“England Made Me”

Perhaps Graham Greene isn’t ‘modern’ in the sense of the literary term when applied to that seismic movement of the early twentieth century; even so, I was stuck by how fluid and ‘anti-traditional’ some of the writing is in “England Made Me”.

It is not one of his most ‘popular’ novels, I suspect – though not entirely unknown thanks in part to the 1973 film version starring Peter Finch and Michael York. I have not seen the film I confess, but wonder how much of the somewhat ‘seediness’ of Greene’s novel will have made it onto the screen.

Some of the themes of “England Made Me” – corruption, violence, being principled and unprincipled – are to the fore; as is the undercurrent of unrealised incest between the Farrant twins (Michael York and Hildegard Neil. And the grey and murky side of life is in much of Greene’s work (just think of “Brighton Rock”). But it is, for me, a novel that very slightly misses it’s mark: Farrant’s falling in ‘love’ feels unrealistic, the ending is too easy to see coming, the deluded and psychopathic ‘hitman’ not quite right somehow…

But none of this should put anyone off from reading Greene – there’s more than enough to go round!