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ReaderMarija's Reviews

...a pot luck of thoughts and reflections

Currently reading

Rosemary Edmonds, Leo Tolstoy
Christmas Pudding and Pigeon Pie (Vintage Original)
Nancy Mitford
Tales of Glass Town, Angria, and Gondal: Selected Early Writings
Christine Alexander, Patrick Branwell Brontë, Anne Brontë, Emily Brontë, Charlotte Brontë
The Captain and the Enemy - Graham Greene, John Auchard I know that this is Greene’s last published novel, and that many literary critics tend to ignore it, considering it as not really being a good example of the kind of writing Greene was capable of. Having read The Quiet American and The Ministry of Fear: An Entertainment, I can understand that reasoning. The themes and message of The Captain and the Enemy are not as strong and philosophical as those other works that were written during the height of Greene’s career. However, I found this book more personal than the other two works I’ve read, and some of Greene’s descriptions—the imagery and comedy… and those fleeting moments, rituals and subtle statements that evoke such a depth of feeling—made me truly love this book.

For the narrator, Jim, the story’s very much a personal written exercise… a sort of spiritual undertaking and quest of discovery and understanding… trying to make sense of these two figures in his life—the Captain and Liza—to uncover the mystery of their relationship… loyalty, responsibility and love and how it somehow manages to connect these two individuals with characters from opposite ends of the spectrum. And with the story’s running theme of King Kong, it almost becomes a retelling of the Beauty and the Beast tale.

A few noteworthy quotes:

“ ‘Your father is a devil,’ [my mother] was very fond of telling me, and her eyes would lose their habitual boredom and light suddenly up for a moment like a gas cooker. My father […] came to the funeral dressed top to toe in black; he had a beard which went well with the suit, and I looked for the tail under the coat, but I couldn’t perceive one, although this did little to reassure me.”

“I was not puzzled at all by the Captain’s arrival, I accepted it. It had happened like a fine day between two weeks of rain.”

“… the Captain paused and took a step back. He was gazing at the plane with reverence as though it were some sacred object which might grant his prayers, or as a man might look at a woman who has aged by his side but still holds his admiration by the way she has skillfully dealt with time.”

This reminds me of my grandfather: “… I realized that to him, at his years, old age did not start till well after his own”

“So now I’m writing what I’ve always been too shy to say… the day you came to see me… You had lost a button off your shirt and your shoes could have done with a good clean.”