The Man Within by Graham Greene (1929)

Andrews’s mind pierced its maze of vague thinking in a flash of fear, and he half ran across the room to the door through which he had entered the night before. A sense of overwhelming desolation passed over him, a wonder whether he would ever know peace from pursuit. (p.27)

This book is tripe. A rich slice of teenage angst, narcissistic self-obsession and histrionic emotions hung on the scaffold of a lurid and melodramatic plot stuffed with ludicrously stereotyped and clichéd characters, spouting long speeches of Victorian bombast.

Never before can a ‘major writer’ have started his career with such a pitiful production and left it in print for everyone to identify the adolescent attitudes and self indulgent self-pity which were to inform all his later work: the thumping repetition masquerading as meaning, the sentimental religiosity masquerading as theology, the addiction to pornography and prostitutes masquerading as ‘daring’, and the continual pull towards despair and suicide masquerading as ‘living on the edge’.

Author’s apology

In an Author’s note Greene apologises for the republication of such an immature work, begun while he was still 21 and published when he was just 24. He had already had two novels rejected by Heinemann and was to forbid the republication of the two novels he wrote after this one, well aware they were rubbish.

So Greene had a very shaky, uncertain start to his writing career and, this novel clarifies, never shook off the profound misery, the suicidal despair, the outsize theatricals of his adolescence. His later Catholicism, far from being a carefully evaluated intellectual position, merely gave him permission, an acceptable outlet for the extreme feelings of rejection, alienation, damnation and despair which haunted him from his earliest years and are all-too-evident here:

To Andrews the falling clods were a measurement of time, recording the vanishing moments of his peace. He would be happy to stand in the cold and the mist through eternity watching the shovelling spades. Fear was pressing in upon his mind. (p.39)

He felt no fear of death, but a terror of life, of going on soiling himself and repenting and soiling himself again. There was, he felt, no escape. (p.167)

The plot

Set in a vague, undefined eighteenth century, the novel opens pell-mell with one Frances Andrews fleeing through woods somewhere on the South Downs near Shoreham, his consciousness saturated by terror and dread of his pursuers, stumbling through trees in a dense fog until he stumbles on a cottage in a clearing, raps on the door and collapses as it opens, glimpsing an attractive young woman pointing an antique rifle at him. He is being pursued by a man named Carlyon who he has a supernatural dread of. And dread and fear are very much the keynotes:

Loneliness and fear were like the emptiness of hunger to his belly… a friend who would pity him and understand his fear… he forgot his danger and his fear… the mere abstract fear of light…in almost continuous fear of Carlyon… it seemed incredible that he should so fear Carlyon… he found it impossible even in flight and fear… in the dark of the wood and far from Carlyon he had feared him… torn between his fear, precipitate, unreasoning fear… as he stared into the orange glow, fear was given an opportunity to assert itself… (pp.40-45)


The young woman is called Elizabeth. When Andrews blundered into her cottage she had the corpse of her guardian, Mr Jennings, laid out in a coffin between candles. Andrews barges against it, almost hallucinating with fear, then passes out. Next day, through Hammer Horror mist, Andrews attends the dead man’s funeral, suspended in a strange equivocal relationship with Elizabeth, herself, it turns out, an outsider among the mute villagers who attend the funeral.

On the way back, in thick fog, Andrews is paralysed with fear at the sound of Carlyon’s voice in the mist, calling to a henchman. Heart racing, he inches away from the voice. Back at the cottage Andrews finally spits out his life story – his dad was a big bad smuggler who made enough money to send him to school, but then interrupted interrupted his education and bullied him into the family trade ie forcing him to take ship with the smugglers. When his dad died, Andrews was alone with them.

Stuck on board Carlyon’s ship he was mocked by the smugglers for being a coward and a mummy’s boy. And after three years of bullying he finally snapped, wrote to Shoreham Customs and betrayed the latest run of Carlyon and his crew. Customs intercepted them on the beach, there was a shootout, six of the smugglers were captured and one excise man – or ‘gauger’ – was shot dead. Three escapees made off in a boat while Andrews escaped up the beach, over the hills and is now running in fear of his life from his employer and former friend, Carlyon.

Then Elizabeth shares her story: the dead man is the lodger, a Mr Jennings, who moved in with her mother and her when she was a child, then bought the house. When her mother died, Mr Jennings looked after Elizabeth and sent her to school until the fateful day when he realised she had become a woman and made a pass at her. She fought him off and there was a year of tension in the little cottage until Mr J abruptly died, was laying out in his coffin, and Andrews comes blundering through the front door.

