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The Third Man by Graham Greene

The Third Man (edition 1999)

by Graham Greene

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1,437365,229 (3.74)150
Title:The Third Man
Authors:Graham Greene
Info:Penguin Books (1999), Edition: 50th, Paperback, 160 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Third Man by Graham Greene

  1. 30
    The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan (chrisharpe)
  2. 00
    Utz by Bruce Chatwin (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: Bruce Chatwin's tribute to Greene, it follows a similar plot.
  3. 00
    How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read by Pierre Bayard (Queenofcups)
    Queenofcups: Bayard treats Greene's book discussion group scene in this very amusing little book.

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English (24)  Spanish (6)  German (3)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  Danish (1)  English (36)
Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
I have tried to watch The Third Man more times than I care to remember. Tried and failed. I know it is considered a classic but the only effect it ever had on me was to put me to sleep.

As part of my self-imposed Greene-land challenge, this is one of the two books that I have looked forward to least. The other, btw, is Greene's other cinematic "classic" Brighton Rock.

So, there I was starting The Third Man having made a huge pot of coffee in full expectation that slumber would befall me at anytime.

And what happens? Greene brings to life the dreariness of post-war Vienna much more effectively on page than the film ever could in moving images. Who'd have thought it?!

"I never knew Vienna between the wars, and I am too young to remember the old Vienna with its Strauss music and its bogus easy charm; to me it is simply a city of undignified ruins which turned that February into great glaciers of snow and ice. The Danube was a grey flat muddy river a long way off across the Second Bezirk , the Russian zone where the Prater lay smashed and desolate and full of weeds, only the Great Wheel revolving slowly over the foundations of merry-go-rounds like abandoned millstones, the rusting iron of smashed tanks which nobody had cleared away, the frost-nipped weeds where the snow was thin. I haven’t enough imagination to picture it as it had once been, any more than I can picture Sacher’s Hotel as other than a transit hotel for English officers or see the Kärntnerstrasse as a fashionable shopping street instead of a street which exists, most of it, only at eye level, repaired up to the first storey. A Russian soldier in a fur cap goes by with a rifle over his shoulder, a few tarts cluster round the American Information Office, and men in overcoats sip ersatz coffee in the windows of the Old Vienna."

The other aspect I enjoyed about The Third Man was that this wasn't so much of a thriller which was meant to be taken seriously anymore. Greene found his touch as a writer of political spoofs - only later to be surpassed of course by Our Man in Havanna.

"There is a lot of comedy in these situations if you are not directly concerned. You need a background of Central European terror, of a father who belonged to a losing side, of house -searches and disappearances, before the fear outweighs the comedy. The Russian, you see, refused to leave the room while Anna dressed: the Englishman refused to remain in the room: the American wouldn’t leave a girl unprotected with a Russian soldier, and the Frenchman – well, I think the Frenchman must have thought it was fun. Can’t you imagine the scene? The Russian was just doing his duty and watched the girl all the time, without a flicker of sexual interest; the American stood with his back chivalrously turned, but aware, I am sure, of every movement; the Frenchman smoked his cigarette and watched with detached amusement the reflection of the girl dressing in the mirror of the wardrobe; and the Englishman stood in the passage wondering what to do next."

Review originally posted on BookLikes: http://brokentune.booklikes.com/post/1009421/the-third-man ( )
  BrokenTune | Aug 21, 2016 |
3.5 ( )
  unelement | Apr 22, 2016 |
The classic noir story. So short ( ( )
  mbmackay | Dec 6, 2015 |
I enjoyed the reading very much. I saw the film years ago and in 2011 I had a 'Third Man' tour in Vienna where I saw the places where the story was playing. On this tour I learned also how Vienna was devided for the Allies and how this worked. This was for the content of the book very informative.
It's a fast-paced and short reading and shows how in the aftermath of WWII people were creative to make money even though others had to die for it. ( )
  Ameise1 | Aug 16, 2015 |
Reading this after a very long break from Graham Greene made me wonder if the author has been terribly overrated. I'd be curious to revist his greatest works now. This is short and diverting, but continues to reach for some wider literary awareness, and fails. This only dissipates the tension and atmosphere of what could be a very tight, claustrophobic book (like I remember Brighton Rock being). I wonder if Greene was executing someone else's idea with this novella? EDIT TO ADD: I have just discovered that Greene claimed he never intended this novella to be read by the public and it was to serve as a treatment for the screenplay only. This exuses a lot, but it makes it even more puzzling in a way - why all these lazy literary riffs on the difference between high/low culture? The bit where Western-writer Rollo Martin is continually mistaken for a literary author, for example? I dunno. Perhaps in essence this is halfway to Coen Brothers material, and I like them a lot. I dunno, I remain a bit disappointed by what The Third Man could have been. ( )
1 vote Quickpint | Apr 8, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (33 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Graham Greeneprimary authorall editionscalculated
Baldini, GabrieleTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Burger, FritzTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Carol Reed in admiration and affection and in memory of so many early morning Vienna hours at Maxim's, the Casanova, the Oriental
First words
One never knows when the blow may fall.
For the first time Rollo Martins looked back through the years without admiration, as he though, He's never grown up. Marlowe's devils wore squids attached to their tails: evile was like Peter Pan--it carried with it the horrifying and horrible gift of eternal youth.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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This entry represents those editions containing only The Third Man. Please do not combine this work with editions that also contain other stories.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140286829, Paperback)

Rollo Martins' usual line is the writing of cheap paperback Westerns under the name of Buck Dexter. But when his old friend Harry Lime invites him to Vienna, he jumps at the chance. With exactly five pounds in his pocket, he arrives only just in time to make it to his friend's funeral. The victim of an apparently banal street accident, the late Mr. Lime, it seems, had been the focus of a criminal investigation, suspected of nothing less than being "the worst racketeer who ever made a dirty living in this city." Martins is determined to clear his friend's name, and begins an investigation of his own...

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:55 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Rollo Martins, invited to Vienna by his schoolmate and hero Harry Lime, arrives just in time to attend Lime's funeral, but when he learns his friend was the subject of a criminal investigation, Martins embarks on a quest to clear Lime's name.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 5 descriptions

Legacy Library: Graham Greene

Graham Greene has a Legacy Library. Legacy libraries are the personal libraries of famous readers, entered by LibraryThing members from the Legacy Libraries group.

See Graham Greene's legacy profile.

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