Graham Greene's Narrative Strategies: A Study of the Major by M. Roston

By M. Roston

On account that Greene intentionally misled biographers and interviewers, Roston focuses upon the texts themselves and their manipulation of reader reaction, highlighting the leading edge techniques that Greene constructed to deal with the mid-century invalidation of the normal hero and the capability hostility of readers to his advocacy of Catholicism. the result's a stimulating new examining of the main novels.

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Extra info for Graham Greene's Narrative Strategies: A Study of the Major Novels

Sample text

Not only was he blindly intoxicated at the time, unaware of his actions as a result of having tried to fortify his ebbing courage but, as we learn from her own lips, was the victim of a calculating peasant woman, eager for the celebrity of being known in the village as a priest’s mistress, a woman who deliberately seduced him in his state of inebriation. As always, that alleviating factor is not mentioned by the priest; we learn of it only when she complains of the change in circumstances that has deprived her of the renown she had craved: ‘When you-know-what happened, I was proud.

4 By that criterion, Greene’s preference for individuals haunted by a conviction of postmortal damnation over those assured of their eternal happiness should be seen not as an offence against his adopted religion but as fully warranted exploration of those religious struggles and disquietudes that orthodoxy often prefers to ignore in the interests of advocating righteousness among its simpler laymen. He explores those struggles of faith that lie at the heart of Christianity and, indeed, of all religions advocating spiritual self-improvement and decrying self-righteousness.

There is, indeed, support for this reading in a remark made by Greene (a remark that could not have been intended to mislead, as there would have been no discernible purpose in so doing). ’14 A distinction is of course to be made, as Greene’s comment acknowledges, between the priest as we meet him in this novel, struggling to fulfil his duties in a country under a viciously anti-Catholic regime, and his earlier career long before the story began when he had been utterly different, a self-satisfied clergyman complacently enjoying the good things of life, ‘a fat youngish priest who stood with one plump hand splayed out authoritatively’, as depicted in the photograph on the notice-board in the lieutenant’s office (p.

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