Regions of the Mind: the Exoticism of Greeneland

Andrew Purssell

Royal Holloway, University of London



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Julian Symons contends that Graham Greene “has often been praised for the quality of his observation, but this lies in the creation of an atmosphere appropriate to period, place and character rather than in what things actually look like[1]. Symons’s incisive comment certainly applies to Greene’s recurrent use of exotic landscapes in his novels. Landscape - a term signifying not simply a natural or man-made background, but “the interplay between human perceptions, ideological structures, and external terrain”[2] - provides an incisive means to interpret two of Greene’s mid-career novels. Linked by their use of exotic locales, Greene deftly configures the represented landscapes of The Quiet American (1955), and A Burnt-Out Case (1960) across a spectrum of geographical, bodily, emotional, textual, and ideological terrains.[3]


He chose the Oriental to do it in, the dreary smoky little night club that stands behind a sham Eastern façade.[4]


The Vietnam of QA hardly presents “a sham Eastern façade”, but is vividly evoked as the factual geo-political space in which Greene lived and worked during the collapse of French colonialism in Indo-China. The geographical locales represented correspond to actual places outside the fiction; Fowler is out there, telling us of a real place. Similarly, Greene’s experiences of those places correlate with Fowler’s - such as the trip north to Phat Diem, and the bombing raid “[n]ear Lai Chau” (148), or indeed, the psychotropic realm that opium provided, with which Greene fell in love.[5] In Ways of Escape (1980) Greene protests that the fictional locales of his novels are grounded in the factuality of experience: “‘[t]his is Indo-China,’ I want to exclaim, ‘this is Mexico, this is Sierra Leone carefully and accurately described.’”.[6] As John Spurling appeals, the topography of Greeneland possesses a tangible realism: “Greeneland is real. No European writer since Conrad has put the hot, poor and foully governed places of the earth on paper as vividly as Greene”.[7] Yet despite the topographical - not to mention the historical - accuracy of its setting,[8] the reader cannot help but see QA through the veil of a prior literary cartography. Consciously or not, Greene draws upon and extends a tradition of Western literary representation, which features and constructs the Orient. As Edward Said maps out in his influential work Orientalism: Western Conceptions Of The Orient (1978), this tradition is extensive in both terms of its history and influence: “[t]he European imagination was nourished extensively from this repertoire [of prior Oriental representations]: between the Middle Ages and the eighteenth century such major authors as Ariosto, Milton, Marlowe, Tasso, Shakespeare, [and] Cervantes [,] drew on the Orient’s riches for their productions, in ways that sharpened the outlines of imagery, ideas, and figures populating it”.[9]


Sara Suleri says that E.M. Forster’s A Passage To India “transforms the locality of an historic space into a vast introspective question mark”.[10] This is germane to Greene’s novel, which subtly interrogates Vietnam as an historic space whose “locality” is the imaginative space of the Occident, as much as it is part of the physical geography of the Far East.  QA is not simply about Vietnam; it is, more accurately, about the representation of Vietnam, one which participates in and is subsumed by a wider history of Orientalist representation. Confronting Pyle with Indo-China’s complex political geography, Fowler memorably dismisses the notional: “Isms and ocracies. Give me facts” (95). Notwithstanding his desire for facts (as opposed to isms), Fowler’s narrative is replete with Orientalism.  The text as a whole is a product of Orientalism, in that it inevitably re-produces those Orientalist discourses which inform its composition. Said here imparts the disjunction between the Western concept of the Orient and the geographical, cultural actuality that is the Orient - and the extent to which the former inevitably displaces the latter, with regard to its representation: “The apparent veracity of a written statement about the Orient […] relies very little […] on […] any such real thing as “the Orient””.[11] Orientalism is inseparable from the Western culture that produces it, rather than abiding in its putative object - the Orient - which was also produced by the West. So though the text is set and was written in Vietnam, its semiotic structure responds more to Western concepts.