As she winds up her tale there is a knock at that same front door. Andrews slips behind the door to the stairs and listens as Elizabeth confidently holds off the dreaded Carlyon, for it is he! Eventually Carlyon leaves, persuaded by Elizabeth’s brave lies that there is no-one else there, and Andrews re-enters the small living room with its fire and kneels down to literally worship Elizabeth, overcome with maudlin images of her purity and honour etc. She takes advantage of his feeble devotion to insist that he goes to the Lewes Assizes, where the six captured smugglers are going on trial, to tell the full story.

Part two

So next day, very reluctantly, Andrews drags himself away from Elizabeth’s cottage, up onto the downs and walks to Lewes. Here he is overcome with fatalistic self pity, determines to get drunk in a low tavern and gets chatting to an intense little man who invites him back to his hotel for a meal. Instead, however, he introduces him to Sir Henry Merriman, the prosecutor at the forthcoming trial of the smugglers.

With phenomenal improbability Sir Henry is described as being accompanied by a lazy, sensuous ‘lady of easy virtue’ named Lucy. Sir Henry tells Andrews he must be a witness for the prosecution, Andrews dithers, and they argue, while Lucy provocatively, stagily, mocks the men and their self-importance. On the stairs outside she tells a flustered Andrews, ‘Be a witness and I’ll sleep with you.’

Surprisingly, disconcertingly, the trial is told in a completely different voice and style from the first part. Unlike the self-pitying murk of part one, with its impressionistic portrayal of Andrews’ frenzied dread, the trial is told in a brisk factual style, with a dollop of satire (the various clerks of court are described as nodding off asleep after each one performs his brief duty) and an ironical portrait of the judge, Sir Edward Parkin literally playing to the gallery which is full of attractive women.

Andrews is called as the star witness for the prosecution, bringing with him into the text his localised zone of self pity and ineffective anger and self hatred, but almost every other character in the scene – the barristers for prosecution and defence, the judge and the angry defendants, the six smugglers – are more vivid, vibrant, memorable for just being depicted as they are, without the vast Greene-ish despair. If Greene can leave out the teenage emoting, when he’s just describing people not labouring under fear and loathing, he can be quite funny. Almost a decent writer.

One by one the defendants go through their alibis and are backed up by wives and sweethearts. Then, to his horror, Andrews’ credibility as a witness is adroitly undermined by the defence counsel who brings up the whole matter of him recently staying under the same roof as a notorious ‘loose woman’ who lives in a cottage under the downs. He is, of course, referring to Elizabeth. Despite his feeble protestations that she is a Lady of Shining Honour and Unstained Virtue, the jury snigger and titter and Andrews’ reputation is shot.

Back in the witness room, Andrews is appalled to be told by the sergeant of the court that the smugglers have all been found innocent and are walking free. Andrews is not a popular man and the officials smuggle him back to the inn. Here a) one of the smugglers that had not been caught and who had watched the trial from the public gallery – and who Andrews had spotted but didn’t betray during the trial – enters his room and warns him that Carlyon and the others are likely to go to Elizabeth’s cottage and pay her back for harbouring Andrews. Obviously, he should race off to warn her. But then b) he is handed a note from Sir Henry’s lady friend, Lucy, saying she is waiting for him upstairs, bouncy bouncy.

Of course this plunges Andrews into black pits of despair and uncertainty: Should he stay true to the bright star of pure undefiled Elizabeth, shining in his memory as a symbol of purest Womanhood? Should he rush off at top speed back along the downs to warn her? Or should he pop along the corridor to Lucy’s room and enjoy rampant sex with her, wantoning among her soft breasts and warm thighs etc etc? He thinks of God, he thinks of his mother, he thinks of the saints, oh Hell, oh Fear, oh Despair.

He imagined her naked and in disgusting attitudes and tried to whip his body into a blind lust which would forget for a time at least the dictates of his heart. (p.159)

‘The dictates of his heart’. Even Mills and Boon would be embarrassed.

At moments like this you realise Andrews’ agonising is simply immaturity and ineffectiveness. He needs to man up and make some decisions. And you realise how much of the tortured, self-inflicted agonising, the hand-wringing and despair, the self-centred, self-dramatising self-loathing of almost all Greene’s protagonists, are variations on this central failure simply to think and act like a mature, responsible adult.

