The Heart of the Matter

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Overview

Graham Greene (1904-1991) was a prolific novelist, short story writer, and travel writer. Among his many novels are The Quiet American, The Third Man, and The Ministry of Fear.
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The Heart Of The Matter

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Overview

Graham Greene (1904-1991) was a prolific novelist, short story writer, and travel writer. Among his many novels are The Quiet American, The Third Man, and The Ministry of Fear.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A superb storyteller with a gift for provoking controversy."
New York Times

“Greene had the sharpest eyes for trouble, the finest nose for human weaknesses, and was pitilessly honest in his observations . . . For experience of a whole century he was the man within.”
—Norman Sherry, Independent

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Graham Greene (1904-1991) worked as a journalist and critic, and was later employed by the foreign office. His many books include The Power and the Glory, The Third Man, Our Man in Havana, The Comedians and Travels with My Aunt. He is the subject of an acclaimed three-volume biography by Norman Sherry.

Biography

Known for his espionage thrillers set in exotic locales, Graham Greene is the writer who launched a thousand travel journalists. But although Greene produced some unabashedly commercial works -- he called them "entertainments," to distinguish them from his novels -- even his escapist fiction is rooted in the gritty realities he encountered around the globe. "Greeneland" is a place of seedy bars and strained loyalties, of moral dissolution and physical decay.

Greene spent his university years at Oxford "drunk and debt-ridden," and claimed to have played Russian roulette as an antidote to boredom. At age 21 he converted to Roman Catholicism, later saying, "I had to find a religion...to measure my evil against." His first published novel, The Man Within, did well enough to earn him an advance from his publishers, but though Greene quit his job as a Times subeditor to write full-time, his next two novels were unsuccessful. Finally, pressed for money, he set out to write a work of popular fiction. Stamboul Train (also published as The Orient Express) was the first of many commercial successes.

Throughout the 1930s, Greene wrote novels, reviewed books and movies for the Spectator, and traveled through eastern Europe, Liberia, and Mexico. One of his best-known works, Brighton Rock, was published during this time; The Power and the Glory, generally considered Greene's masterpiece, appeared in 1940. Along with The Heart of the Matter and The End of the Affair, they cemented Greene's reputation as a serious novelist -- though George Orwell complained about Greene's idea "that there is something rather distingué in being damned; Hell is a sort of high-class nightclub, entry to which is reserved for Catholics only."

During World War II, Greene was stationed in Sierra Leone, where he worked in an intelligence capacity for the British Foreign Office under Kim Philby, who later defected to the Soviet Union. After the war, Greene continued to write stories, plays, and novels, including The Quiet American, Travels with My Aunt, The Honorary Consul, and The Captain and the Enemy. For a time, he worked as a screenwriter for MGM, producing both original screenplays and scripts adapted from his fiction.

He also continued to travel, reporting from Vietnam, Haiti, and Panama, among other places, and he became a vocal critic of U.S. foreign policy in Central America. Some biographers have suggested that his friendships with Communist leaders were a ploy, and that he was secretly gathering intelligence for the British government. The more common view is that Greene's leftist leanings were part of his lifelong sympathy with the world's underdogs -- what John Updike called his "will to compassion, an ideal communism even more Christian than Communist. Its unit is the individual, not any class."

But if Greene's politics were sometimes difficult to decipher, his stature as a novelist has seldom been in doubt, in spite of the light fiction he produced. Kingsley Amis, Evelyn Waugh, and R. K. Narayan paid tribute to his work, and William Golding prophesied: "He will be read and remembered as the ultimate chronicler of twentieth-century man's consciousness and anxiety."

Good To Know

Greene's philandering ways were legendary; he frequently visited prostitutes and had several mistresses, including Catherine Walston, who converted to Catholicism after reading The Power and the Glory and wrote to Greene asking him to be her godfather. After a brief period of correspondence, the two met, and their relationship inspired Greene's novel The End of the Affair.