This is perhaps typified best by the figure of the “Annamite woman” (12). Phuong initially seems to appeal to internalised gendered norms of the domestic angel. Fowler casts her as, “the hiss of steam, the clink of a cup, […] a certain hour of the night and the promise of rest” (12). (The fact that Fowler has “shut [his] eyes” in order to conjure this scene emphasises the fact that this woman resonates more as an idealised mental image than as a physical entity.) But Phuong is, of course, doubly Other - both female and Oriental. Her body is as much a site for the localisation of racial discourses as it is for gendered norms (conversely, geographers have a predilection for discussing topographies in gendered - specifically feminine - terms). The representation of Phuong evidences an intertwining of landscape and racial imagery, embodying the notional existence of the exotic which lies at the heart of Orientalist discourse. Phuong is lightly sketched as an allegorical representation of what the West has done (and is doing) to her country, within the political context of colonialism, and the wider discursive context of Orientalism. She is sexualised and rapacious, to be possessed and passed around between the declining colonial power of Europe (which the decrepit Fowler represents), and the nascent imperialist, politically virginal America (Pyle, whose death in the mud has, with hindsight, come to symbolically prefigure the political quagmire that America later found itself in). As Norman Sherry observes, “[t]he original meaning of the name Saigon was ‘gift to the foreigner’”.[12] The characterisation of Phuong demonstrates a tautology central to Orientalism, in that she embodies the idea of the submissive, yielding Orient; that the Orient is represented to be submissive enables discourse about it. (Said calls this a “pattern of strength”.)[13] In other words, the representation of Phuong as subaltern and submissive is intimately bound with the racial (and racist) imagery produced by Orientalism, upon which colonialism drew in order to legitimise its very existence.


The fact that the linguistic ground on which Phuong and Fowler communicate is French is apt, for she is constructed (as is the architecture of Saigon) along French lines. Fowler seems to imagine her through a paradigm of the Oriental woman that is provided by the French writer Gustave Flaubert, in his novel Salammbô (1862).  As Said usefully notes: “Flaubert’s encounter with [that is, Kuchuk Hanem] produced a widely influential model of the Oriental woman; she never spoke of herself, she never represented her emotions, presence or history”.[14] Phuong can be seen as an extension of Flaubert’s model. Indeed, with regard to speech and emotions, Phuong does “not have the gift of expression” (134), and is thus denied any qualitative subjectivity. Fowler remarks that, “[o]ne always spoke of her […] in the third person as though she were not there. Sometimes she seemed invisible like peace” (44). As far as Fowler is concerned, Phuong is part of the dramatic backcloth, in that her body provides a site upon which to re-inscribe pre-established Western romanticised assumptions of the region (and white, paternal constructs of Oriental women). This is perhaps best emblematised when, through the white opiate haze, Fowler associates Phuong with her native landscape: “I had seen the flowers on her dress beside the canals in the north, she was indigenous like a herb, and I never wanted to go home” (14).  Phuong figuratively melds into the scenery. Moreover, because of her childlike innocence and because what she feels for Fowler is not what the Western mind would recognise as “love”, their relationship seems to exist outside Occidental post-lapsarian certainties of physical and emotional decay:

“But she loves you, doesn’t she?”

“Not like that. It isn’t in their nature. You’ll find that out. It’s a cliché to call them children - but there’s one thing which is childish. They love you in return for kindness, security […]. They don’t know what it’s like - walking into a room and loving a stranger. For an aging man, Pyle, it’s very secure - she won’t run away from home so long as the home is happy.” (104; my emphasis)



Here Fowler speaks with the authority and experience of an inherited, colonialist mental make-up, befitting the fact that he is the representing subject who writes (and is thus superior to) the represented Other. Whilst recognising and affirming gendered difference, Fowler’s speech elides national difference by making Phuong inseparable from other national peoples whom the Occident brands as Oriental. Phuong’s difference is flattened by the word “they” - a collective third-person catch-all that erases the geo-cultural specificity of her origin, and makes her inextricable from a generic Other. Fowler at least seems partly cognisant of the problems of representation, when he says, “I knew I was inventing a character…” (133). Nevertheless, because “[o]ne never knows another human being” (133-134), representation is his only recourse. Fowler says that, “[t]o take an Annamite woman to bed with you is like taking a bird: they twitter and sing on your pillow” (12). The Oriental woman is reductively portrayed as offering “a libertine, less guilt-ridden sex outside a social and moral formation”;[15] this no doubt augments her (and the Orient’s) appeal. However, though Phuong is sexually available to him, she also prepares the drug that nullifies desire. As such, Phuong enables Fowler to transcend sex, while simultaneously eschewing her objectification as a sex object; indeed, “by the time [he] ha[s] drawn the opium in, her presence or absence matter[s] very little” (14). Fowler’s opium addiction betrays his desire to retreat into a solipsistic bower (a similarly insular impulse conditions BC, to be discussed). Thus his longing for the otherworldly, psychotropic terrain of the mind overrides any sexual desire for the corporeal space(s) of the Other.


