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Quinta colonna (1943)

di Graham Greene

Altri autori: Vedi la sezione altri autori.

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1,5402710,378 (3.69)84
For Arthur Rowe, the trip to the charity fete was a joyful step back into adolescence, a chance to forget the nightmare of the blitzand the aching guilt of having mercifully murdered his sick wife. He was surviving alone, aside from the war, until he happened to guess both the true and the false weight of the cake. From that moment, he finds himself ruthlessly hunted, the quarry of malign and shadowy forces, from which he endeavors to escape with a mind that remains obstinately out of focus.… (altro)
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From the introduction, By Alan Furst:
"spy novels are, at some level, always political novels - patriotic or agnostic - but for greene, politics meant opposition, opposition to governments and bureaucracies as the natural enemy of individual freedom. In an interview with John r. macArthur, late in life, greene says, 'ever since the age of 19 I've been on the Left, but I don't know if it means anything or whether it's just my way of thinking. I think it means being against dictatorship. And it's against the extremes of capitalism, which I think is represented by the United states.' "
Drops Mike... boom!

Another tenant moves into the house where Arthur Rowe rents a bedroom. He acts very strange. The landlady introduces him, and Rowe asks her to bring them some tea in his sitting room:
" 'will you have a biscuit?' Rowe asked, opening his cupboard door. Like most men who live alone, he believed his own habits to be the world's; it never occurred to him that other men might not eat biscuits at 6:00.
'Wouldn't you like the cake?' Mrs purvis asked, lingering in the doorway.
'I think we had better finish the biscuits first.'
'cakes,' said the stranger, 'are hardly worth eating these days.'
'but this one,' Mrs purvis said with vicarious pride, 'was made with real eggs. Mr Rowe won it in a raffle.' and just at that moment the news began - 'and this is Joseph McLeod reading it.' the Stranger crouched back in his chair and listened; there was something supercilious in his manner, as though he were listening to stories of which only he was in a position to know the real truth.
'It's a little more cheerful tonight,' Rowe said.
'they feed us,' the stranger said.
'You won't want the cake?' Mrs purvis asked.
'Well, perhaps this gentleman would rather have a biscuit..?'
'I'm very fond of cake,' The stranger said sharply, 'when it's good cake,' as though his taste were the only thing that mattered, and he stamped out his Caporal on the floor."
This stranger turns out to be a really dark character. And what is he, brought up in a barn?... someone stamps out a cigarette on my floor I will get furious.

Things become very frightening now for Arthur Rowe. Because of his good nature, he is persuaded to help an older man carrying a suitcase. Because he doesn't seem to know how to say no, he is persuaded to bring it up into this old hotel, and bring it to some man, Mr. Travers, staying in the hotel. Things start getting really weird after that:
"it was cold and the room was darkening. The same thought struck both of them [He and Anna Hilfe]. 'Try the light,' she said, but his hand had already felt the switch. The light didn't go on.
'it's going to be very dark and very cold,' he said. 'Mr Travers is not making us comfortable.'
'oh,' Miss hilfe said, putting her hand to her mouth like a child. 'I'm scared. I'm sorry, but I am scared. I don't like the dark.'
'They can't do anything,' Rowe said. 'The door's bolted. They can't batter it down, you know. This is a civilized hotel.'
'are you sure,' Miss hilge said, 'that there's no connecting door? In the kitchen ...'
A memory struck him. He opened the kitchen door. 'Yes,' he said. 'You're right again. The tradesman's entrance. These are good flats.'
'but you can bolt that too. Please,' Miss hilfe said.
Rowe came back. He said gently, 'there's only one flaw in this well-furnished flat. The kitchen bolt is broken. He took her hand again quickly. 'Never mind,' he said. 'We're imagining things. This isn't vienna, you know. This is london. We are in the majority. This hotel is full of people - on our side.' He repeated, 'on our side. They are all around us. We've only to shout.' the world was sliding rapidly towards night; like a torpedo liner heeling too far over, she would soon take her last dive into darkness. Already they were talking louder because they couldn't clearly see each other's faces.
But they weren't safe. Inside of the suitcase, was something that clearly spelled out their lack of safety.
After this, rowe wakes up in a nursing home, and he doesn't know his name, and he can't remember anything except from his childhood.
The doctor, Dr Forrester, that runs the nursing home, had done something that he was being blackmailed for, so he had been put into a position where he could do the least harm, in the nursing home.
Rowe is reading one of his books, Tolstoy, that had been put in his room. He can see partially-erased comments in the margin of one of the books, and this gives him an idea into Dr forrester's thinking:
" 'remembering all the evil I have done, suffered and seen, resulting from the enmity of nations, it is clear to me that the cause of it all lay in the gross fraud called patriotism and love of one's country...'
there was a kind of nobility in the blind shattering dogma, just as there was something ignoble in the attempt to rub out the pencil mark. This was an opinion to be held openly if at all. He looked farther up the page: 'Christ showed me that the fifth snare depriving me of welfare is the separation we make of our own from other nations. I cannot but believe this, and therefore if in a moment of forgetfulness feelings of enmity towards a man of another Nation may rise within me...' "
Rowe thinks to himself...
"...Ah, he thought, Tolstoy should have lived in a small country - not in russia, which was a continent rather than a country. And why does he write as if the worst thing we can do to our fellow man is to kill him? Everybody has to die and everybody fears death, but when we kill a man we save him from his fear which would otherwise grow year by year.... one doesn't necessarily kill because one hates: one may kill because one loves... and again the old dizziness came back as though he had been struck over the heart."
He's got a point...
Rowe gets dizzy when his brain tries to bring back his memories.

