The Third Man

( 3 )

Overview

Rollo Martins' usual line is the writing of cheap paperback Westerns under the name of Buck Dexter. But when his old friend Harry Lime invites him to Vienna, he jumps at the chance. With exactly five pounds in his pocket, he arrives only just in time to make it to his friend's funeral. The victim of an apparently banal street accident, the late Mr. Lime, it seems, had been the focus of a criminal investigation, suspected of nothing less than being "the worst racketeer who ever made a dirty living in this city." ...

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The Third Man

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Overview

Rollo Martins' usual line is the writing of cheap paperback Westerns under the name of Buck Dexter. But when his old friend Harry Lime invites him to Vienna, he jumps at the chance. With exactly five pounds in his pocket, he arrives only just in time to make it to his friend's funeral. The victim of an apparently banal street accident, the late Mr. Lime, it seems, had been the focus of a criminal investigation, suspected of nothing less than being "the worst racketeer who ever made a dirty living in this city." Martins is determined to clear his friend's name, and begins an investigation of his own...

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Greene's novella, or "entertainment," was written in 1950 as a sort of preliminary draft for a screenplay and was not actually intended to stand alone as a written work. The motion picture, stated Greene, is better than the story because it is the story in its finished state, and it is the film, starring Joseph Cotten and Orson Welles, that most people will remember. This audiobook, however, brings the story to life very effectively, with all its suspense, odd turns of plot, and intriguing characters placed in the powerful setting of post-World War II Vienna. Murder, racketeering, mystery, and subterfuge combine for a compelling tale that is simple, economical, concise, and very satisfying. Reader Martin Jarvis communicates the mood and pace with intensity and skill and good character differentiation. Chapter breaks and side ends are marked musically by, what else, the famous zither-performed theme song. The story, complete on two cassettes, will please patrons who prefer a shorter commitment. Recommended for all popular collections.--Harriet Edwards, East Meadow P.L., NY
Library Journal
08/01/2014
This theatrical production of Greene's play employs a wide array of sound effects to support the action. A must-hear for those who want to experience a noir thriller in the style of an old-fashioned radio drama. Performed by a full cast.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140286823
  • Publisher: Viking Penguin
  • Publication date: 5/28/1999
  • Edition description: 59th Anniversary Edition
  • Edition number: 50
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 280,764
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 5.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Graham Greene (1904-1991) was a prolific novelist, short story writer, travel writer and children's book writer. Many of his novels and short stories have been successfully adapted to the movie screen, including The Third Man (directed by Orson Welles), The End of The Affair, and The Quiet American

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

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2002

    originally only a film, not meant to be a separate book

    The Third Man is an interesting story, but it was never supposed to be a novella. It has well developed and complex characters and interesting form because its narrator is a British policeman. I believe this book is well written, but I still think that the movie is better. The story is a short read for a rainy day, but you should not expect it to compare to the film. Some of the more interesting parts of the film are not in the book(i.e. the way they figure out that Lime is not dead.)

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 13, 2012

    I READ THIS BECAUSE I SAW THE FILM--WITH THAT GREAT ZITHER MUSIC

    I READ THIS BECAUSE I SAW THE FILM--WITH THAT GREAT ZITHER MUSIC AND CHARISMATIC ORSON WELLES. GREENE WRITES WELL, BUT THE STORY -- ACH! FORGET IT. I THINK THE MOVIE IS WORTH WATCHING, BUT YOU CAN SKIP THE BOOK. I FOUND THE PLOT A BIT CONFUSING TO FOLLOW IN THE NOVEL, AND IT JUST DID NOT INTEREST ME -- HARRY LIME, THE ENIGMATIC CRIMINAL AND LOVER, WITH HIS 2 LOYAL FOLLOWERS. WATCH THE FILM, INSTEAD!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 22, 2013

    I had absolutely no idea what to expect from this book. I am not

    I had absolutely no idea what to expect from this book. I am not usually into spy stories, but the plot of this screenplay was both intriguing and enjoyable. I especially like that the author points out the differences between the original screenplay and that used for the film. This is one spy movie I would very much like to see.

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