In his seminal philosophical tract, The Poetics of Space, Gaston Bachelard expounds the “titanic importance of setting”. Setting, he postulates, “is often the armature around which the work revolves”; moreover, “its rightful place [is] alongside character and plot”.[16] For Greene, setting is not merely an inert spatial backdrop to the temporal workings of plot, but is inextricable from the overarching semiotic structure by which the reader receives his text(s). The spaces within the novel do not necessarily represent essential attributes of this or that location; rather, they are shifting attributes, dependent on the perspective or frame of mind of Fowler, who directs and is the locus of the narrative focalisation. The exterior world that Fowler represents in the first-person is inevitably coloured “by [his] view of life projected onto it”,[17] and thereby constitutes a psychic topography, one which reflects the vicissitudes of his mind. In the calm of the watchtower by the road, for example, Fowler finds that the “starlight is alive and never still [,] as though someone in those vast spaces is trying to communicate a message of good will” (98). After the relative calm is shattered by the violent intrusion of the Vietminh, Fowler looks up at that same nightscape to “see only […] a foreign cipher which I couldn’t read”, concluding that, “these were not the stars of home” (112). Broadly-speaking, the beleaguered Saigon is a spatial illustration of his beleaguered psyche. Fowler is only too aware of the human tendency to invest exterior spaces with the machinations of inner, psychic spaciousness: “Rooms don’t change, ornaments stand where you place them: only the heart decays” (170). Rather than providing a neutral background to the action, then, exterior spaces are indexical of Fowler’s personal situation, or what he perceives that situation to be.


However, it is difficult to isolate Fowler’s personalised spatiality as a mark of his individuation, for it co-mingles with - and is subsumed by - Western constructions of the Orient. His personal context, in other words, is part of a wider cultural one. Edward Said demonstrates that part of the appeal of the Orient is that it represents - or is represented to be - “an unchanging” human and physical geography.[18]Such a feature of the Orient pervades Greene’s novel. Fowler opines that, “[i]n five hundred years there may be no New York or London, but they’ll be growing paddy in these fields, they’ll be carrying their produce to the market on the long poles wearing their pointed hats” (95). Vietnam is represented throughout as culturally and historically backward; much in the same way that Vietnam is geographically (though not synaesthetically) dislocated from Europe, so too is it dismembered from history. Fowler, whose body is “a wasting asset” (102), an ever-present memento mori, inevitably finds this quality of temporal suspension appealing. (Conversely, the London he escapes evokes the sterility of, “old age, an editor’s chair, [and] loneliness” (111).) Moreover, because Fowler does not believe in God, his body is a reminder of the finitude of existence. He therefore has a vested interest in maintaining the representation of the Orient as a space wherein time’s passing does not register.


Greene picks up the atheistic strand left over from The End Of The Affair (1951); the Vietnam of QA realises Bendrix’s plea for a deus absconditus. This is a profoundly irreligious represented world, as Vigot’s attention to the materialist philosopher Pascal attests (16). God, as far as Fowler is concerned, is a construct: “no human being will ever understand another, not a wife a husband, a lover a mistress, nor a parent a child[.] Perhaps that’s why men have invented God - a being capable of understanding” (60). Alan Friedman reasons that, “[t]he longing to get life over with, in order then to get on with it, is Greene’s defining note”.[19] Though this analysis is true of Scobie (who bemoans life’s prolixity), when applied to the situation which Fowler perceives himself to be in, it could not be further from the truth. Believing only in the certainty of death, rather than life beyond it, Fowler instead “long[s] for permanence” in the corporeal world (44). The certainty of death is accentuated by the narrative structure; the novel begins with death and then circles back to that originating end, as if this were the only possible teleology.


