Brian Diemert

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Within Graham Greene's large body of work stand several texts which, for reasons explored in this thesis, he originally called "entertainments". Because this label seems to suggest that these texts are not as important as his other novels, they have received relatively little critical attention. This thesis helps to redress this imbalance.;Beginning with a brief consideration of generic distinction, I argue that Greene's use of the "entertainment" label is tied to the specific historical, political, and literary context of the nineteen-thirties in Britain. At this time, Greene and other writers reacted to the literary and critical practices of the high modernists, who emerged during and after World War One. With a renewed sense that literature could not be divorced from the social and political milieu of which it was a part, Greene and others sympathetic to the cause of the Left returned to a realistic mode of fiction and used popular forms of writing in their works. Greene's particular response, seen primarily in his "entertainments", was to develop the classical detective story as practiced by Poe, Doyle, Christie, and others into the political thriller.;By looking at the form of the detective story along lines suggested by Roland Barthes, Tzvetan Todorov, Peter Brooks, and Dennis Porter, I show how Greene's texts explore the problem of reading and understanding in an intensely political age. In this context, his texts are seen as "narrative (s) of narratives" (Brooks 25).;After discussing several of Greene's early texts, such as "Murder for the Wrong Reason," Rumour at Nightfall, Stamboul Train, It's a Battlefield, and England Made Me, in terms of how they develop a political critique while exploring aspects of popular literature, I turn to a consideration of A Gun for Sale, Brighton Rock, The Confidential Agent, and The Ministry of Fear. In my examination of these texts, I consider a number of related issues involving the production and interpretation of narrative, and I relate these concerns to questions of ideology in politics and literary criticism. Ultimately, I find The Ministry of Fear to be Greene's fullest treatment of the materials of detective fiction.



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