A Spy Novel Analysis

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Greene's thrillers represent a serious attempt to establish the spy novel as an appropriate vehicle for exploring the tensions, ambiguities, darkness and sense of alienation which characterize the experience of modernity in the twentieth century. The most significant feature of formulaic narratives-spy novels, westerns, gothic romances, science fiction fantasies, detective thrillers-as defined by Warshow is self-referentiality:
“One goes to any individual example of the type with very definite expectations, and originality is to be welcomed only in the degree that it intensifies the expected experience without fundamentally altering it.... It is only in an ultimate sense that the type appeals to its audience's experience of reality; much more
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J.P. Kulshrestha has observed that Greene's thrillers are written "in the predominantly secular point of view," but the narrative world of the entertainments is fallen, not merely secular. What Harper refers to as "the extreme suffering of loneliness" experienced by the spy on the run becomes emblematic of the modern predicament as Greene conceives it: the loss of God as punishment for the failure and guilt which define our fallen state.
Greene's juxtaposition of the comic world and the fallen world emphasizes Wormold's psychological detachment from the concerns and values of the women. The fallen world into which Greene's other heroes finds themselves catapulted lies across "the frontier of violence." Violence, or the threat of violence, plays an important part in any spy novel, yet, even without the violence forming an integral part of a thriller's physical action, the historical back grounds and settings of the entertainments reflect a world fallen from unity and order into the abyss of violence and
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As I have been arguing, his utilization of the basic conventions of the espionage thriller-the spy on the run, the spy as the hunter/avenger, the love relationship as a "reward" for a successful mission-in a rather subversive manner, together with his utilization of mimetic rather than formulaic literary devices-uncertainty rather than suspense, recognition rather than identification. Identification, settings drawn from our ordinary reality rather than romanticized locales-transforms the spy novel from escapist fantasy into a vehicle for the author's investigation into the ambiguities and ironies of modern
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