Graham Greene: novels of the nineteen thirties

2019-11-06T15:23:50Z (GMT) by Robert Cunningham
This study deals with six novels published by Graham Greene in the nineteen thirties - Stamboul Train (1932), It's a Battlefield (1934), England Made Me (1935), A Gun for Sale (1936), Brighton Rock (1938) and The Confidential Agent (1939). For many years, these works of fiction were divided into two categories, novels and entertainments. As a prelude' to reviewing the six books on equal terms, I challenge that division by means of an examination of Greene's own statements, contemporary reviews and post-war criticism. The main areas of my investigation thereafter are Greene's portrayal of aspects of contemporary life in the thirties and the evidence which exists for the widespread belief that Greene held left-wing political views. I examine key themes in all six novels, finding in each of them evidence both of an ambiguous stance on politics and of personal obsessions. The texts of the first editions are used to provide further insight into Greene's original attitudes and intentions; all the verbal variants between the early editions and the Collected Edition are listed in an appendix. By means of a thorough analysis of five key motifs - journey, home, confined spaces, blackmail and the double-cross, and war - I explore recurring features and common qualities of the novels. This is followed by an examination of the range of characters in the novels and ways in which they are presented, with particular emphasis on Greene's use of popular stereotypes. Narrative technique and structural elements in the novels are examined, with specific examples. Analysis of the textural elements of diction and imagery is supported by two appendices; one lists occurrences of two key adjectives, the other all the similes used in the six novels. My conclusion is that Greene's novels of the thirties are characterised by the development of a distinctive technique, by views which arise from personal obsessions and middle class values, and by a non-aligned position on party politics.