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

By Bernard Bergonzi | Go to book overview

9
Last Words

IN the 1980s Greene published two short novels in a fabular vein, Doctor Fischer of Geneva or the Bomb Party and Monsignor Quixote, which led his fiction in new directions. After a long immersion in anomic tropical regions, we are transported in Doctor Fischer to the cold clean air, civic amenity, and Protestant austerity of Switzerland: Greeneland's icy mountains, in short. The narrator, Alfred Jones, has a very common English surname, previously borne by one of the central trio in The Comedians. At the start of the novel he is a lonely middle-aged widower whose wife has died in childbirth, together with their baby daughter. He lives in Switzerland, using his linguistic skills in a humble job translating foreign correspondence for a manufacturer of chocolate. He lost his left hand when fighting fires in the London Blitz, and is self-conscious about this deformity. He finds unexpected happiness after a casual meeting with Anna-Luise, the young daughter of the eponymous Doctor Fischer, a toothpaste tycoon; despite the difference in their ages, she and Jones fall in love and marry. (The January-May marriage is a recurring motif in late Greene, as with Charley Fortnum and Teresa, and Maurice Castle and Sarah). AnnaLuise hates her father for having driven her mother into an early grave, and Fischer is well worth hating; Jones's first words are, 'I think that I used to detest Doctor Fischer more than any man I have known just as I loved his daughter more than any other woman.'

-174-

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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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