Our Man in Havana

Our Man in HavanaGreene divided his own fiction between the novels and stories he considered serious, such as The Heart of the Matter, and those he viewed as lighter entertainments This relatively short 247 pages and not all of them with text novel is one of the latter and like many of the entertainments it draws on the author s World War Ii experiences as a spy for Britain s M 16 intelligence agency And it s obvious here that these weren t experiences he looked back on fondly Set in pre Castro Cuba, it also draws on Greene s personal observations from his time in Cuba in 1957, when he was secretly smuggling warm clothing to Castro s rebels in the eastern hills He apparently continued to admire Castro until Greene s own death in 1991, though by 1983 he had come to have second thoughts about the Cuban dictator s authoritarianism Despite its supposedly lighter tone, however, this book does make philosophical statements It also reflects Greene s status as an ambivalent and not very saintly Catholic, who was particularly disassociated from the Church s teaching on sexual morality because of his numerous extramarital affairs Catholicism here is mainly represented by the protagonist s teenage daughter, who s outwardly scrupulous about the minutia of religious observance, but very far from modeling responsibility and altruism.Stylistically, this book has certain things in common with the earlier one I cited above and which is the only other Greene novel I ve read Greene wrote well, in that his prose flows quickly, he tells an attention holding and often suspenseful story, and that he s insightful regarding human character and interactions when he s trying to be serious It also has in common with the other book the fact that despite the relatively exotic setting, there s little sense of a physical and cultural setting outside of the transplanted bubble of the expatriate Europeans, and what we observe of the non European world is primarily sordid we get the impression that the primary industry of 1957 Havana was prostitution pornography What aspects of an unfamiliar place a foreign observer actually observes, of course, may tell us about the observer than about the place itself Afro Cubans are twice designated, by sympathetic characters, with the n word one usage slaps you over the head as the very second word in the first sentence , a term that appears in the older book as well But this book differs in that it often tries for a tone of satirical humor in places too often, it tries too hard, making the dialogue ridiculous and the characters and situations unrealistic caricatures, and the juxtaposition of the serious and the satirically humorous doesn t always gel.Greene s main philosophical message here seems to be that any loyalty higher than that to family and friends particularly, any abstract loyalty such as patriotism or support for a social principle is misguided and misplaced To be sure, loyalty to human beings we love will naturally, for most of us, take precedence over loyalty to abstractions and when it comes to guiding our actions, moral principle must always trump political or social agendas It should also trump family interests swindling a bureaucracy out of money doesn t become moral if we re doing it for a son or daughter, though Greene here may come close to suggesting that it does But the wall to wall cynicism of Greene s view of the Cold War, as purely a struggle for power between morally equivalent shady rivals, which decent people would be better off to ignore, doesn t ultimately convince this reader And I lived through much of the Cold War period, being born in 1952 In the broader landscape of espionage fiction, Greene s worldview is much like le Carre s in The Spy Who Came In from the Cold though the latter book is a lot serious , rather than, say, Manning Coles But in hindsight, most people in the captive populations behind the Iron Curtain might well have had a perspective similar to Coles while not canonizing M 16 and the CIA. Graceless, gormless Wormold, a British sales agent for an American vacuum cleaner company in barely pre Revolution Havana, has a problem His adolescent daughter Milly, a manipulative and materialistic minx, spends well beyond his paltry earnings in her quest to ensnare the Red Vulture That s a person, not a bird, one Captain Segura, who is the police torturer and possessor of a cigarette case covered in human skin An assertion Milly makes but Segura denies Wormold is fighting a losing battle, trying to sell a home appliance that s less useful than a broom in a country that s teetering on the brink of collapse The power goes off too often to make it a sensible purchase, despite Wormold s trips to Cienfuegos the Cuban Navy s main port and points east where the Revolutionary Army is strongest to drum up business What he does drum up is the interest of the state security apparatus You see, Wormold is a British spy.Good heavens, not a real one He was worrying his way through a daily daiquiri with his German friend Dr Hasselbacher when a Brit called Hawthorne inveigles him into the bathroom That sounds, well, louche is I suppose the least offensive term, but it s what happens so have a s ance and take it up with Greene if it s too sordid for you What Hawthorne wants, I suppose, is a reason to visit Havana from his base in staid Kingston, Jamaica In 1958, when the book takes place, Havana was the Las Vegas of the Caribbean It also doesn t hurt his standing with MI6 to have