I like greene. I've only read one other book of his, The End of the Affair, which is a depressing but realistic look at an "affair," but I'm going to be reading more. ( )
  burritapal | Oct 23, 2022 |
Spectacular, if drifty, Graham Greene story of moral ambiguity and struggles with patriotism right in the middle of WWII. Arthur Rowe - mercy killer of his wife and racked by guilt and uncertainty - wanders into a british fair. Gives an accidentally correctly coded message to a fortune teller that wins him a big cake. Turns out the cake is all part of a nefarious Nazi secret stealing plot! Outlandish? i have no idea. but we start from there and go to Mr. Rowe trying to piece it together - in part through a bumbling private eye group. He winds up nearly dead and with his memory lost in a bombing and then on to a sanitarium. From there it all comes dripping back and we have a pretty wiz bang ending. I admire this book - Greene wrestling with the "problem" of being patriotic (when he is such an above it all intellectual) and the ambivalence moved to action of the lead character. Still not sure the title is best for it- it was a kind of strain in the book, but not really dominant nor especially poignant strain. Oh well. ( )
  apende | Jul 12, 2022 |
Végtelen hálás vagyok annak, aki feltalálta a Detektívet, Akinek Van Mit Levezekelnie. Ez a típus egy elkövetett bűn emlékét hordozza magában, amit képtelen feldolgozni – így amikor a világ rendbetételén ügyködik, valójában saját morális „aranykorát” akarja visszaállítani. Ez pedig erkölcsi mélységet ad a karakternek. Én pedig szeretem a karaktereket, akiknek erkölcsi mélysége van – izgalmasabbak lesznek tőle. Arthur Rowe betűre megfelel ennek a leírásnak, attól az apróságtól eltekintve, hogy nem detektív. De hát tudjuk, a detektívnek lenni pont olyan, mint focibírónak vagy immunológusnak: ha annak érzed magad, akkor az vagy. Így hát amikor valami különös kémtörténetbe keveredik, kapva kap az alkalmon, nekiáll felfejteni az ügyet, hátha addig sem gondol arra, mit tett anno saját feleségével.

Igazán Graham Greene-nek való téma. Mert Greene igen jó író, okos és lendületes. Plasztikusan oda tudja tenni a sztori mögé a hátteret, a második világháborús Londont a maga paranoiáival, meg a lehulló bombákkal. De ami igazán jól megy neki, az a moralizálás. Bár a cselekmény sodró, a lényeg mégiscsak Arthur Rowe belső világa, az, ahogy életét egyfajta börtönként rendezi be, amiben megbüntetheti önmagát. Csakhogy ez sem elég, talán mert amíg a társadalom nem szentesíti az önmagára mért büntetést, addig maga sem tud megbocsátani magának – ez a permanens lelkiismereti válság pedig pont az a téma, amivel az erős katolikus kötődésekkel rendelkező Greene szívesen bíbelődik. A „bűnügyi szál” ebben a kontextusban a felszabadulás lehetőségét hordozza magában, nem csak mert eltereli Rowe figyelmét az önkínzástól, hanem egyfajta egérutat kínál: vagy segít felszámolni egy Angliát veszélyeztető összeesküvést, vagy hősiesen megöleti magát – a morális mérleg nyelve így is, úgy is egyensúlyba kerül. Nincs veszíteni valója.

Nem hibák nélküli regény. A gonoszok inkább tűnnek James Bond-típusfiguráknak, mint egy történelmi valóság részeinek, a romantikus szál pedig enyhén hiteltelen, néha pedig indokolatlanul hozza be a cselekménybe az ideális naplementék csiricsáré színvilágát. De ettől függetlenül kedvvel olvastam – Greene-t amúgy is kedvvel szoktam olvasni. ( )
  Kuszma | Jul 2, 2022 |
Summary: Just released from a psychiatric hospital for the mercy killing of his wife, Arthur Rowe inadvertently gets caught up in a twisty espionage plot.

It is 1943, the middle of World War 2 in London, with nightly bombing raids and no one knowing if they will live to the next morning. Arthur Rowe lives quietly in a flat, reading and re-reading The Old Curiosity Shop. He’s been exempted from the war effort because he was recently released from a psychiatric facility where he had served a sentence of the mercy killing of his wife.

Inadvertently, he is caught up in an espionage affair, surviving poisoning, escaping another murder charge only to survive a bomb blast when a case, supposedly of books that he is carrying to a hotel rendezvous explodes. He loses his memory, narrowly escapes a sinister psychiatrist, and joins the effort to hunt down the espionage mastermind, the brother of a woman he has fallen in love with, Anna Hilfe. I’ve seen plenty of plot movement and narrow escapes in other Greene novels, but nothing like the madcap adventures of this novel, reminiscent more of G. K. Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday than anything else I’ve read by Greene.

