By Brian Lindsay Thomson (auth.)
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The uprising has already taken place and it has already been crushed by Colonel Hartep, Belgrade’s Chief of Police. The revolution’s failure has conferred upon Czinner a negative freedom similar to that which the departure of Janet Pardoe, Mabel’s mistress, confers upon the journalist: freedom from the social and personal ties that have hitherto made both of their actions meaningful.
Mabel’s ambition—and, subsequently, her willingness to distort the facts as she understands them in the interests of self-aggrandizement—plays a more signiﬁcant role in maintaining the story’s suspense than what another character refers to as her ‘unhealthy’ sexual habits. Instead, Mabel’s sexuality constitutes an excessive gesture, and reﬂects for the reader both the sensationalism to which Mabel has devoted herself as a reporter of ‘human interest’ stories and the sensationalism associated with the story of adventure.
Its audience would not sit still while characters brooded at length. It would welcome a clever turn of phrase, but not a metaphor that dragged on for three pages. It would relish ambiguity—provided that the ambiguity contributed to the story’s suspense. It would not feel disappointed if something improbable happened to a character so long as the narrative related the ramiﬁcations of the event with strict plausibility. And in order to extract the maximum amount of suspense from the plot, it preferred to have characters that it could relate to on something beyond an intellectual level.
Graham Greene and the Politics of Popular Fiction and Film by Brian Lindsay Thomson (auth.)