a sub agent in uneasy, revolution bound Cuba Wormold gets the nod, though to be honest I don t see a single reason whyoh waitMilly the Minx is spending Daddy into bankruptcy her initial salvo when we meet her is to demand a horse to go with the saddle she s just bought so of course Wormold is in need of funds Money always talks to men with debts From that match to fuse moment, a farce of atomic power begins to whirl from one end of the world to the other Some sage adivce given to Wormold by WWI veteran Hasselbacher, to make his reports to London out of whole cloth on the principle that no one can disprove a lie, leads to Wormold s entire life being turned upside down As he hurries from fire to fire atop an ever increasing reactor fire of anxiety into terror, Wormold s lies begin to morph into the truth Hawthorne s sub agent becomes London s Agent of the Month, so to speak, as the wildly inventive reports he files bear fruit As the book was written long before the events of the Missile Crisis, it really seems as though Greene was prescient He has Wormold invent secret bases where mysterious equipment drawings attached to his report were actually of a scaled up vacuum cleaner was being assembled MI6 wants photos, of course Raul the pilot an invented sub agent of Wormold s suddenly dies in a crash This is evidence that Wormold is onto something, obviously.More and of Wormold s fabulous reports are borne out as his contacts begin to suffer for his lies Wormold himself comes in for assassination by the Other Side He averts his fate, being a devout coward, and then has to do the worst imaginable thing to escape retribution Read it, you ll see In the end, Greene can t design a better fate for Wormold and Milly than the one he puts on the page It s perfect, it flows naturally from what s happened in the story, and it s hilarious The humor of this book, like most of Greene s work, is dark to black Be warned that there is little of this sixty year old send up of National Security run amok that isn t viewable as critical of the State from 2019 s perspective as well Is that sad or inevitable, or perhaps both My favorite moment in the story comes when Wormold, busily inventing actions for his fictitious sub agents to get up to, muses on the creative process Sometimes he was scared at the way these people grew in the dark without his knowledge.Beautifully said, Author Greene Just beautiful And so very true. Popular Ebook, Our Man In Havana Author Graham Greene This Is Very Good And Becomes The Main Topic To Read, The Readers Are Very Takjup And Always Take Inspiration From The Contents Of The Book Our Man In Havana, Essay By Graham Greene Is Now On Our Website And You Can Download It By Register What Are You Waiting For Please Read And Make A Refission For You I had come across two lists mentioning the top 100 mystery crime novels some time back Both the lists one by Britain based Crime Writers Association and the other by Mystery Writers of America, contained multiple books by Graham Greene You can find both the lists here Link The CWA list was published in 1990 and the MWA list in 1995 Pretty long time back but the books included are very fine specimens of crime writing.I had read Greene s The Human Factor long time back and for some reason that book did not impress me much But this one was simply brilliant The edition I got from my library contained an introduction by Christopher Hitchens Reading this introduction I got some insights about the author and how his childhood and beliefs influenced his works Hitchens also says that John Le Carre had been influenced by Greene.Greene had a victim of bullying in his childhood and this exerted no little influence on his works His pro Communist sympathies, dependence on alcohol, his rejection of the notion of patriotism, anti American sentiments all are present in his books.Hitchens also mentioned Greene sspooky prescience when it came to the suppurating political slums on the periphery of America s Cold War empireI would suggest that you check out this book and The Quiet American if you want to understand.Anyways, let us go to the story The protagonist is Jim Wormold, a vacuum cleaner saleman whose business is not doing well and whose daughter Milly had a knack of spending his money with a skill that amazed Wormold Our hero is not a forceful character, it seemed to me that he, like the author, had been a victim of bullying he is gratified when his daughter set a bully on fire and oh yes his wife has left him for another man as well.Wormold gets an offer to be recruited by a British agent to spy for the British Intelligence and after some initial reluctance he agrees because he needed the money for Milly s education So he invents a false spy ring and starts feeding rubbish to British Secret Service.There are some other interesting characters as well Wormold s daughter Milly, Captain Segura and Dr Hasselbacher Milly is a good bad adolescent girl who is a staunch Catholic on one hand and can be a bit of a tart on the other.Captain Segura of the Cuban Police is a pretty intimidating character.Dr Hasselbacher is the person for whom one would feel sympathy Greene s contempt for the British spy agency has been brilliantly presented throughout the novel some parts are actually funny if not hilarious.Very soon the little fraud by Wormold escalates in to something dangerous and people start dying Betrayal, deception, subterfuge, greed, confusion, manipulation the elements have so nicely used by the author