Graham Greene Possessed

Brigid Brophy

  • Doctor Fischer of Geneva. Or The Bomb Party by Graham Greene
    Bodley Head, 140 pp, £4.50, March 1980, ISBN 0 370 30316 4

What can have possessed Graham Greene? The answer, I suspect, is the ghost of Thomas Mann. The Swiss setting of Doctor Fischer of Geneva might be determined by some generic effluvium of Mann, a compound of his Magic (Swiss) Mountain, his post-war return to Switzerland and, perhaps, his rather landlocked position at the centre of European letters. But the Dybbuk that seems to have taken over Mr Greene’s imagination is specific: German Mann, pre-war Mann, long-short-story Mann (author of, in particular, that other piece of magic-making, Mario and the Magician) and, positively and peculiarly, Mann in translation.

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