Historical Context

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Modernist Period in English Literature
The modernist period in English literature began in 1914 with the onset of World War I and extended through 1965. It is a literary period that reflects the nation's wartime experiences (World War I and World War II), the emerging British talent of the 1920s, and the economic depression of the 1930s. Toward the end of the period, literature and art demonstrated the nation's growing uncertainty, which became especially pronounced after World War II; this uncertainty would give way to hostility and protest in the postmodernist period.

During the early years of the modernist period, the foremost writers were English novelists E. M. Forster Joseph Conrad Ford Madox Ford Virginia Woolf and Somerset Maugham. One of the major accomplishments of this period came from Ireland with the publication of James Joyce's Ulysses, a work that continues to be respected as a masterpiece of twentieth-century literature. In the 1920s and 1930s, the novels of D. H. Lawrence and Evelyn Waugh were harshly critical of modern society, an attitude shared by many English men and women of the day. In the 1930s and 1940s, novelists such as Greene wrote traditional fiction that was well-crafted enough both to stand up to innovative fiction of the day and to gain a wide and loyal audience.

Many writers of this period (Greene included) were born at the turn of the century, near the end of the Victorian era. These writers were reared in an...

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Literary Style

First-Person Narrator
Bendrix narrates in first-person for most of the story, acknowledging that he alone holds the...

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Literary Techniques

By providing the central narrative through the emotional voice of Bendrix, Greene offers his first attempt at using first-person narration in...

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Ideas for Group Discussions

Although well recognized for his Catholic themes, Greene's novels contain many universal qualities as well. His interest in how major life...

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Social Concerns

Perhaps more ostensibly than any other of his novels, Greene firmly establishes himself as a writer interested in religious faith while at...

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Bibliography and Further Reading

Bawer, Bruce, "Graham Greene: The Catholic Novels," in the New Criterion, Vol. 8, No. 2, October...

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(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

Allain, Marie-Franioise. The Other Man: Conversations with Graham

Greene, 1983. Greene, Graham. Ways of Escape: An Autobiography, 1980.

Kelly, Richard. Graham Greene, 1984.

Lodge, David. Graham Greene, 1966.

Spurling, John. Graham Greene, 1983.

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Compare and Contrast

1940s: The Catholic Church still forbids cremation as a means of disposing of a dead body. Catholics are buried in the...

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Topics for Further Study

People in frightening situations often bargain with God, promising to become better people in return for divine favor in the situation. Sarah...

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Literary Precedents

Notes and letters indicate that Greene had studied Charles Dickens's use of first person narration in Great Expectations, as well as...

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Related Titles

The End of the Affair is generally regarded as the last of Greene's Catholic writings period, until he returned to it in the early...

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In 1999, Neil Jordan wrote the screenplay and directed the film by Columbia Pictures. In much the same role as he played in the award-winning...

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Media Adaptations

In 1955, The End of the Affair was adapted to film by Columbia Pictures. This production was directed by Edward Dmytryk and starred...

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What Do I Read Next?

Greene acknowledged that he admired Ford Madox Ford's The Good Soldier: A Tale of Passion (1915) and read it repeatedly. Critics...

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