Eamonn Lynskey's Poetry and Reading Blog

September 19, 2012

The Human Factor by Graham Greene. Publ. by Penguin 1980. First Publ. 1978

Filed under: Books — tvivf @ 2:25

One of the hallmarks of Greene’s writings is how much of his work examines moral choices. He constantly tests our view of dilemmas that call for judgement as to a ‘right way’ or a ‘wrong way’ of handling them and often leaves us anxious about whether there is in fact a ‘right’ or a ‘wrong’ way of doing anything. For instance, if an individual in a spying organisation is suspected of having been compromised to the extent of his putting other lives at risk, does one wait for irrefutable proof, thereby continuing run serious risks to the ‘organisation’?  Or should one proceed to elimination on the basis of reasonable proof?

          And is an individual whose life is saved by another thereby bound in gratitude to that other for the rest of the saved life? And former enemies, who put one’s life at risk in the past: should they be accepted later as allies? And should changing circumstances re-draw the boundaries of allegiance and loyalty?

          I’ve been waffling on like this because I’m not good enough as a reviewer to talk about this book in any specific detail lest I give away its plot. And the book is very old-fashionedly a book of tight plot, a page-turner, a book hard to put down, even though you have to get up early the next morning. It’s all this, but much more besides.


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