The Greeneian geography of Vietnam evinces a different tone to the labyrinthine Mexico of The Power And The Glory (1940), or the oppressive Freetown of The Heart Of The Matter (1948). With regard to these two earlier texts, the spatial settings seem circumscribed and inescapable, thereby complementing and underlining the ineluctable situations that the Priest and Scobie countenance. Fowler’s relation to his setting is different; various forces conspire to expel him, but he wants to remain. Despite (and indeed, because of) its abiding danger, Vietnam is likeable - so much so that Fowler finds that “[his] home had shifted its ground eight thousand miles” (25), from the drudgery of London life. Indeed, the London that was once the source of nostalgia, now serves a dialectical function; it is a dreary background against which the lyrical Otherness of Vietnam can be quantified, in terms of its beauty and the excitement it provides. Fowler’s longing for “the 73 bus passing the portico of Euston and springtime in the local in Torrington Place” (25), is soon displaced by the desire for “a day punctuated by those quick reports that might be car-exhausts or might be grenades”, and “the sight of those silk-trousered figures moving with grace through the humid noon” (25). Fowler is able to view Vietnam as “home” because it is a space already made familiar to him by Orientalism. Similarly, those Paradisal qualities manifest in Fowler’s representation of Vietnam, are perhaps due to Orientalism’s investment in the concept of an Earthly Paradise located in the Far East. The geography that matters, as Cates Baldridge puts it, “is not one of latitude and longitude, but one of elevation above the dull plains of a mediated, bourgeois existence”.[20]


Vietnam may be “the real background that [holds] you as a smell does” (25), but is not without its set of problems. Though Fowler considers himself authorised by his superior age and experience to understand Phuong and her culture, there remains a qualitative cultural dissonance. Fowler does not (nor does he wish to) understand the ramifications of Phuong’s recourse to silence, inferring instead that “she [does] not have the gift of expression” (134). The silence which represents “the measure of [Fowler’s] uncertainty” (115), is to an extent also enabling, in that it allows him to read into it what he wants. But Phuong also functions to throw into relief the extent to which he feels an outsider; for though he may be in an environment that he loves, he is not of that world. Wittingly or not, Fowler is a twentieth-century Orientalist, sympathetic to, but outside of the East he confronts in an essentially hermeneutical relation.[21] Though in the Orient, Fowler’s knowledge of that space, its people and customs was produced in the West, so there will always be this cultural barrier - aside from the linguistic one - to his acculturation. Because of this, the novel’s close has tragic resonance. Fowler’s political involvement is, in the final analysis, presented as his humanisation. Gordon O’Taylor notes that, “[t]he true terrain of QA, […] is the moral ground on which Fowler eventually takes sides”.[22] But though Fowler has acted in order to “remain human” (174), the place in which he now finds himself affords no humanised, sympathetic presence - not to mention a God - “to whom [he] could say that [he] was sorry” (189). Those London-based marital and journalistic ties that once threatened his stay in Paradise, are by the end dissolved. But rather than enabling the furtherance of his acculturation, Fowler’s burning of bridges leaves him suspended on the threshold, culturally-speaking. Despite the fact that he has reclaimed Phuong as a material possession - which means he “could start life again - at the point before [Pyle] came in” (179) - Fowler presents at the novel’s close a liminal figure of exile, withdrawn in his room, endlessly smoking pipes of opium.


