April 08, 2012

Entertaining Mr Greene

I've started reading Graham Greene's The Ministry of Fear, one of his so-called 'entertainments' (as opposed to his serious works, I suppose).

I'm reminded very much of Conrad's The Secret Agent so far. I think it's the prosaic nature of the London life described by both Greene and Conrad, together with the larger-than-life characters who are Hitchcockian in their secrecy and the sense of foreboding that they bring. It's something to do with the way they say one thing while seeming to imply another, as if their personalities, if not their whole lives, are simply a front that you're supposed to take at face value without questioning what goes on behind. In the case of both of these books, that's rather true in that they're both about conspiracies in which 'ordinary' people are involved - again, as in many of Hitchcock's films.

I've just remembered that when I was at Sussex University I took an option and studied Conrad under Professor Cedric Watts. At the time, he was helping Norman Sherry research and write his multi-volumed biography of Greene. And looking at Sherry's books on Amazon I see that he's actually edited many of Conrad's books. So perhaps there's more similarities between Conrad and Greene than I had thought ... Hmm, I feel a learned paper coming on ... quick, nurse, the screens ...

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