The religion, the Roman Catholic dogma which was to spread like a cancer through all Greene’s mature fiction, is a way of justifying the continuing deployment of the same adolescent, narcissistic wallowing in self-pity and self-obsession which are so nakedly on display here, only dressed up in a socially acceptable phraseology of ‘sin’ and ‘betrayal’ and ‘evil’ and ‘redemption’.

After a great deal of delay, even after he’s gone into her room, even after he’s sat on her bed, even after he’s stroked her bare breasts – continually soliloquising about Hell and Damnation and Sin and Faithfulness and Betrayal and Loyalty and Devotion and countless other Victorian proper nouns – even while he’s vowing his faithfulness to distant Elizabeth, oh Elizabeth shining like a Beacon of Purity, my angel, my saint, my Eliz – oops, he finds himself fucking Lucy.

Shag shag shag. Then – guess what? – immediately afterwards he feels wretched and miserable, as if he is damned, as if Trapped By Sin, as if he is a Wicked, Soiled, Sullied Evil Man. What a pathetic loser. He colloquises with Lucy. Women are devils, you lure us to our doom. No, it is men who are devils, you shape us to your lusts. It’s not just like reading a Victorian melodrama, it’s like reading a really bad Victorian pamphlet about Fallen Women and the Sins of the Flesh.

He was disgusted with himself and her. He had been treading, he felt, during the last few days on the border of a new life, in which he would learn courage and even self forgetfulness, but now he had fallen back into the slime from which he had emerged. (p.166)

Part three

Andrews gets dressed and finally hurries back along the downs and into the little valley where the picture book cottage nestles with a frail column of smoke drifting from its adorable little chimney. The door is ajar, oh have the Foul Fiends come to despoil his True Love? No, she’s there perfectly alright, and there are twenty pages of the most excruciating prose ever written, describing how the two young people shyly and bashfully Declare Their Love for each other. I love you. I love you too. Oh Victoria! Oh Albert! He admits he slept with this other woman, a ‘harlot’. Elizabeth forgives him. Oh, but she is a saint.

‘You were right. You are holy. I don’t see how I can ever touch you without soiling you a little, but, my God,’ his voice became vehement and he took a step towards her, ‘I’ll serve you, how I’ll serve you.’ (p.201)

Schoolboy sentimentality. He warns her the smugglers may be coming for her. She fetches out the antique rifle. He loads it. She picks it up. ‘Oh but we’ll need water, go and get it from the well!’ He goes to the well but when he turns, sees a man in the doorway. One of the smugglers! Oh fie fie!!

Petrified, Andrews runs runs runs to the nearest house ten minutes away, and stands arguing with the peasant owner to go fetch the Revenue or the Watch, and lend him an old nag so he can gallop back to rescue Elizabeth like, er, he should have done in the first place. But he didn’t because the whole plot is contrived so that when he enters the cottage – the door now swinging ajar – he finds his nemesis, Carlyon, sitting at the table and Elizabeth slumped in the chair opposite him, dead, dead I tell you, dead!

Allegedly the figure he saw in the doorway was one of the other, rougher, smugglers who began grappling with her and she killed herself with Andrews’ own knife before Carlyon arrived on the scene, just too late.

In a dizzy psychofantasia a dazed Andrews skips past his own (evident) guilt and instead starts blaming everything on his father, his bullying, harsh controlling father, who wore his mother out and dominated the poor boy, it is his father who drove him to a life of smuggling and whoring, his father who made him run away and abandon Elizabeth but now – hahaha – he is going to take revenge on his father, now he is going to kill his father. And as the appalled neighbour and other helpers arrive at the  cottage, apparently catching Andrews red-handed, his knife in Elizabeth’s body (Carlyon has tactfully slipped away) Andrews takes the knife and plunges it into his own panting breast etc etc.

Orchestra reaches a climax. He staggers forward across the stage, reaches his hands up towards the cruel heavens and then falls – oh Tragic Victim of a Cruel World – to the floor. The curtain comes rushing down while the audience bursts into applause. — Actually it’s not quite like that. The book ends as the now demented Andrews reaches forward to sneak a knife out of the belt of the villagers marching him through the wood with the strong implication he is about to put an end to the father-in-him by topping himself.

Immature style

The prose is unbearable: larded with abstract, pseudo-philosophical terminology, every time preferring portentous vagueness to concrete detail, dealing oh-so-casually with really big ideas and feelings as if they were smarties, reducing them – through endless and casual repetition – to the cheap jingles they will become throughout Greene’s prose.

