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Graham Greene

The Third Man

Buchbesprechung von Florian Salomon

About the author

Graham GreenGraham Greene was an English novelist, short-story writer, playwright and journalist. He was born in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, England in 1904. Being the son of a headmaster was probably what pushed him towards a literary career, but perhaps the push was a little too hard... He was educated at the University of Oxford and suffered a nervous breakdown in his late teens.

His novels treat moral issues in the context of political settings. Furthermore, he is a superb storyteller. Many of his books have also been filmed, like The Tenth Man, Our Man in Havanna, The Human Factor, The Third Man and others. Greene died in 1991.

The plot

3rd man coverThe story is about Rollo Martins who arrives in a post-war Vienna to visit his ex-school friend Harry Lime. His friend has offered him a job. When Rollo Martins wants to meet his old friend, he hears that Harry Lime has died in a curious traffic accident. At the cemetery he meets a friend of Lime, Calloway. Calloway invites Rollo Martins to a chocolate liqueur. In the English bar in the Kärtnerstraße he gets information about the state of affairs in Vienna. Calloway bets with Martins that the death of Harry Lime was no accident. So Rolo Martins becomes more and more doubtful about the traffic accident of his friend Lime. He starts to search for the real reasons. He wants to find the answers to his questions, why and who? What happened to Harry Lime?

My opinion

I have read this book because I knew the title. The Third Man, a black & white movie, was made in Vienna. The waste water canals became famous through this film. And so I decided to read the book. The preface are the best pages of the book There Graham Greene wrote, "The Third Man was never written to be read but only to be seen." or "The film, in fact, is better than the story, because it is the finished state of this story." When you start reading the book you realise that Graham Greene must have known much about World War II. He tells a lot about the old Vienna, where the allied powers had control over their parts of the city, about how the people lived in that time. The biggest problem for me was to understand exactly the meaning of some sentences. For example: Do you mind drinking up? First I tried to read without a dictionary, but after some pages the vocabulary was to difficult.