Like Fowler’s Vietnam, the Africa of BC is a point of contact between the representing Self and a represented Other. The contemporary moment of the novel - of de-colonisation - inevitably impacts on its production; the narrator remarks that the atrocities of colonialism, “had justified all possible belief in European cruelty” (43). However, this is the only moment when an indictment of colonialism is overtly made. Diving beneath the textual surface, leprosy provides a metonym for the social importance of, and the social stigma attached to skin - the visible mark of racial identity. Interfacing with Blackness thus, as a cutaneous and socially-stigmatised condition, leprosy could function as an indirect comment upon the racism which drives colonialism. Further, Parkinson - who writes about Africa in wilful ignorance - might be a cipher for what Said calls, “the destructive dominance of [a] Eurocentric and totalizing view”.[23] Pointing out that Parkinson’s “geography [is] wrong” (98), Querry underlines how Africa has been misrepresented in and by Europe. However, though the geography of the novel is indubitably that of Empire (the leproserie is a relic of la mission civilisatrice), the focus is on the metaphysical terrain of the chief protagonist, Querry. Parkinson’s cartographical inaccuracy - or rather Querry’s drawing our attention to it - signals that there is something crucial to the narrative in its use and representation of geographical spaces. “[T]he subject of a novel”, as Querry remarks, “is not the plot” (45); space is this novel’s subject, as its setting constitutes a spatial extrojection of Querry’s inner state. As Greene’s prefaratory note to “Michel” attests, “[t]his Congo is a region of the mind” (my emphasis).


Specific descriptions of the wider African topography are spare, sketching an indeterminate region, negatively defined by its perceived “emptiness” (119), and by the capital, Luc - expressly an invented locality (see Greene’s prefatory note). Meanwhile, the leproserie is introduced as an “ugly red-brick university” (13), replete with a provincialist social geography better suited to Nottwich than to equatorial Africa, serving to destabilise the putative exoticism of the outpost’s geographical context. Because “neither [the captain nor Querry] sp[eak] the other’s language with ease or accuracy” (9), combined with the resistance of the narrator to name the focal protagonist (until page 19), Querry seems estranged from his environment and from the narrative itself. In addition, we initially know neither his origin nor his purpose; the native song frames him as: “a white man who […] comes from a long way away - we do not know from where - and he tells no one to what place he is going or why” (11-12). While Colin cannot “immediately identify the nationality of the name” (19-20), Cedric Watts sheds light on the symbolic significance of Querry’s moniker, which, withheld for so long, we are prompted to register when at last it is disclosed.[24] “‘Querry’”, he says, “brings to mind the Latin verb ‘quaere’: question, search for, or seek in vain”.[25] Such punning symbolism fits in with an overarching Greeneian dynamic, of cultural drift and disaffiliation. At the beginning of the text “the boat” apparently “goes no farther” (20); but Querry’s quest - no longer manifested in geographical movement through exterior space - is sustained as a mental journey, with Africa providing stage for his (foreshortened) emotional recovery.


The original goal of his journey, he later tells Colin, was “to be in an empty place” (46), but he is unable to identify for the captain his reasons for deciding on Africa as a destination:     

      ‘Of course,’ the captain said, ‘I know where you are going,

but you have never told me why.’

     ‘The road was closed by floods. This was the only route.’

     ‘That wasn’t what I meant.’ (12)


Of course, Africa’s geo-physical “emptiness” (119) (as far as it is described or prescribed) complements Querry’s sexually, emotionally, and spiritually-denuded inner state; an empty space upon which to re-draw the inner architecture of the self (a trope which tragically runs counter to those trying to re-associate him with his past identity). Perhaps this is why Africa exerts a seemingly centripetal pull on Querry, one he cannot begin to fathom; indeed, he “‘had no idea’” when he left, “‘where [he was] going’” (147). Thus Greene’s landscape does not solely operate to reflect the mind or the situation of the protagonist, as in pathetic fallacy, but plays a great part in determining Querry’s destiny. He had the chance to go to the Orient, but Africa - despite its comparative proximity to Europe - “somehow seemed a lot farther off” (147). The Orient seems less of “a long way off” (146), because it is already familiar to the Western imagination, as a stereotype. Hence the prospect of a plane “‘to Tokyo’” sends Querry on a synaesthetic trip to a land of “‘geishas [and] cherry blossom’” (146-147). Compared to the discursive-richness of the Orient, Africa is a denuded space, less “known” within Western discourse (and, perhaps, thereby more exotic). Querry’s journey into the Congolese interior bears striking similarity to Marlow’s, and Greene’s Africa still, to a significant degree, resembles Conrad’s hermeneutically impenetrable heart of darkness.