With unexpected resolution he turned his back on the way he had come that morning and half ran as it were into an obscure future. (p.41)

At the thought the dry, strained despair in which he dwelt gave way before a kind of blessed grief. (p.215)

At his own words his heart became a battleground between exaltation and fear. (p.209)

Even extinction was not so dread as the continuance of this aching nightmare. (p.218)

It is as if Lord Tennyson lived on into the 1920s and started writing novels, or Edgar Allen Poe had been reborn in Berkhamsted. Not just the language but the histrionic emotional attitudes, the violent lurching between fear and despair and exultation and release and doubt and despair and fear and exultation and release — round and round like a hamster in a cage the prose hopelessly circles, ringing the changes on the same, narrow, obsessive, neurotic vocabulary:

Over for ever friendship, poetry, silence at the heart of noise; remained fear and continual flight. (p.48)

He advanced cautiously, with one arm of his spirit raised to ward off a blow. (p.49)

It touched his hot brain with cool fingers like the fingers of a woman and the ache and restless longing and despair were at an end. (p.219)

Fear and peace

To stop myself throwing the book across the room in disgust I concentrated on looking for structures and patterns, first in the language (fear/peace, hope/despair), which quickly led me on to realise that the narrative itself is underpinned by a system of binary opposites:

  • whore (Lucy) / Madonna (Elizabeth)
  • strong manly father (his father) / weak cowardly son (Andrews)
  • sea / land
  • law (the lawyers) / criminals (the smugglers)
  • agitated fear / dreamy peace
  • doomed adulthood / innocent boyhood

Something so immature about this worldview which casts every human situation as black or white, a habit of mind which explains – or mirrors – the mad veering from heights of exultation to depths of despair in the protagonist’s wretched consciousness, a failure to experience the world as a hugely more complex tapestry of multiple moods and colours, as a spectrum, as a variety.

It feels as if the ‘story’ with its lurid extremities is a cack-handed fantasy created by Greene to funnel and control the intense and extreme emotions he suffered from. It reminds you in almost every sentence that the author spent his teens in a profound misery which led to numerous suicide attempts and that Greene eventually underwent prolonged psychiatric treatment. ‘Why don’t you write about how you feel?’ his therapist suggested. And the result is a huge bibliography, an unstoppable outpouring of novels, short stories, plays, articles and reviews, one of the most extensive psychological exorcisms on record.

Running away

The topos of the Fearful Flight, a heart-stopping running-away from a menacing enemy, provides a narrative structure and justifies the melodramatic atmosphere of much of Greene’s fiction of the 1930s – A Gun for Sale, Brighton Rock, The Confidential Agent, The Power and the Glory and The Ministry of Fear all feature a man on the run.

In a sense, the mature post-war novels describe the ongoing problems of men who have run away, far far away – to Vietnam (The Unquiet American), Cuba (Our Man In Havana), Congo (A Burnt-Out Case), Haiti (The Comedians), Argentina (The Honorary Consul) – but still can’t escape the crushing sense of failure and despair which dogs them just as much as it cripples this, his very first protagonist. What a wretchedly unhappy man. And what a sequence of desperately unhappy books he created.

The movie

The Man Within was made into a movie of the same name, quite a lot later, in 1947, directed by Bernard Knowles and starring Ronald Shiner as Cockney Harry, Michael Redgrave as Carlyon, Jean Kent as Lucy, Joan Greenwood as Elizabeth and Richard Attenborough as young Andrews.