It begins at a charity fete where Rowe visits a fortune teller who mistakes him for one of the conspirators, that enables him to win a cake in which a role of microfilm has been hidden. He is poisoned, but survives, when he will not give up the cake. After working with a detective, he visits the fortune teller again, and when the lights go out, a man is murdered with a knife carried by Rowe. Knowing he could be charged with murder, he flees, ends up carrying a case of what he thinks are books to a hotel for a man he met at a book seller.

The case explodes, he survives but with the loss of his memory, recovering in a bucolic country psychiatric facility (again!) headed by a soothing but sinister doctor up to no good. He’s visited by Anna Hilfe, who works at the charity that ran the fete, who he’d met earlier and encountered just before the suitcase bomb exploded. He comes to love her, even though he does not remember the prior connection, nor the ways her brother Willi is involved in the espionage plot, ways that become clearer as memory returns and he joins the effort to uncover the ring and retrieve a crucial microfilm.

“The Ministry of Fear” formally is an espionage ring, but becomes more in Greene’s plot. It is the dull reality of the nightly existence of Londeners. For Rowe, it is the fear of being found guilty of a murder he didn’t commit while struggling to justify the one he did. Fear and distrust taints love as both Rowe and Anna know things of the other and of themselves that they dare not reveal. With the catastrophic losses of war and the gray world of espionage, one senses people anxiously clinging to illusions of normalcy in a world gone wrong, and living off balance as a result. It may well be Greene’s snapshot of his times–and a parable for our own. ( )
  BobonBooks | Jun 9, 2022 |
Arthur Rowe, recently released from a year's solitary confinement in" what wasn't called a prison," for the poisoning of his terminally ill wife, finds himself drawn to a charity fête during the height of the London Blitz where he is mistaken for another and becomes entangled in a bizarre Nazi conspiracy. Greene is a master at drawing complex characters and moving them through imaginative plots. The Ministry of Fear is one of his best. The Nazis twice try to kill him: first by using the same poison Rowe used to kill his wife (the irony enrages Rowe), then by bomb (the blast concusses him giving him amnesia, but he manages to heroically save the life of Anna Hilfe. Next the Nazi cell which, preceding the bombing, had tricked him into believing he had stabbed a man to death, places him in a sanitarium run by Dr. Forester whom they had suborned. While there, he finds himself with only the memories of a child and happily enjoys the state of innocence until his compassion for a fellow internee, Major Stone, begins to bring his memory and his sense of adult responsibility back. Taking that responsibility, but still suffering from amnesia, Rowe turns himself into the authorities. There ensues a search for a filmed copy of documents of existential importance to the allied war effort. Rowe also discovers the true Ministry of Fear, "If one loved one feared." Arthur Rowe, now fully restored to his memory finds a stronger self than he left and he finds love through a profound sacrifice.
  RonWelton | Aug 7, 2021 |
Few writers can distill drama from a twisted soul with more skill than Mr. Greene; few experts in the field would dare to combine all the elements you will find in "The Ministry of Fear." The novel begins as a case-history in psychiatry, and ends as a spy hunt, complete with roving Heinkels, pukka sahibs, and a pale Austrian beauty who keeps her enigma to the end. Only the Graham Greene fans will know how cunningly this English virtuoso endows his lumber-room items with life. "The Ministry of Fear" is top-hole entertainment and then some -- a guaranteed chiller to beat the first Summer heat-wave.
If you’re after brilliant writing and an exciting plot and don’t mind dodgy theology then Graham Greene’s The Ministry of Fear is the book for you.
Greene called his novel an ‘entertainment’ but it is clearly much more than that. Despite creating one or two implausible moments in the plot, Greene draws us into the action from the very first pages and doesn’t let us go. The descriptive writing is tremendous and the sense of fear is utterly palpable as Arthur Rowe, the novel’s anti-hero, flees for his life after getting caught up with a Nazi spy ring when attending a fête during the darkest days of the London blitz.

» Aggiungi altri autori (11 potenziali)

Nome dell'autoreRuoloTipo di autoreOpera?Stato
Greene, Grahamautore primariotutte le edizioniconfermato
Furst, AlanIntroduzioneautore secondarioalcune edizioniconfermato
Schaap, H.W.J.Traduttoreautore secondarioalcune edizioniconfermato
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'Have they brought home the haunch?
Charlotte M. Yonge
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There was something about a fete which drew Arthur Rowe irresistibly, bound him a helpless victim to the distant blare of a band and the knock-knock of wooden balls against coconuts.
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For Arthur Rowe, the trip to the charity fete was a joyful step back into adolescence, a chance to forget the nightmare of the blitzand the aching guilt of having mercifully murdered his sick wife. He was surviving alone, aside from the war, until he happened to guess both the true and the false weight of the cake. From that moment, he finds himself ruthlessly hunted, the quarry of malign and shadowy forces, from which he endeavors to escape with a mind that remains obstinately out of focus.

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