of the sky. As though the wood were a door swinging on a great hinge, a shadow moved up towards him, and the grass under his feet changed from gold to green, to purple and last to a dull grey. Then night came. (ch. 1)

The prose may be rather too careful and deliberate, but it effectively conveys physical sensations; this is in every sense a promising opening for a young novelist who was not yet 25. The Man Within is a historical novel set among Sussex smugglers in the early years of the nineteenth century The running man, Francis Andrews, is the son of a smuggler, now dead. He has been brought up in his father's gang but has betrayed them to the authorities, in a gesture which seems as much an act of filial independence as a desire to uphold the law. Andrews's action is an early instance of the preoccupation with betrayal that runs through Greene's work, and which

-12-

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A Study in Greene: Graham Greene and the Art of the Novel
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vi
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1: Obsessions and Jokes 12
  • 2: Into the Thirties 22
  • 3: Entertainments 61
  • 4: Brighton 80
  • 5: Mexico 103
  • 6: A Catholic Novelist? 117
  • 7: The Greene Man 142
  • 8: Manic Interludes 167
  • 9: Last Words 174
  • Books by Graham Greene 190
  • Index 193
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