Related links

Greene’s books

  • The Man Within (1929) One of the worst books I’ve ever read, a wretchedly immature farrago set in a vaguely described 18th century about a cowardly smuggler who betrays his fellows to the Excise men then flees to the cottage of a pure and innocent young woman who he falls in love with before his pathetic inaction leads to her death. Drivel.
  • The Name of Action (1930) (repudiated by author, never republished)
  • Rumour at Nightfall (1931) (repudiated by author, never republished)
  • Stamboul Train (1932) A motley cast of characters find out each others’ secrets and exploit each other on the famous Orient Express rattling across Europe, climaxing in the execution of one of the passengers, a political exile, in an obscure rail junction, and all wound up with a cynical business deal in Istanbul.
  • It’s a Battlefield (1934) London: a working class man awaits his death sentence for murder while a cast of seedy characters, including a lecherous HG Wells figure, betray each other and agonise about their pointless lives.
  • England Made Me (1935) Stockholm: financier and industrialist Krogh hires a pretty Englishwoman Kate Farrant to be his PA/lover. She gets him to employ her shiftless brother Anthony who, after only a few days, starts spilling secrets to the seedy journalist Minty, and so is bumped off by Krogh’s henchman, Hall.
  • A Gun for Sale (1936) England: After assassinating a European politician and sparking mobilisation for war, hitman Raven pursues the lecherous middle man who paid him with hot money to a Midlands town, where he gets embroiled with copper’s girl, Anne, before killing the middle man and the wicked arms merchant who was behind the whole deal, and being shot dead himself.
  • Brighton Rock (1938) After Kite is murdered, 17 year-old Pinkie Brown takes over leadership of one of Brighton’s gangs, a razor-happy psychopath who is also an unthinking Catholic tormented by frustrated sexuality. He marries a 16 year-old waitress (who he secretly despises) to stop her squealing on the gang, before being harried to a grisly death.
  • The Confidential Agent (1939) D. the agent for a foreign power embroiled in a civil war, tries and fails to secure a contract for British coal to be sent to his side. He flees the police and unfounded accusations of murder, has an excursion to a Midlands mining district where he fails to persuade the miners to go on strike out of solidarity for his (presumably communist) side, is caught by the police, put on trial, then helped to escape across country to a waiting ship, accompanied by the woman half his age who has fallen in love with him.
  • The Lawless Roads (1939) Greene travels round Mexico and hates it, hates its people and its culture, the poverty, the food, the violence and despair, just about managing to admire the idealised Catholicism which is largely a product of his own insistent mind, and a few heroic priests-on-the-run from the revolutionary authorities.
  • The Power and the Glory (1940) Mexico: An unnamed whisky priest, the only survivor of the revolutionary communists’ pogrom against the Catholic hierarchy, blunders from village to village feeling very sorry for himself and jeopardising lots of innocent peasants while bringing them hardly any help until he is caught and shot.
  • The Ministry of Fear (1943) Hallucinatory psychological fantasia masquerading as an absurdist thriller set in London during the Blitz when a man still reeling from mercy-killing his terminally ill wife gets caught up with a wildly improbable Nazi spy ring.
  • The Heart of The Matter (1948) Through a series of unfortunate events, Henry Scobie, the ageing colonial Assistant Commissioner of Police in Freetown, Sierra Leone, finds himself torn between love of his wife and of his mistress, spied on by colleagues and slowly corrupted by a local Syrian merchant, until life becomes intolerable and – as a devout Catholic – he knowingly damns himself for eternity by committing suicide. Whether you agree with its Catholic premises or not, this feels like a genuinely ‘great’ novel for the completeness of its conception and the thoroughness of its execution.
  • The Third Man (1949) The novella which formed the basis for the screenplay of the famous film starring Orson Welles. Given its purely preparatory nature, this is a gripping and wonderfully-written tale, strong on atmosphere and intrigue and mercifully light on Greene’s Catholic preachiness.
  • The End of The Affair (1951) Snobbish writer Maurice Bendrix has an affair with Sarah, the wife of his neighbour on Clapham Common, the dull civil servant, Henry Miles. After a V1 bomb lands on the house where they are illicitly meeting, half burying Bendrix, Sarah breaks off the affair and refuses to see him. Only after setting a detective on her, does Bendrix discover Sarah thought he had been killed in the bombing and prayed to God, promising to end their affair and be ‘good’ if only he was allowed to live – only to see him stumbling in through the wrecked doorway, from which point she feels duty bound to God to keep her word. She sickens and dies of pneumonia like many a 19th century heroine, but not before the evidence begins to mount up that she was, in fact, a genuine saint. Preposterous for most of its length, it becomes genuinely spooky at the end.
  • Twenty-One Stories (1954) Generally very short stories, uneven in quality and mostly focused on wringing as much despair about the human condition as possible using thin characters who come to implausibly violent endings – except for three short funny tales.