Space and place are not necessarily interchangeable terms: a staple of spatial theory is the tension between an overarching concept of space, and the subjective quality of place. David Ley provides an incisive cultural reading of space, which “[l]ike other commodities, […] is engaged not only as a brute fact, but also as a product with symbolic meaning”.[26] But only where the brute fact of space and the subjective self meet does space become place. Querry, however, resists such subjective investment in the spaces he interacts with. His room is “the only one in the [leproserie] completely bare of symbols, bare indeed of almost everything. No photographs of a community or a parent” (74). In other words, there is nothing imparting a trace of memory, such as a photograph which “construct[s]”, in a new and foreign habitat, a vestige of “the familiar” (25); there is nothing signifying either his investment in this space, or that from which he has come. Wishing to drop off the cultural map altogether, Querry seeks pure, “empty space”, much the same as the “blank, white paper” beyond those parameters drawn by “a map” in The Power And The Glory - the “abandoned” lacunae (which betoken “loneliness”) into which the Priest is pursued.[27] Complementarily, Africa’s wider discursive absence and described geo-cultural emptiness are transferable to the personal realm of Querry’s quarters.


Querry’s mental make-up is deliberately, intimately bound with the landscape of the leproserie, as the bodily decay it contains complements Querry’s emotional atrophy. Colin’s “aesthetic” regard for his “Atlas Of Leprosy” (20) illustrates that Greene’s detailed mapping of the human body and its ailments is of as much symbolic import - in relation to Querry’s psychic regions - as geographic landscape(s). The material decay specific to Deo Gratias’ form of leprosy - that is, Hansen’s disease,[28] which atrophies the nerves - is pertinent to Querry’s emotional lack, in that he now no longer feels anything. Bodily and mental geographies hereby interpermeate. Similar thus to - and occupying the same territory as - a leper, Querry is the psychologically burnt-out case of the title. Fallen not through sin, but through a loss of faith, the fact that Querry is “a spiritually-empty hero”[29] is symbolised by the churches he designs - the religious function of which he has no longer has an investment in: “I wasn’t concerned with the people who occupied my space - only with the space” (44).


Querry believes that “perhaps [in the leproserie] there would be enough pain and […] fear to distract” (111) him from the encumbrance of a public persona that no longer corresponds with his own estimate of himself. The leproserie, then, represents an absolute space (a recurring topos in Greene’s fiction),[30] sought in order to enact the transcendence of an old, unwanted prior social identity. The leproserie offers a particular type of sociality, separating from the wider social body the somatic space of the socially-stigmatised leper. As a site shunned and feared by the wider world, the leproserie resonates with Querry’s desire to eschew the public realm from which he has absconded. Moreover, the condition of leprosy itself - the shedding of cutaneous and somatic matter - fits in with the desire to slough off old imposed identities and find out what is essential about the self. Similarly, Querry’s past intuition that “it wasn’t any good taking clothes” (147), not only applies to his initially having “no idea” (147) of where he was going, but is also attuned to the idea of slipping off an old identity - the second skin which clothing represents - and suggests the metaphoric recovery of our original nakedness, and thus innocence. The forest is harmonised with Querry’s purpose, rejecting familiar First-World mythologies, such as those located in “the woods of Europe, with witches and charcoalburners [sic] and cottages of marzipan” (63). By gradually erasing and resisting all signs of modern man’s presence (“[it] would soon convert [the road] to a surface scrawl, like the first scratches on a wall of early man” (31-32)), the forest is both the setting for, and symbolic of Querry’s rejection of civilisation; its immanent primitivism enables Querry to disassociate himself from Modern myths - of which his fame, as a European construct, is one.


