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|Graham Greene (1904–1991)|
The Novel "The Quiet American" by Gr. Greene
I. Read the text and do the assignments following it.
Few writers have provoked such contradictory assessments during their lifetime as Graham Greene. A broad sweep of literary ancestors have been summoned up to explain his style and thought, from those acknowledged by Greene himself, such as Conrad and James, to Dostoevsky, Kafka, the 19th century Decadents, the French Catholic novelists and more recently even the French Existentialists. This mesh of literary cross-judgements has been woven out of Greene's peculiar contradictory development, for he is a Catholic whose books, and particularly his religious novels have earned him an international reputation rare among contemporary English writers.
Born in 1904, the son of G.H. Greene, the Headmaster of an English public school, Greene was given a conventional middle-class upbringing. Later in Balliol College, Oxford, he read history for three years. It was at the end of his Oxford career, in 1925, that he published a collection of poems "Babbling April." For the most part these are imitative of the Oxford aestheticism of the 1920s.
After leaving Oxford, Greene worked as a journalist for four years, first in Nottingham and later as a subeditor of "The Times" in London. So he reached maturity and independence as a writer at the start of the 1930s.
Green has roamed the world from Vietnam to West Africa, Latin America and Haiti. Using these places as setting for his stories, he shows protagonists caught up in malignant circumstances. For example, in "A Burnt-Out Case"1(1961) an architect, repelled by modern life, attemps to lose himself in a leper colony deep in Africa and to purge all human desires and contacts.
Graham Greene himself divides his novels into two main groups: "serious" novels and novels of "entertainment." As "serious" he himself considers the following: "The Man Within"2 (1929), "It's a Battlefield" (1934), "England Made Me"3 (1936), "The Heart of the Matter"4 (1948); these books are marked with pessimism and disillusion. For instance, "England Made Me" is a deep pessimistic novel and "The Heart of the Matter" is a novel about the fate of a well-meaning man who commits suicide to get out of the blind alley of the moral problems he had been trying to solve.
An exciting and violent plot is characteristic for the second kind of novel. The novels of "entertainment" are "Stamboul Train" (1932), "The Confidential Agent"5 (1939), "Our Man in Havana"6 (1958) and others. But these novels of "entertainment" are quite different from ordinary detective "thrillers. " There is one trait always present in his books, which singles Greene out of commonplace detective story writers – his humanism, the deep psychological analysis of his heroes and a very thoughtful attitude to the burning political problems of the day. "Our Man in Havana" is a social and political satire. In both serious and adventure detective stories. We see the ambiguities of moral judgment and intensely human crises of faith. In "The Quiet American"7 (1955) Green unfolds a theme in which stupidity, hypocrisy and ambition play their sorry parts. It is suggested that on this ocassion Green, turning from his favourite theme of religion and sacrifice, has substituted certain problems of morality. But it would be unfair to describe the purpose of the book as a problem novel. It is full of problems, but they emerge as part of the life which is so energetically, vividy, frankly offered for our inspection. It is Graham Green at his best.
1. "A Burnt-Out Case" – «Ценой потери»
2. "The Man Within" – «Человек внутри»
3. "England Made Me" – «Меня создала Англия»
4. "The Heart of the Matter" – «Суть дела»
5. "A Confidential Agent" – «Доверенное лицо»
6. "Our Man in Havana" – «Наш человек в Гаване»
7. "The Quiet American" – «Тихий американец»
II. Translate the following word combinations from into Russian and rise them in sentences of your own:
to provoke contradictory assessments, literary ancestors, literary cross-judgements, peculiar contradictory development, religious novels, to earn smb an international reputation, to give a conventional middle-class upbringing, to reach maturity and independence as a writer, to roam, a protagonist, to repel, to purge, entertainment, to be marked with pessimism, to solve problems, an exciting and violent plot, detective thrillers, a deep psychological analysis, ambiguity, to unfold a theme, to substitute.
III. Answer the following questions:
1. Why has Graham Greene provoked such a contradictory assessment?
2. What earned him an international reputation?
3. What education did Gr. Greene get?
4. When and how did he reach maturity as a writer?
5. How does he show his main heroes?
6. Into what two groups does he divide his novels?
7. The novels of "entertainment" are different from ordinary detective "thrillers," aren't they?
8. What are both genres characteristic of?
9. Why is Gr. Greene's "The Quiet American" so popular with the reading public?
IV. Read the text and render it in English. Concentrate on:
1. The composition of the novel.
2. The image of Pyle, the quiet American.
Graham Greene gained recognition as a big writer with the appearance of his "The Quiet American." By composition "The Quiet American" is a first-person story told by one Fowler, an English correspondent. In the course of the story the reader witnesses Fowler's transformation from a passive and impassive on-looker into one who can't help giving a hand to the patriots of Vietnam. Thus, with Fowler's help Pyle is physically removed.