There is a scene involving a certain man and his lady problems which was actually hilarious.I liked the way how the character of Wormwold evolved from a harmless man to one who would use subterfuge to outwit Segura and even plan for revenge This reluctance to know intimate details about the man he is trying to kill so that his intended victim a killer himself, does not turn into a human being showed his moral scruples even when he was trying to avenge a friend The scene where Wormwold would try to outwit Segura was wonderful.The book is full of brilliant dialogues and statements Initially I thought of including some of them, but later I felt I should not spoil your pleasure if you plan to read it someday In my humble opinion, the writing is excellent.I simply have to recommend this book to fans of John Le Carre s style of thrillers There are no fancy gadgets, car chases, femme fatales but you get a good story and some fine writing.While reading the blurb of the book I was reminded of The Tailor of Panama by John Le Carre Later I found articles which stated that Le Carre was indeed influenced by this book You can refer to the articles by NY Times Link and The Guardian Link if you are interested. Who ever knew that Graham Greene could be so funny This is fine entertainment, although as always influenced by Greene s view on morality and fate Not that that s bad, because Greene does it so well.This idea about inventing a spy network and going along with the deception reminds me of the story of Agent Garbo during WWII. When I was a youngster I read a lot of Graham Greene This one feels to me to be less typical, Catholicism isn t such a feature and guilt isn t quite such an overwhelming presence as in some of his other novels By contrast this is fairly light.It s an enjoyable read and there s a value that still seems fairly relevant in it s message of being mindful of the potential sources of intelligence information.Greene seems to have suffered a fall in Grace as according to the county library catalogue he is not even on the shelves any , perhaps other writers meet the public need for neo Catholic guilt and religious strivings today This is a fun read, the story of an accidental spy Mr Wormold love that name sells vacuum cleaners in Havana, not very successfully, until one day he is recruited by a British agent to work for his country while living in that no longer romantic foreign outpost To be a secret agent Well the story takes off from there with a cast of slightly crazy characters Wormold s religiously manipulative daughter Milly, Captain Segura the head of the local police who has mastered torture, locals of varying nationalities, and multiple members of the spy community It is with considered purpose I do not use the term intelligence to describe that community This is a great read that is timeless in it s message and story Enjoy.Edited this morning to reflect my decision that this is a 5 star book. This is the first of Graham Greene s novels I ve read that is classed as one of his entertainments so I wasn t at all sure what to expect The style, tone and nature of Our Man in Havana clearly has a very different feel to his serious novels Heart of the Matter , End of the Affair et al and as such is quite distinct from that oeuvre Our Man in Havana is very well written as you would expect from Graham Greene and is certainly very entertaining, very funny throughout The plot is ostensibly based on the farcical premise of an English vacuum cleaner salesman stationed in a pre revolutionary Havana, being recruited by the British Secret Service, leading to the subsequent reports and actions that he takes in fulfilling his new espionage role As such, the story often has very much the feel of a traditional farce to it albeit an intelligent and very funny one and one contains many elements in it that feel to the reader almost feasible, almost believable So whilst Our Man in Havana is essentially light hearted and loads of fun, perhaps there are elements in and amongst which do convey a serious message s and allude to serious themes for our consideration Whilst maybe not considered as great, as profound, as meaningful nor of the same import as Graham Greene s serious novels it is clearly not intended to be so There is however equally a place for the intelligent, witty and well written entertainment such as this one, just as much as for the serious novel.This is compelling written and very evocative of a pre revolutionary Havana I was lucky enough to visit Havana around 15 years ago now and although faded and in some cases crumbling, the grandeur and uniqueness of Havana, frozen as it is in time since 1959, make it a special, exciting and fascinating place The Havana described by Greene is still there very much to see albeit, in its 21st Century version Our Man in Havana is a very well, very compellingly written novel Wormold is a great creation very funny and in a strange kind of way almost believable. Graham Greene is one of the most highly regarded British authors of the 20th century The American novelist John Irving has paid tribute to him, calling him,the most accomplished living novelist in the English language Very popular as a thriller writer, writingentertainments , as he called them, Graham Greene also wrote deeply serious Catholic novels, which received much literary acclaim, although he never actually won the Nobel prize for Literature In these he examined contemporary moral and political issues through a Catholic perspective Many of them are powerful Christian portrayals, concerning the struggles within the individual s soul He argued vehemently against being characterised as a Catholic novelist however, saying that he was a novelist who happened to be a Catholic Graham Greene had been an unhappy child, attempting suicide several times according to his autobiography, and as an adult he suffered from bi polar disorder Of this, he said,Unfortunately, the disease is also one s material Our Man in Havana though is a product of the other side of Greene s imagination It is a humorous suspense novel a spoof spy story, incorporating two of his favourite themes espionage and politics Greene had actually been recruited by MI6 during World War II, and had worked in counter espionage Earlier, in 1922, he had been a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain His experience from such times provided much of the inspiration for the characters in Our Man in Havana In it he pokes fun at the intelligence services, especially the British MI6 Yet the novel also has a darkly philosophic edge, and its conclusion is very bleak.Our Man in Havana was written in 1958, and set in Cuba before the missile crisis of 1962 In some ways the book feels very reminiscent of spy stories dating from World War II, and in others, such as the parts of the plot about missile installations, it seems to anticipate coming events.The tone of the novel is light and droll, occasionally lapsing into outright farce There is little description the language is simple and direct to the point of being spare Graham Greene s realism and lean writing his readability is considered to be one of his greatest strengths One critic has said,nothing deflects Greene from the main business of holding the reader s attention The main character in the story is James Wormold, a mild mannered vacuum salesman who seems oddly isolated in Cuba He is surrounded by other characters described in high relief, his manipulative Catholic daughter Millie, a political gangster Segura, and his closest friend who is also an isolated enigma, the World War I veteran, Dr Hasselbache When the bumbling Wormold, desperate for money to indulge his spendthrift daughter, is approached by Hawthorne, he is at first disbelieving view spoiler Hawthorne offers him a job working for the British secret service, which Wormold has misgivings about However he slips into the job, conjuring up whatever seems to be demanded of him, drawing complicated diagram of bits of his vacuum cleaners to represent various missile components, and inventing fictitious contacts hide spoiler This is one of Graham Greene s thrillers which he labeled as entertainments as a warning to his audience not to take these books seriously Our Man in Havana definitely needs such a warning There is no reason to take the book seriously at all.The plot is promising Havana vacuum cleaner Wormold, owner of an Havana vacuum cleaner shop, hard pressed to satisfy the expensive tastes horses, country club of his beautiful, manipulative and motherless teenage daughter, decides when recruited by MI6 to pad his espionage expense account by inventing agents and mysterious government installations This works well for him, until the real life model for one of his imaginary agents is found shot to death Suddenly, his serviceable fictions have become unfortunately real.The book has other pleasures or virtues in addition to its clever plot The Havana atmosphere is vivid, particularly the tawdry parts of the city, the dialogue is witty and diverting, and the climax in which our hero stalks a killer who has been assigned to kill him is not without excitement Many of the scenes are funny, and the way Greene presents his hero as simply another variety of fiction provides opportunity for revealing observations and asides.But an entertainment, however unserious, demands some sense of danger, and whatever dangerousness the first part of the book created for me, the latter part of the book dissipated Although this is a curious thing to say, I believe the sense of danger began to dissipate as soon as the bodies began to fall.Part of the reason for this is that Our Man in Havana is set in the sunset days of Batita s Cuba Castro and his rebels were already in the hills although Greene does not mention this , and one of the characters, Captain Segura, who is known to be one of Batista s torturers, seeks Wormold s daughter Milly in marriage Thus Wormold playing at spies particularly in this place, at this time seems like an extraordinarily dangerous thing to do, both for himself and for his daughter Yet not long after the first agent is killed, Greene begins to exploit the situation for romance, laughs, and adventure It was then I realized that Greene took his plot much less seriously than I did, and I began little by little to lose interest in the book.Still, the book was entertaining, with some laughs, some thrills, and an interesting discussion of what are good reasons for engaging in violence hint working for Batista or for MI6 are not acceptable choices All, in all, a good way to spend a couple of hours or so provided you are willing at least for brief while not to take dictatorships, torture, revolution, and murder too seriously.

Wikipedia

➶ [Reading] ➸ Our Man in Havana By Graham Greene ➫ – Webcamtopladies.info
  • Paperback
  • 220 pages
  • Our Man in Havana
  • Graham Greene
  • English
  • 25 August 2017
  • 9780140184938

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *