The Captain and the Enemy

( 2 )

Overview

Victor Baxter is a young boy when a secretive stranger known simply as “the Captain” takes him from his boarding school to live in London. Victor becomes the surrogate son and companion of a woman named Liza, who renames him “Jim” and depends on him for any news about the world outside their door. Raised in these odd yet touching circumstances, Jim is never quite sure of Liza’s relationship to the Captain, who is often away on mysterious errands. It is not until Jim reaches manhood that he confronts the Captain ...

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Overview

Victor Baxter is a young boy when a secretive stranger known simply as “the Captain” takes him from his boarding school to live in London. Victor becomes the surrogate son and companion of a woman named Liza, who renames him “Jim” and depends on him for any news about the world outside their door. Raised in these odd yet touching circumstances, Jim is never quite sure of Liza’s relationship to the Captain, who is often away on mysterious errands. It is not until Jim reaches manhood that he confronts the Captain and learns the shocking truth about the man, his allegiances, and the nature of love. This Penguin Classics edition features an introduction by John Auchard.

The book "wastes not a word in distilling the fictional preocupations of a lifetime." -- Time

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Exquisitely understated, moving and graced by humorous touches, Greene's new novel draws the reader into intriguing events related by narrator Victor Baxter. Now age 28, he tells of his 12th birthday when a stranger, ``The Captain,'' takes him from school on an outing from which he never returns. The man says he won Victor from ``the Devil, your father,'' and brings him to live in a drab London flat with Liza, who has lost a child. It's all right with the boy; his mother is dead and Baxter Sr. doesn't want him. He obeys the Captain's wishes to change his name to Jim and become Liza's son. Life with substitute parents is interrupted by the Captain's frequent absences on ``jobs'' that bring detectives to question the little family about money the Captain has sent them, but he remains free to pursue his suspicious enterprises. After many years, during a time when the adventurer has been on a secret operation in Panama, a letter arrives asking Liza to join him. Jim goes instead, however, for reasons he doesn't explain to the Captain, now known as Smith. A sly American called Quigly and others are dangerously interested in father and son. There is a shocking end to the story, whose core, revealed gradually through layers of mystery, speculates on the nature of love and the omnipotence of ``the enemy,'' and has an unexpected connection to contemporary events. 40,000 first printing; $25,000 ad/promo; BOMC alternate. (October)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140188554
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/28/1999
  • Series: Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin Series
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 663,896
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 0.43 (d)

Meet the Author

Graham Greene

Graham Greene (1904-1991), whose long life nearly spanned the length of the twentieth century, was one of its greatest novelists. Educated at Berkhamsted School and Balliol College, Oxford, he started his career as a sub-editor of the London TimesHe began to attract notice as a novelist with his fourth book, Orient Expressin 1932. In 1935, he trekked across northern Liberia, his first experience in Africa, told in A Journey Without Maps (1936). He converted to Catholicism in 1926, an edifying decision, and reported on religious persecution in Mexico in 1938 in The Lawless Roadswhich served as a background for his famous The Power and the Glory, one of several “Catholic” novels (Brighton RockThe Heart of the MatterThe End of the Affair). During the war he worked for the British secret service in Sierra Leone; afterward, he began wide-ranging travels as a journalist, which were reflected in novels such as The Quiet AmericanOur Man in HavanaThe ComediansTravels with My AuntThe Honorary ConsulThe Human FactorMonsignor Quixoteand The Captain and the EnemyAs well as his many novels, Graham Greene wrote several collections of short stories, four travel books, six plays, two books of autobiography, A Sort of Life and Ways of Escape, two biographies, and four books for children. He also contributed hundreds of essays and film and book reviews to The Spectator and other journals, many of which appear in the late collection ReflectionsMost of his novels have been filmed, including The Third Man, which the author first wrote as a film treatment. Graham Greene was named Companion of Honour and received the Order of Merit among numerous other awards.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Henry Graham Greene (birth name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 2, 1904
    2. Place of Birth:
      Berkhamsted, England
    1. Date of Death:
      April 3, 1991
    2. Place of Death:
      Vevey, Switzerland

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2003

    Not Greene's best

    This is not one of Greene's best books, but it is worth a read if you are a fan of his works. About a third of the way through this book I was ready to chalk it up as a major disappointment. The payoff comes late, and when it does it makes the read well worth the time. The last third of the book is a marvelous sketch of relationships and love. Greene really knows how to put the subtleties of life into words. This isn't a 'buyer beware,' it's just a 'buyer be patient!' The Greene touch is here, you just have to get to it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2001

    Enjoyable but forgettable

    This book reads like the work of a man well past his prime. Touching at times and often clever, the story never brings it all home. If you're interested in Graham Greene, give Our Man in Havanna a try instead.

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