Pyle is one of the US pioneer spies in Vietnam. Pyle's image is drawn with great truth and skill. He is the "quiet" American who even wins the reader's sympathy at first. He is young, strong, handsome, genial and... kind-hearted, which does not stop him, in the long run, from committing a great crime against the Vietnamese people. With Pyle out of the game, Fowler and Phuong (his girlfriend) come to an understanding again, and Fowler will be happy if only he can do away with the restlessness that never seems to leave him...
V. Translate the following text into Russian in writing.
Greene would characterize himself as a realist and a religious writer, not in the sense of a Francois Mauriac, the French Catholic novelist who admired him and who has been often cited as a major influence, but in a Jamesian sense. "After the death of Henry James a disaster overtook the English novel," Greene wrote in a 1945 essay on Mauriac. "For with the death of James the religious sense was lost to the English novel, and with the religious sense went the sense of the importance of the human act. It was as the world of fiction had lost a dimension." That dimension was something that Greene, much more recently, called a "ruling passion" that gives to a shelf of novels the unity of a system. No matter how extraordinary, he adds, talent cannot alone sustain an achievement.
From his journeys to Liberia and Mexico early in his career, when he missed that "terrible aboriginal calamity" to his present elder literary statesman's retreat at Antibes on the French Riviera (where he recently spoke without irony of failure, boredom, loneliness, and emptiness as the writer's most dependable allies), Greene has exhibited a world-weariness that he offsets – and then, only temporarily – by another vouage, the next book.
As a novelist, Greene's rulling passion has been an awareness of man's aboriginal corruption. His characters cannot dismiss that sense at the heart of things that life has no meaning, that life cheats when original sin is blurred. And this endless burrowing, for the corruption within testifies to Greene's battle as a novelist for the survival of consciousness. As a kind of English Dostoevski, Greene directs his characters to relentless probes within themselves for that deepest level of corruption known to the underground man, that aspect that he can only with the most agonizing difficulty acknowledge to himself.
(From "Dictionary of Literary Biography " Volume Fifteen)
VI. Find English equivalents to the following word combinations and render the text in English:
создать свой особый жанр; его внимание было сосредоточено на; иметь местом действия; горячие точки планеты; иметь огромную читательскую публику (зарубежную); по политическим мотивам.
Greene first came to the notice of the literary world with his novels of 1930s, such as "Brighton" (1938). With such books he introduced his characteristic genre, the thriller with theological and moral significance. At this period his attention was focused on English life and English types, as in "England Made Me" (1935), one of his best novels, though now rather neglected by critics. But after "The Power and the Glory" (1940), set in Mexico, which many think his best novel, Greene rarely returns to the English scene. His stories are usually set in some foreign political storm centre. "The Quiet American" (1956), for example, was written before what Americans think of as "the Vietnam war." He has a huge international readership, and has been taken seriously as a moralist and theologian, as well as a romancer and a sort ofsuperreporter. That he has not been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature can only be due to political reasons.
(From "English Literature" by W.W.Robson)
VII. Render the following text into English using the given key words:
collected stories, illustrated editions, to try one's hand at, sketch, narrative works, subtitle, serious motives, to be devoted to, acute problems, political themes, to be combined with, adventure motives, delicate psychologism, to fascinate, fictitious plot, vividly, to represent, to learn a lesson from, in smb's opinion, to go deep into, experience, to make psychological analysis.
Грэм Грин начал со стихов, затем перешел к прозе, написал восемнадцать романов, выпустил несколько сборников рассказов, делал тексты к иллюстрированным изданиям для детей, пробовал силы в драме; напечатал очерки о совершенных им путешествиях и много статей по разным вопросам. Всего им издано около тридцати книг.
Свои повествовательные произведения сам Грин делит на две группы. Часть написанных им книг носит подзаголовок «развлечения», другие, которые сам автор считает более серьезными, он обозначает привычным определением «роман». Надо, однако, сказать, что развлекательные элементы имеются в серьезных романах Грина, а в его «развлечениях» встречаются серьезные мотивы.
Широко известные у нас романы «Тихий американец» и «Наш человек в Гаване» посвящены острым проблемам современности. Читатели, знакомые с этими произведениями, знают, что политическая тематика сочетается в них с авантюрными мотивами и с тонким психологизмом.
...Грин умеет увлекать занимательными описаниями, без помощи какой-либо выдуманной фабулы, как это имеет место в его путевых очерках. Он привлекает наше внимание к тому или иному человеческому типу, живо представив характер своего героя.
В своих книгах Грин приглашает читателя поразмыслить вместе с ним над теми уроками, которые можно извлечь из отдельных человеческих судеб.
К числу книг, посвященных раздумьям о жизни, относится роман «Суть дела». По мнению многих английских критиков, «Суть дела» – лучший психологический роман Грина. Грин глубоко вникает во все тонкости переживаний, мыслей и чувств своих героев и даже порой занимается психоанализом.
(А.Аникст. Послесловие к роману «Суть дела»)
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