However, BC also refers to a space wherein Querry might maintain some sort of functional social existence (aside from his work at the leproserie). Having come, with QA, to associate Fowler’s drug-induced insularity with physical death and spiritual solipsism, Greene recasts the idea of a secular personal peace, with regard to Querry’s inward, psychic retreat: Pendélé. Greene, as Baldridge notes, “leaves it ambiguous […] as to whether it is a real place or merely a product of Deo Gratias’s fancy”.[31] Pendélé resides somewhere between the purely imaginary, unobtainable personal Eden of Scobie’s reveries, and that which is attainable (if transitory), such as the space shared by Jones with Anna-Luise (Doctor Fischer of Geneva (1980)).  Pendélé is also cast as somewhere to be shared with others. When Querry inquires “what happened” there, Deo Gratias’s reply is tellingly pluralised: “Nous étions heureux” (78). Querry enters the narrative with an anti-social mental topography. Indeed, “human beings are not [his] country” (51). But, as his continual interrogation of Deo Gratias testifies, Querry gradually evolves into one who adopts the sharable, social quality of Pendélé as somewhere - both geographical and spiritual - that he himself is trying to locate: “[i]f there was a place called Pendélé, he thought, I would never bother to find my way back” (172). Unfortunately, Deo Gratias’s reply is also couched in the preterite. Pendélé is situated in imaginative space, at the nexus of memory and fabrication; but, lost in “the dim nostalgia [of] the past”, Querry’s “middle age” (172) makes the pastness of his idyll more painfully acute.


Works Cited



Primary Texts


Greene, Graham. The Third Man and Loser Takes All. London: Bodley Head, 1976.


---. The Heart Of The Matter. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1978.


---. The End Of The Affair. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1980.


---. The Power And The Glory. Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1980.


---. Ways Of Escape. London: Bodley Head, 1980.


---. A Burnt-Out Case. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1990.


---.  The Quiet American. London: Vintage, 2001.



Secondary Texts


Bachelard, Gaston, The Poetics of Space: The Classic Look At How We Experience

Intimate Places, trans. by Maria Jolas. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1994.


Baldridge, Cates, Graham Greene’s Fictions: The Virtues of Extremity Columbia, MO:

University of Missouri Press, 2000.


Diephouse, Dan, “The Allusiveness of Space in Graham Greene’s Novels,”

Perceptions of Religious Faith in the Work of Graham Greene, ed. by Wm. Thomas Hill. Oxford: Peter Lang, 2002.


Friedman, Alan Warren, “‘The Dangerous Edge’: Beginning With Death,” Graham

Greene: A Revaluation, ed. Jeffery Meyers. London: Macmillan, 1990.


Gidley, Mick, “Introduction,” Modern American Landscapes, eds. Gidley, Mick and

Robert Lawson-Peebles. Amsterdam: V.U. University Press, 1995.


Ley, David, “Behavioural Geography and the Philosophies of Meaning,” Kevin R. Cox

and Reginald G. Golledge eds., Behavioural Problems in Geography Revisited. London: Methuen, 1989.


Pisano, Frank, “Greene’s A Burnt-Out Case,” The Explicator; Spring 1991; 49(3):177-



Puthak, Zakia, Sengupta, Saswaki and Purkayastha, Sharmila, “The Prisonhouse of

Orientalism,” Textual Practice, Spring 1991; 5(1):195-218.


Said, Edward W., Orientalism: Western Conceptions of the Orient. Harmondsworth:

Penguin, 1991.


---. Culture And Imperialism. New York: Vintage, 1993.


Simon, John K., “Off The Voie Royal: The Failure Of Greene’s A Burnt-Out Case,”

Symposium: A Quarterly Journal In Modern Foreign Literatures, 1964; 18:163-169.


Sherry, Norman, The Life Of Graham Greene: Volume Two: 1939-1955. London:

Random House, 1994.


Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty, “Can the Subaltern Speak?”, Colonial Discourse and

Postcolonial Theory: A Reader, eds. William, Patrick and Laura Chrisman. Harlow: Pearson Education Limited, 1994.


Spurling, John, Graham Greene, eds. Bradbury, Malcolm and Christopher Bigsby.

London: Methuen, 1983.


Sulari, Sara, “The Geography of A Passage to India,” in Harold Bloom, ed., E.M.

Forster’s A Passage to India: Modern Critical Interpretations. London: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987.


Symons, Julian, “The Strength Of Uncertainty: Graham Greene,” Literary Half-Yearly,

1983; 24(1):1-12.


Taylor, Gordon O., “American Personal Narrative of the War in Vietnam,” American

Literature, 1980-1981; 52. Durham, NC: Duke University Press: 294-308.


Watts, Cedric, A Preface To Greene. Essex: Pearson Education Limited, 1997.


Whitfield, Stephen J., “Limited Engagement: The Quiet American as History,” Journal of

American Studies, 30;1 (Cambridge: CUP, 1996): 65-86.



[1] Julian Symons, “The Strength Of Uncertainty: Graham Greene,” Literary Half-Yearly, 1983; 24(1):11-12 [italics added for emphasis].

[2] Mick Gidley, “Introduction” to Modern American Landscapes, eds. Mick Gidley and Robert Lawson-Peebles (Amsterdam: V.U. University Press, 1995), p.1

[3] The Quiet American (London: Vintage, 2001); A Burnt-Out Case (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1990). Further references to these editions are given after quotations in the text. Full titles appear in abbreviated form: QA and BC.

[4] The Third Man (London: Bodley Head, 1976), p.82

[5] See Norman Sherry’s The Life Of Graham Greene: Volume Two: 1939-1955 (London: Random House, 1994), esp. pp.368-372

[6] (London: Bodley Head, 1980), p. 76

[7] Graham Greene, eds. Malcolm Bradbury and Christopher Bigsby (London: Methuen, 1983), p.74

[8] See Stephen J. Whitfield, “Limited Engagement: The Quiet American as History”, in Journal of American Studies, 30 (1996), I: 65-86

[9] (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1991), p.63

[10] In “The Geography of A Passage to India”, in Harold Bloom, ed., E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India: Modern Critical Interpretations (London: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987), p.107

[11] Said, p.21

[12] Sherry, p.364

[13] Said, pp.6-7

[14] Ibid, p.6             

[15] Zakia Puthak, Saswaki Sengupta and Sharmila Purkayastha, “The Prisonhouse of Orientalism”, in Textual Practice, Spring 1991; 5(1):201

[16] (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1994), p.x

[17] Spurling, p.62

[18] Said, p.96

[19] ““The Dangerous Edge”: Beginning With Death”, in Graham Greene: A Revaluation, ed. by Jeffery Meyers (London: Macmillan, 1990), p.132. I am indebted to Freidman’s discussion of a familiar characteristic of Greene’s fiction - what he calls, “a post-mortem fiction” (p.131).

[20] Graham Greene’s Fictions: The Virtues Of Extremity (Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 2000), p.41

[21] Said, p.22

[22] “American Personal Narrative of the War in Vietnam”, in American Literature, 1980-1981;52 (Durham, NC: Duke University Press), p.300

[23] Culture And Imperialism (New York: Vintage, 1993), p.28

[24] For an allegorical reading of names in BC, see Frank Pisano, “Greene’s A Burnt-Out Case”, in The Explicator; Spring 1991; 49(3):177-181

[25]A Preface To Greene (Essex: Pearson Education Limited, 1997), p.157

[26] “Behavioural Geography and the Philosophies of Meaning”, in Kevin R. Cox and Reginald G. Golledge eds., Behavioural Problems in Geography Revisited (London: Methuen, 1989), pp.209-230

[27] (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1980) pp.210-212

[28] OED

[29] John K. Simon, “Off The Voie Royal: The Failure Of Greene’s A Burnt-Out Case”, in Symposium: A Quarterly Journal In Modern Foreign Literatures, 1964; 18:165

[30] See Symons, p.2. Greene’s concern with absolute spaces dates back to the troubled emotive landscape “of the Berkhamsted of his childhood”.

[31] Baldridge, p.124










First Response


The essay explores the spatial metaphors in Graham Greene’s work with maturity, both stylistic and analytic. It shows how the symbolic systems involved in exoticism, and the relation between space and subjectivity, work in literary texts. It draws from fully assimilated major theoretical works such as Said’s and Baudrillard’s, and invests them in a rhetorical analysis of Greene’s work. This essay thus show a good balance between the theory of cultural space, and the reading practice that may follow and inform theory.