The Third Man

Graham Greene

Read June 2005

I found a copy of this book in Mainz, Germany. It was in a series that reprints English fiction in a very concise, light format, with German phrases at the bottom of every page to translate idiomatic or situational English—so I get to work on my German a little, too. (The annotations are surprisingly thorough and detailed—so that's how the Germans develop such idiomatic English!)

Greene's book is a classic thriller, though the movie version is perhaps more famous. In the preface, Greene says he finds movie script to be a terrible medium for developing material. He believes it's crucial to first write it out in some other form, such as a story, before turning it into script: ``One can reproduce an effect caught in another medium, but one cannot make the first act of creation in script form.'' Indeed, he acknowledges that the movie not only deviates from the book, but does so intentionally; the author himself suggested some of the changes, and regards the book as preliminary. The most dramatic change he describes plainly as follows: ``the popular line of dialog concerning Swiss cuckoo clocks was written into the script by Mr. Welles himself''.