Our Man Everywhere: Reading and Watching Graham Greene

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Novelist, playwright, journalist, film critic, intelligence agent, war correspondent: as manifold as the list of Graham Greene’s professions is his literary output and his variety of topics and settings. Greene (1904-1991) saw most of the 20th century and he saw most of the world, being especially fascinated by political hotspots in Central America, Africa or Indochina. Therefore, despite his manifest Englishness, his settings range from Mexico to Vietnam or from Vienna to Sierra Leone – something which is of special interest against the background of the decline and end of the British Empire in the century he chronicled. The range of recurrent themes in Greene’s works has often been subsumed as the ”human condition”. At the heart of his conflicts – political, ideological, religious or personal – are questions of betrayal, faith, guilt and identity. But Greene is not only one of the 20th century's most interesting novelists; he was also an important film critic and theoretician, and there is hardly a writer whose works have been so frequently borrowed from for film adaptations. The latest one, a remake of Brighton Rock, will come to German cinemas in early 2011. In this seminar, we will try to explore the writer through four short novels and their respective film versions.

Required Reading:

  • Greene, Graham. 1938. Brighton Rock.
  • Greene, Graham. 1955. The Quiet American.
  • Greene, Graham. 1958. Our Man in Havana.
  • Greene, Graham. 1980. Dr Fischer of Geneva or The Bomb Party.

Course requirements will be discussed in the first session. Film screenings will take place on Tuesdays right after class.