Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*London. Great Britain’s capital city, which faced the brunt of the heavy German air attacks in 1941. German chancellor Adolf Hitler launched the air attacks on Britain because he was afraid to risk ferrying his troops across the English Channel in open barges, subject to bombardment from ships, planes, and shore batteries and always in danger of hitting underwater mines. Instead, he gambled on Hermann Göring’s promise to force Britain to surrender through relentless bombing. London eventually became the prime target of the powerful German Luftwaffe. During the period the British called the “Blitz,” masses of German planes arrived every night on schedule. Air raid sirens would begin their mournful wailing, as if they were mourning the end of civilization. Londoners hurried to shelters carrying their bedding and valued possessions.

Up above the blacked-out city the sky was pierced with searchlights trying to pick out planes for the antiaircraft gunners to shoot at. When the bombs began to fall, the fire fighters would aim their hoses at the burning buildings, but the little streams of water seemed pitifully ineffective against the blazing chaos. In the morning, the Londoners would go off to work in their shops, offices, warehouses, and factories, trying to conduct business as usual, although every morning saw numbers of dead and wounded being trucked away in makeshift ambulances. It was the first time in history that the...

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(Great Characters in Literature)

Allott, Kenneth, and Miriam Farris. The Art of Graham Greene. New York: Russell, 1963. One of the first book-length studies of Greene and still one of the best. Views The Ministry of Fear in the terms of Greene’s obsessions with “the divided mind” or “the fallen world.”

Boardman, Gwenn R. Graham Greene: The Aesthetics of Exploration. Gainesville: University Presses of Florida, 1971. Sees the novel as “an ingenious parable on the nature of love.” The book is a commentary on the state of the world and “the mess that Western civilization” was in at the time.

Cuoto, Maria. Graham Greene: On the Frontier. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1988. An excellent discussion of the book’s complexities. Greene’s “artistry lies in breaking the mold of the thriller to integrate tragic and spiritual concerns.”

DeVitis, A. A. Graham Greene. Rev. ed. Edited by Kinley E. Roby. Boston: Twayne, 1986. An excellent starting point for a consideration of Greene’s work. Insightful chapter on the “entertainments” as opposed to the “novels.”

Wolfe, Peter. Graham Greene the Entertainer. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1972. Essential book-length study which chiefly addresses those works classified as “entertainments.” Devotes an entire chapter to The Ministry of Fear.