Shostakovich, string quartet #4 in D major, op. 83.
- Graham Greene, The
This novel tells the story of a
man only ever named as D. He journeys to Britain
in order to negotiate a secret agreement with a coal company to
have the company supply his government with desperately needed
coal. D’s country is undergoing a civil war, and the coal is
necessary for the war effort. It’s not clear who will win the
war, nor if anyone is really who they claim to be.
This novel differs from the two previous Greene novels I read
because it is entirely told from just one perspective. The
other novels use multiple characters to allow for scene-shifting
and different views of the same situation. Like the other
novels though, this one is very well plotted, and very much a
page-turner. The character of D is well developed, and this
means that the monopoly he has on our attention is not a
problem. However, the main heroine (and love interest) is not
very believable. I wouldn’t be surprised if Greene felt he had
to have a love interest just to conform to the expectations of
the genre. Nonetheless, the heroine plays an important part in
the development of the plot on multiple occasions.
The confidential agent was written in 1939, and
though D’s country is never identified, it’s clearly based on
Spain, which went through a nasty civil war in the 30s. Greene
conveys an atmosphere of depressing bleakness very well. It
really does suggest that the 1930s were totally miserable.
To read next:
Granta 66: Truth and lies.
I didn’t write on Thursday last week because I was
away on a very nice
(though brief) trip to Tübingen. It really is a beautiful town,
and the weather was great. There's a short photo
tour on the University's web-site. I didn't see very much of the
town because I was only there for two nights, and all of the one full
day I had was taken up with a project review meeting. The meeting was
held in the computer
science department, which is on the edge of town. Our room looked
out over beautiful countryside: hills, trees and idyllic quietness.
The contrast with the window I'm looking out of at the moment is
complete. My working view is of the tan coloured bricks of the Lion
Yard car-park, a real eye-sore, next to the back-side of the Crowne
Plaza hotel, a modern monstrosity of zero character. As for quiet, we
have to keep our windows closed all the time because the road below us
is where the cars queue for the parking building. It's possible that
our new building will be better, but nowhere in Cambridgeshire looks
quite like what I saw in Tübingen.
The reason I didn't write yesterday is that I was too
busy catching up with things that happened while I was