  • The Unquiet American (1955) Set in Vietnam as the French are losing their grip on the country, jaded English foreign correspondent, Thomas Fowler, reacts very badly to fresh-faced, all-American agent Alden Pyle, who both steals his Vietnamese girlfriend and is naively helping a rebel general and his private army in the vain hope they can form a non-communist post-colonial government. So Fowler arranges for Pyle to be assassinated. The adultery and anti-Americanism are tiresome, but the descriptions of his visits to the front line are gripping.
  • Loser Takes All (1955) Charming comic novella recounting the mishaps of accountant Bertram who is encouraged to get married at a swanky hotel in Monte Carlo by his wealthy boss who then doesn’t arrive to pick up the bill, as he’d promised to – forcing Bertram to dabble in gambling at the famous Casino and becoming so obsessed with winning that he almost loses his wife before the marriage has even begun.
  • Our Man In Havana (1958) Comedy about an unassuming vacuum cleaner salesman, Jim Wormold, living in Havana, who is improbably recruited for British intelligence and, when he starts to be paid, feels compelled to manufacture ‘information’ from made-up ‘agents’. All very farcical until the local security services and then ‘the other side’ start taking an interest, bugging his phone, burgling his flat and then trying to bump him off.
  • A Burnt-Out Case (1960) Tragedy. Famous architect Querry travels to the depths of the Congo, running away from his European fame and mistress, and begins to find peace working with the local priests and leprosy doctor, when the unhappy young wife of a local factory owner accuses him of seducing her and fathering her child, prompting her husband to shoot Querry dead.
  • The Comedians (1966) Tragedy. Brown returns to run his hotel in Port-au-Prince, in a Haiti writhing under the brutal regime of Papa Doc Duvalier, and to resume his affair with the ambassador’s wife, Martha. A minister commits suicide in the hotel pool; Brown is beaten up by the Tontons Macoute; he tries to help a sweet old American couple convert the country to vegetarianism. In the final, absurd sequence he persuades the obvious con-man ‘major’ Jones to join the pathetic ‘resistance’ (12 men with three rusty guns), motivated solely by the jealous (and false) conviction that Jones is having an affair with his mistress. They are caught, escape, and Brown is forced to flee to the neighbouring Dominican Republic where the kindly Americans get him a job as assistant to the funeral director he had first met on the ferry to Haiti.
  • Travels With My Aunt (1969) Comedy. Unmarried, middle-aged, retired bank manager Henry Pullman meets his aunt Augusta at the funeral of his mother, and is rapidly drawn into her unconventional world, accompanying her on the Orient Express to Istanbul and then on a fateful trip to south America, caught up in her colourful stories of foreign adventures and exotic lovers till he finds himself right in the middle of an uncomfortably dangerous situation.
  • The Honorary Consul (1973) Tragedy. Dr Eduardo Plarr accidentally assists in the kidnapping of his friend, the alcoholic, bumbling ‘honorary consul’ to a remote city on the border of Argentina, Charley Fortnum, with whose ex-prostitute wife he happens to be having an affair. When he is asked to go and treat Fortnum, who’s been injured, Plarr finds himself also taken prisoner by the rebels and dragged into lengthy Greeneish discussions about love and religion and sin and redemption etc, while they wait for the authorities to either pay the ransom the rebels have demanded or storm their hideout. It doesn’t end well.
  • The Human Factor (1978) Maurice Castle lives a quiet, suburban life with his African wife, Sarah, commuting daily to his dull office job in a branch of British Security except that, we learn half way through the book, he is a double agent passing secrets to the Russians. Official checks on a leak from his sector lead to the improbable ‘liquidation’ of an entirely innocent colleague which prompts Castle to make a panic-stricken plea to his Soviet controllers to be spirited out of the country. And so he is, arriving safely in Moscow. But to the permanent separation with the only person he holds dear in the world and who he was, all along, working on behalf of – his beloved Sarah. Bleak and heart-breaking.
  • Monsignor Quixote (1982) Father Quixote is unwillingly promoted monsignor and kicked out of his cosy parish, taking to the roads of Spain with communist ex-mayor friend, Enrique ‘Sancho’ Zancas, in an old jalopy they jokingly nickname Rocinante, to experience numerous adventures loosely based on his fictional forebear, Don Quixote, all the while debating Greene’s great Victorian theme, the possibility of a doubting – an almost despairing – Catholic faith.
  • The Captain and The Enemy (1988) 12-year-old Victor Baxter is taken out of his boarding school by a ‘friend’ of his father’s, the so-called Captain, who carries him off to London to live with his girlfriend, Liza. Many years later Victor, a grown man, comes across his youthful account of life in this strange household when Liza dies in a road accident, and he sets off on an adult pilgrimage to find the Captain in Central America, a quest which – when he tells him of Liza’s death – prompts the old man to one last – futile and uncharacteristic – suicidal gesture.
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: