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In a prison in Occupied France one in every ten men is to be shot. The prisoners draw lots among themselves - and for rich lawyer Louis Chavel it seems that his whole life has been leading up to an agonising and crucial failure of nerve. Hysterical with panic, fear, and a sense of injustice, he offers to barter everything he owns for someone to take his place. Graham Greene wrote The Tenth Man in 1944, when he was under a two-year contract to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and the manuscript lay forgotten in MGM's archives until 1983. It was published two years later with an introduction by the author.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780099284147
ISBN-10: 0099284146
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 11mm)
Pages: 160
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 1-Jun-2000
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Reviews

US Kirkus Review » By his own admission (in a brief introduction here), Greene had "completely forgotten" the existence of an unpublished story called The Tenth Man - sold in 1944 to MGM, which dug it out of the archives in 1983. And, if that seems like an unpromising omen, so does the fact that Greene fills out the first half of this slight volume with "two more ideas for films" - both of them thin, shorthand-style scenarios. It's a pleasant surprise, then, to find that The Tenth Man itself is a more-than-respectable novella - far from a major addition to the Greene oeuvre, but a curious, intense, ironic tale reminiscent of Georges Simenon's better exercises in darkly psychological suspense. The setting is Nazi-occupied France during WW II; the Germans have filled a prison with innocent Frenchmen - to use as hostages in case of anti-German activities by the French townfolk. So, after two German soldiers in the town are murdered, the "orders are that one man in every ten shall be shot in this camp." And when a single, middle-aged Paris lawyer named Chavel draws one of the fatal lots, he offers all his wealth - cash, country house - to anyone who'll take his place before the firing squad: a young fellow nicknamed "Janvier" agrees, making sure that his new fortune will be passed on to his mother and sister. Jump, then, to postwar France - where the shamed lawyer, now calling himself Chariot, can find no work, is near starvation. . . and pathetically arrives at his old country-house, now inhabited (gypsy-style) by Janvier's old mother and young sister Therese. But, though Therese is obsessed with hatred for the cowardly lawyer who enticed her brother to his death, she never suspects that "Chariot" is this very man: she lets him stay on as handyman; he slowly falls hopelessly in love with her, unable to share his dark, guilty secret. And when a thoroughgoing villain - a con-man/actor who falsely claims to be the real Chavel - later arrives at the house, anti-hero Chariot becomes something of a true hero, redeeming his previous cowardice. Less than fully satisfying, with characters who remain only sketches - but full of sharp Greene touches (including a button-down priest) amid the slightly murky Simenon-esque landscape. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Graham Greene

Graham Greene was born in 1904. On coming down from Balliol College, Oxford, he worked for four years as sub-editor on The Times. He established his reputation with his fourth novel, Stamboul Train. In 1935 he made a journey across Liberia, described in Journey Without Maps, and on his return was appointed film critic of the Spectator. In 1926 he had been received into the Roman Catholic Church and visited Mexico in 1938 to report on the religious persecution there. As a result he wrote The Lawless Roads and, later, his famous novel The Power and the Glory. Brighton Rock was published in 1938 and in 1940 he became literary editor of the Spectator. The next year he undertook work for the Foreign Office and was stationed in Sierra Leone from 1941 to 1943. This later produced the novel The Heart of the Matter, set in West Africa. As well as his many novels, Graham Greene wrote several collections of short stories, four travel books, six plays, three books of autobiography - A Sort of Life, Ways of Escape and A World of My Own (published posthumously) - two of biography and four books for children. He also contributed hundreds of essays, and film and book reviews, some of which appear in the collections Reflections and Mornings in the Dark. Many of his novels and short stories have been filmed and The Third Man was written as a film treatment. Graham Greene was a member of the Order of Merit and a Companion of Honour. He died in April 1991.

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