This collection features three classic novels that explore Graham Greene’s most important themes: Catholicism, international intrigue, and the never-ending struggle to know oneself. From West Africa to Vietnam to Mexico, these stories prove that “no serious writer of [the twentieth] century has more thoroughly invaded and shaped the public imagination than Graham Greene” (Time).
The Heart of the Matter: In a British colony of West Africa, Henry Scobie is a pious man of modest means charged with securing borders. But when he’s passed over for a promotion, the humiliation hits hard—for his wife. To make it up to her, Henry accepts a loan from a black marketeer to secure Louise’s passage out of Africa. His single indiscretion quickly leads him—one moral compromise after another—into a web of blackmail, adultery, and murder.
“A powerful, deep-striking novel . . . of a spirit lost in the darkness of the flesh.” —New York Herald Tribune
The Quiet American: Vietnam, 1955. British journalist Thomas Fowler is covering the insurgency against French colonial rule and doing what he can to protect his Vietnamese lover, Phuong. Alden Pyle of the CIA believes in bringing American democracy to Vietnam by any means necessary. But when his ideas of conquest come to include Phuong, pride, passion, and blind moral conviction collide with terrible consequences.
“A heartrending romance . . . Haunting and profound.” —All Things Considered, NPR
The Power and the Glory: In 1930s Tabasco, Mexico, Catholicism is being outlawed. As churches are razed and devotees are executed, a member of the clergy known only as the “whisky priest” flees. He now travels as one of the hunted—attending, in secret, to the spiritual needs of the faithful. When a peasant begs him to return to Tabasco to hear the confessions of a dying man, the whisky priest knows it’s a trap. But it’s also his duty—and possibly his salvation.
“A thriller—but also a novel of ideas . . . A book I would have simply died to write.” —Scott Turow, New York Times–bestselling author
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About the Author
Graham Greene (1904–1991) is recognized as one of the most important writers of the twentieth century, achieving both literary acclaim and popular success. His best known works include Brighton Rock, The Heart of the Matter, The Quiet American, and The Power and the Glory. After leaving Oxford, Greene first pursued a career in journalism before dedicating himself full-time to writing with his first big success, Stamboul Train. He became involved in screenwriting and wrote adaptations for the cinema as well as original screenplays, the most successful being The Third Man. Religious, moral, and political themes are at the root of much of his work, and throughout his life he traveled to some of the wildest and most volatile parts of the world, which provided settings for his fiction. Greene was a member of the Order of Merit and a Companion of Honour.
Date of Birth:October 2, 1904
Date of Death:April 3, 1991
Place of Birth:Berkhamsted, England
Place of Death:Vevey, Switzerland
Education:Balliol College, Oxford
Read an Excerpt
Wilson sat on the balcony of the Bedford Hotel with his bald pink knees thrust against the ironwork. It was Sunday and the Cathedral bell clanged for matins. On the other side of Bond Street, in the windows of the High School, sat the young negresses in dark-blue gym smocks engaged on the interminable task of trying to wave their wirespring hair. Wilson stroked his very young moustache and dreamed, waiting for his ginand-bitters.
Sitting there, facing Bond Street, he had his face turned to the sea. His pallor showed how recently he had emerged from it into the port: so did his lack of interest in the schoolgirls opposite. He was like the lagging finger of the barometer, still pointing to Fair long after its companion has moved to Stormy. Below him the black clerks moved churchward, but their wives in brilliant afternoon dresses of blue and cerise aroused no interest in Wilson. He was alone on the balcony except for one bearded Indian in a turban who had already tried to tell his fortune: this was not the hour or the day for white men — they would be at the beach five miles away, but Wilson had no car. He felt almost intolerably lonely. On either side of the school the tin roofs sloped towards the sea, and the corrugated iron above his head clanged and clattered as a vulture alighted.
Three merchant officers from the convoy in the harbour came into view, walking up from the quay. They were surrounded immediately by small boys wearing school caps. The boys' refrain came faintly up to Wilson like a nursery rhyme: 'Captain want jig jig, my sister pretty girl school-teacher, captain want jig jig.' The bearded Indian frowned over intricate calculations on the back of an envelope — a horoscope, the cost of living? When Wilson looked down into the street again the officers had fought their way free, and the schoolboys had swarmed again round a single able-seaman: they led him triumphantly away towards the brothel near the police station, as though to the nursery.
A black boy brought Wilson's gin and he sipped it very slowly because he had nothing else to do except to return to his hot and squalid room and read a novel — or a poem. Wilson liked poetry, but he absorbed it secretly, like a drug. The Golden Treasury accompanied him wherever he went, but it was taken at night in small doses — a finger of Longfellow, Macaulay, Mangan: 'Go on to tell how, with genius wasted, Betrayed in friendship, befooled in love ...' His taste was romantic. For public exhibition he had his Wallace. He wanted passionately to be indistinguishable on the surface from other men: he wore his moustache like a club tie — it was his highest common factor, but his eyes betrayed him — brown dog's eyes, a setter's eyes, pointing mournfully towards Bond Street.
'Excuse me,' a voice said, 'aren't you Wilson?' He looked up at a middle-aged man in the inevitable khaki shorts with a drawn face the colour of hay.
'Yes, that's me.'
'May I join you? My name's Harris.'
'Delighted, Mr Harris.'
'You're the new accountant at the U.A.C.?'
'That's me. Have a drink?'
'I'll have a lemon squash if you don't mind. Can't drink in the middle of the day.'
The Indian rose from his table and approached with deference, 'You remember me, Mr Harris. Perhaps you would tell your friend, Mr Harris, of my talents. Perhaps he would like to read my letters of recommendation ...' The grubby sheaf of envelopes was always in his hand. 'The leaders of society.'
'Be off. Beat it, you old scoundrel,' Harris said.
'How did you know my name?' Wilson asked.
'Saw it on a cable. I'm a cable censor,' Harris said. 'What a job! What a place!'
'I can see from here, Mr Harris, that your fortune has changed considerably. If you would step with me for a moment into the bathroom ...'
'Beat it, Gunga Din.'
'Why the bathroom?' Wilson asked.
'He always tells fortunes there. I suppose it's the only private room available. I never thought of asking why.'
'Been here long?'
'Eighteen bloody months.'
'Going home soon?'
Harris stared over the tin roofs towards the harbour. He said, 'The ships all go the wrong way. But when I do get home you'll never see me here again.' He lowered his voice and said with venom over his lemon squash, 'I hate the place. I hate the people. I hate the bloody niggers. Mustn't call 'em that you know.'
'My boy seems all right.'
'A man's boy's always all right. He's a real nigger — but these, look at 'em, look at that one with a feather boa down there. They aren't even real niggers. Just West Indians and they rule the coast. Clerks in the stores, city council, magistrates, lawyers — my God. It's all right up in the Protectorate. I haven't anything to say against a real nigger. God made our colours. But these — my God! The Government's afraid of them. The police are afraid of them. Look down there,' Harris said, 'look at Scobie.'
A vulture flapped and shifted on the iron roof and Wilson looked at Scobie. He looked without interest in obedience to a stranger's direction, and it seemed to him that no particular interest attached to the squat grey-haired man walking alone up Bond Street. He couldn't tell that this was one of those occasions a man never forgets: a small cicatrice had been made on the memory, a wound that would ache whenever certain things combined — the taste of gin at mid-day, the smell of flowers under a balcony, the clang of corrugated iron, an ugly bird flopping from perch to perch.
'He loves 'em so much,' Harris said, 'he sleeps with 'em.'
'Is that the police uniform?'
'It is. Our great police force. A lost thing will they never find — you know the poem.'
'I don't read poetry,' Wilson said. His eyes followed Scobie up the sun-drowned street. Scobie stopped and had a word with a black man in a white Panama: a black policeman passed by, saluting smartly. Scobie went on.
'Probably in the pay of the Syrians too if the truth were known.'
'This is the original Tower of Babel,' Harris said. 'West Indians, Africans, real Indians, Syrians, Englishmen, Scotsmen in the Office of Works, Irish priests, French priests, Alsatian priests.'
'What do the Syrians do?'
'Make money. They ran all the stores up country and most of the stores here. Run diamonds too.'
'I suppose there's a lot of that.'
'The Germans pay a high price.'
'Hasn't he got a wife here?'
'Who? Oh, Scobie. Rather. He's got a wife. Perhaps if I had a wife like that, I'd sleep with niggers too. You'll meet her soon. She's the city intellectual. She likes art, poetry. Got up an exhibition of arts for the shipwrecked seamen. You know the kind of thing — poems on exile by aircraftsmen, watercolours by stokers, pokerwork from the mission schools. Poor old Scobie. Have another gin?'
'I think I will,' said Wilson.
Scobie turned up James Street past the Secretariat. With its long balconies it had always reminded him of a hospital. For fifteen years he had watched the arrival of a succession of patients; periodically at the end of eighteen months certain patients were sent home, yellow and nervy, and others took their place — Colonial Secretaries, Secretaries of Agriculture, Treasurers and Directors of Public Works. He watched their temperature charts every one — the first outbreak of unreasonable temper, the drink too many, the sudden stand for principle after a year of acquiescence. The black clerks carried their bedside manner like doctors down the corridors; cheerful and respectful they put up with any insult. The patient was always right.
Round the corner, in front of the old cotton tree, where the earliest settlers had gathered their first day on the unfriendly shore, stood the law courts and police station, a great stone building like the grandiloquent boast of weak men. Inside that massive frame the human being rattled in the corridors like a dry kernel. No one could have been adequate to so rhetorical a conception. But the idea in any case was only one room deep. In the dark narrow passage behind, in the charge-room and the cells, Scobie could always detect the odour of human meanness and injustice — it was the smell of a zoo, of sawdust, excrement, ammonia, and lack of liberty. The place was scrubbed daily, but you could never eliminate the smell. Prisoners and policemen carried it in their clothing like cigarette smoke.
Scobie climbed the great steps and turned to his right along the shaded outside corridor to his room: a table, two kitchen chairs, a cupboard, some rusty handcuffs hanging on a nail like an old hat, a filing cabinet: to a stranger it would have appeared a bare uncomfortable room but to Scobie it was home. Other men slowly build up the sense of home by accumulation — a new picture, more and more books, an odd-shaped paper-weight, the ash-tray bought for a forgotten reason on a forgotten holiday; Scobie built his home by a process of reduction. He had started out fifteen years ago with far more than this. There had been a photograph of his wife, bright leather cushions from the market, an easy-chair, a large coloured map of the port on the wall. The map had been borrowed by younger men: it was of no more use to him; he carried the whole coastline of the colony in his mind's eye: from Kufa Bay to Medley was his beat. As for the cushions and the easy-chair, he had soon discovered how comfort of that kind down in the airless town meant heat. Where the body was touched or enclosed it sweated. Last of all his wife's photograph had been made unnecessary by her presence. She had joined him the first year of the phoney war and now she couldn't get away: the danger of submarines had made her as much a fixture as the handcuffs on the nail. Besides, it had been a very early photograph, and he no longer cared to be reminded of the unformed face, the expression calm and gentle with lack of knowledge, the lips parted obediently in the smile the photographer had demanded. Fifteen years form a face, gentleness ebbs with experience, and he was always aware of his own responsibility. He had led the way: the experience that had come to her was the experience selected by himself. He had formed her face.
He sat down at his bare table and almost immediately his Mende sergeant clicked his heels in the doorway. 'Sah?'
'Anything to report?'
'The Commissioner want to see you, sah.'
'Anything on the charge sheet?'
'Two black men fight in the market, sah.'
'Miss Wilberforce want to see you, sah. I tell her you was at church and she got to come back by-andby, but she stick. She say she no budge.'
'Which Miss Wilberforce is that, sergeant?'
'I don't know, sah. She come from Sharp Town, sah.'
'Well, I'll see her after the Commissioner. But no one else, mind.'
'Very good, sah.'
Scobie, passing down the passage to the Commissioner's room, saw the girl sitting alone on a bench against the wall: he didn't look twice: he caught only the vague impression of a young black African face, a bright cotton frock, and then she was already out of his mind, and he was wondering what he should say to the Commissioner. It had been on his mind all that week.
'Sit down, Scobie.' The Commissioner was an old man of fifty-three — one counted age by the years a man had served in the colony. The Commissioner with twenty-two years' service was the oldest man there, just as the Governor was a stripling of sixty compared with any district officer who had five years' knowledge behind him.
'I'm retiring, Scobie,' the Commissioner said, 'after this tour.'
'I suppose everyone knows.'
'I've heard the men talking about it.'
'And yet you are the second man I've told. Do they say who's taking my place?' Scobie said, 'They know who isn't.'
'It's damned unfair,' the Commissioner said. 'I can do nothing more than I have done, Scobie. You are a wonderful man for picking up enemies. Like Aristides the Just.'
'I don't think I'm as just as all that.'
'The question is what do you want to do? They are sending a man called Baker from Gambia. He's younger than you are. Do you want to resign, retire, transfer, Scobie?'
'I want to stay,' Scobie said.
'Your wife won't like it.'
'I've been here too long to go.' He thought to himself, poor Louise, if I had left it to her, where should we be now? and he admitted straight away that they wouldn't be here — somewhere far better, better climate, better pay, better position. She would have taken every opening for improvement: she would have steered agilely up the ladders and left the snakes alone. I've landed her here he thought, with the odd premonitory sense of guilt he always felt as though he were responsible for something in the future he couldn't even foresee. He said aloud, 'You know I like the place.'
'I believe you do. I wonder why.'
'It's pretty in the evening,' Scobie said vaguely.
'Do you know the latest story they are using against you at the Secretariat?'
'I suppose I'm in the Syrians' pay?'
'They haven't got that far yet. That's the next stage. No, you sleep with black girls. You know what it is, Scobie, you ought to have flirted with one of their wives. They feel insulted.'
'Perhaps I ought to sleep with a black girl. Then they won't have to think up anything else.'
'The man before you slept with dozens,' the Commissioner said, 'but it never bothered anyone. They thought up something different for him. They said he drank secretly. It made them feel better drinking publicly. What a lot of swine they are, Scobie.'
'The Chief Assistant Colonial Secretary's not a bad chap.'
'No, the Chief Assistant Colonial Secretary's all right.' The Commissioner laughed. 'You're a terrible fellow, Scobie. Scobie the Just.'
Scobie returned down the passage; the girl sat in the dusk. Her feet were bare: they stood side by side like casts in a museum: they didn't belong to the bright smart cotton frock. 'Are you Miss Wilberforce?' Scobie asked.
'You don't live here, do you?'
'No! I live in Sharp Town, sir.'
'Well, come in.' He led the way into his office and sat down at his desk. There was no pencil laid out and he opened his drawer. Here and here only had objects accumulated: letters, india-rubbers, a broken rosary — no pencil. 'What's the trouble, Miss Wilberforce?' His eye caught a snapshot of a bathing party at Medley Beach: his wife, the Colonial Secretary's wife, the Director of Education holding up what looked like a dead fish, the Colonial Treasurer's wife. The expanse of white flesh made them look like a gathering of albinos, and all the mouths gaped with laughter.
The girl said, 'My landlady — she broke up my home last night. She come in when it was dark, and she pull down all the partition, an' she thieve my chest with all my belongings.'
'You got plenty lodgers?'
'Only three, sir.'
He knew exactly how it all was: a lodger would take a one-roomed shack for five shillings a week, stick up a few thin partitions and let the so-called rooms for half a crown a piece — a horizontal tenement. Each room would be furnished with a box containing a little china and glass 'dashed' by an employer or stolen from an employer, a bed made out of old packing-cases, and a hurricane lamp. The glass of these lamps did not long survive, and the little open flames were always ready to catch some spilt paraffin; they licked at the plywood partitions and caused innumerable fires. Sometimes a landlady would thrust her way into her house and pull down the dangerous partitions, sometimes she would steal the lamps of her tenants, and the ripple of her theft would go out in widening rings of lamp thefts until they touched the European quarter and became a subject of gossip at the club. 'Can't keep a lamp for love or money.'
'Your landlady,' Scobie told the girl sharply, 'she say you make plenty trouble: too many lodgers: too many lamps.'
'No, sir. No lamp palaver.'
'Mammy palaver, eh? You bad girl?'
'Why you come here? Why you not call Corporal Laminah in Sharp Town?'
'He my landlady's brother, sir.'
'He is, is he? Same father same mother?'
'No, sir. Same father.'
The interview was like a ritual between priest and server. He knew exactly what would happen when one of his men investigated the affair. The landlady would say that she had told her tenant to pull down the partitions and when that failed she had taken action herself. She would deny that there had ever been a chest of china. The corporal would confirm this. He would turn out not to be the landlady's brother, but some other unspecified relation — probably disreputable. Bribes — which were known respectably as dashes — would pass to and fro, the storm of indignation and anger that had sounded so genuine would subside, the partitions would go up again, nobody would hear any more about the chest, and several policemen would be a shilling or two the richer. At the beginning of his service Scobie had flung himself into these investigations; he had found himself over and over again in the position of a partisan, supporting as he believed the poor and innocent tenant against the wealthy and guilty houseowner. But he soon discovered that the guilt and innocence were as relative as the wealth. The wronged tenant turned out to be also the wealthy capitalist, making a profit of five shillings a week on a single room, living rent free herself. After that he had tried to kill these cases at birth: he would reason with the complainant and point out that the investigation would do no good and undoubtedly cost her time and money; he would sometimes even refuse to investigate. The result of that inaction had been stones flung at his car window, slashed tyres, the nickname of the Bad Man that had stuck to him through all one long sad tour — it worried him unreasonably in the heat and damp; he couldn't take it lightly. Already he had begun to desire these people's trust and affection. That year he had blackwater fever and was nearly invalided from the service altogether.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Collected Novels Volume Two"
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Table of Contents
THE HEART OF THE MATTER,
THE QUIET AMERICAN,
THE POWER AND THE GLORY,
About the Author,