Greene was a film critic, screenwriter, and avid moviegoer, and critics have sometimes praised the cinematic quality of his style. His most famous screenplay was The Third Man, which he cowrote with director Carol Reed. Recently, new film adaptations have been made of Greene's novels The End of the Affair and The Quiet American. Greene's work has also formed the basis for an opera: Our Man in Havana, composed by Malcolm Williamson.

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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 4.5
( 11 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(8)

4 Star

(1)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 43 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2012

    A mess

    This version is a mess. Ali shows up as ALL or some other word entirely, and many times there are symbols in place of letters. This made it confusing to read. The title popped up im the middle of pages, and random numbers appeared throughout. A very poor version of the book. A shame, because this is a good story.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2012

    A very poor edition. Uncorrected OCR. Shamefull.

    A great writer deserves better treatment.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 18, 2011

    Wont download

    Please fix

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2012

    Bad version

    Why aren't there real, English versions of Greene's novels?

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2008

    Scobie Must Choose

    Graham Greene is my favorite author and this book just adds to my esteem of him. Scobie is a police officer who cannot resist saving and comforting the pitiable aspects of people and life. His wife's 'ugliness' 'more than just the physical' and his pity of that keeps him only interested in making her happy...until he is granted freedom when she decides to travel to the south of Africa with a friend. Then, he is drawn by pity to a recently married and more recently widowed survivor of a sinking ship. His feelings of love, guilt, and responsibility for both women come to a head when his wife returns. The religious inner dialogue of this novel and all of Greene's works that I've read provide insights into my life and my world that are timeless. This book was published in 1948 and it speaks to me more than fiction that I've read published this year. I recommend Greene's writing, not just this novel, because once you begin reading you can trust that he will deliver a thought-provoking and awakening piece of writing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2000

    The confusion of pity and love

    I stumbled onto Graham Greene in a roundabout way, so I failed to anticipate his stature as an Important Novelist; I thought he was a man who wrote books that were turned into excellent films, and then I read a short story by him called 'The Basement Room' that happened to be posted online. What a revelation. The previous reviewer griped about the religiosity of this book, but novels as complex and careful about their characters as this one--and Greene is one of the most acid and assiduous chroniclers of the indecisions of the heart as any I have encountered--are not so easily pigeonholed into decisions about morality. His Major Scobie is torn between conflicting senses of duty--to his church, and to his two women--and in the end it is uncertain after all whether he was a weak man or a strong man, and whether he was a good man or bad. The dialogues are crisp and exact; characters revolve in their own constricting passions; and the colonial life is drawn unsentimentally and candidly. Greene is a master craftsman, and his moralizations evolve from character; not, I believe, vice versa.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2000

    I NEED A PRIEST!

    After reading three other works by Greene I have come to the conclusion that his works belong under the category religious fiction. In this novel, once again the main action is driven by questions of faith. Scobie, a police officer in Africa during WWII, finds himself dangling between adultery and faith, corruption and justice, punishment and understanding. Two thirds of the book is excellent but Greene seems to use the loss of faith to tidy up the ends of his books because he can see no other way for characters to get out of their situations unless they fall prostrate before the Roman Catholic Church. While the characterization is good most of the novel, they turn into caricatures by the end and lose their identity. This book is very similar to his other novel, The End of the Affair, and is similarly disappointing. I am beginning to agree with some other critics that maybe Greene will not be as important as a novelist in the future and will be seen as merely average or mediocre in generations to come.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2000

    Excellent

    Probably one of the best written English novels I have ever read. The fall of a man's soul, debated in a destructive conflict between ancient principles and cultural restraints, and discovered needs and emotions. As a background, a back-door view of the 'glories' of colonization: a little hell for expatriots and Africans alike. Don't expect a lot of suspense, but a short, keen, immensely introspective search for truth and human dignity.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted November 12, 2011

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    Posted April 6, 2011

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    Posted June 20, 2011

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    Posted July 13, 2011

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    Posted November 7, 2010

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    Posted June 28, 2014

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