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The Captain and the Enemy (1988)

de Graham Greene

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7141223,294 (3.38)36
Victor Baxter is a young boy when a secretive stranger known simply as "the Captain" takes him from his boarding school to live in London. Victor becomes the surrogate son and companion of a woman named Liza, who renames him "Jim" and depends on him for any news about the world outside their door. Raised in these odd yet touching circumstances, Jim is never quite sure of Liza's relationship to the Captain, who is often away on mysterious errands. It is not until Jim reaches manhood that he confronts the Captain and learns the shocking truth about the man, his allegiances, and the nature of love. This Penguin Classics edition features an introduction by John Auchard.… (mais)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 12 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
MB-6
  Murtra | Nov 25, 2020 |
Great prose, of course, but a few false notes here and there. The intro in the Penguin Classics edition is full of spoilers. ( )
  encephalical | Dec 19, 2018 |
This reminded me of Treasure Island as it starts out with a young man remembering back to childhood and the entrance of a mysterious figure that will change the course of his life. The reader keeps wondering if the mysterious figure is bad or good, and in the end we find out that our own perceptions can often shape the characters of others. This book by Greene had to be an homage to Robert Louis Stevenson - both mysterious figures are called Captain, and both boys are called Jim. With Greene's story we get a different kind of pirate story, but a pirate story nonetheless. This was Greene's last published novel, which I did not know before reading it. Interesting. I really liked it, and the narrator (the fabulous Kenneth Branagh) brought it to life, but the ending felt abrupt and rushed. It had shades of Our Man in Havana, but not as much underlying humor - however, the very last part is brilliant and made me laugh out loud. Highly recommended if you are in the mood for a meandering adventure, but read Treasure Island first - and definitely opt for the audio of The Captain and the Enemy, as Branagh's narration should not be missed. ( )
  Crazymamie | Apr 3, 2017 |
" ‘I get the impression that neither of you trusts the other. Why are you friends?’ ‘I told you – not friends. It’s a game. A serious game – like chess or backgammon. We swap pieces – unimportant pieces – though of course everything in a sense can lead to something important. For his friends or mine."

This is the last novel published during Greene's lifetime. I don't know whether it is the last he wrote, but this is one of the more absurd stories he has concocted.

(From here on there be SPOILERS.)

The story begins with the main character, Victor Baxter, being taken from his boarding school by a stranger. The stranger persuades Victor (with little effort) to stay with a women named Liza in London. Later Victor's father discovers his son's whereabouts but does not appear to care too much about the strange abduction.

Anyway, Victor grows up being cared for by the woman in London and the stranger who "abducted" him from boarding school when he was twelve years old. He refers to the stranger as the Captain. The Captain teaches Victor at home as sending Victor to school would expose the strange setup of Victor's home life to the authorities. Over time, the Captain is absent from the "family" but it remains unclear what keeps the Captain away - all that is known is that he is involved in some criminal and some shady business which eventually takes him to South America.

Victor follows him.

And from this point on, The Captain and the Enemy reads almost like a re-writing of Our Man in Havana, except that this story is bleaker and Greene does not use comedy to veil the sad and contemptuous effects of the espionage business. Instead, he uses absurdity in the form of a movie monster this time to show the love and closeness between the main characters:

"We have both been a burden to him. And then King Kong came back into my mind and the words he had used to me then when I watched the King with his burden – a burden which kicked him so hard that I wondered why he didn’t drop her into the street below: ‘He loves her, boy, can’t you understand that?’ Perhaps I have never understood the nature of love. Perhaps … I wish I had seen him once more or that I hadn’t lied to him at the beginning."

And true to Greene's style, he uses this private joke, the trust, the knowledge of the familiar between Victor, Liza, and the Captain as the Achilles' heel that will seal their fate:

"He touched the papers piled on his desk as though the mere feel of them might convey some answer to his question and then he spoke his thoughts aloud: ‘King Kong. It haunts me that name King Kong. King Kong is the only clue we have. Could he be a name in some elementary book code which is all they would have trusted to an amateur like that? A character in Shakespeare perhaps. Some famous line that even the gringos would recognize. Well, the boy’s gone. He can do no harm to us. All the same … how I would like to break that code of his. King Kong.’ "
( )
  BrokenTune | Aug 21, 2016 |
What to say about this book? Not much. It could be seen as a work that would never have been published if some unknown writer had penned it. What a disappointment for those who hold Graham Green in high regard.
Maybe I'm missing something? Is it an allegorical treatment of Green's early
life? Or an oblique examination of the development of the Modern Novel?
I don' think so. It's just a meandering, tedious story that leads to nowhere in
particular. Only a GG addict would keep reading to the end. Only a GG fanatic
would give it even one star. ( )
  Eamonn12 | Apr 8, 2013 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 12 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
The Captain is revealed as a former marijuana smuggler who is now a friend of the Torrijos regime. Narrator and Captain meet and, improbably, the Captain goes off to a quixotic hero's death.

Improbably. But as we know, Mr. Greene can make the unlikely seem plausible.
adicionado por John_Vaughan | editarNY Times, Brian Moore (Jul 11, 1988)
 
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"Will you be sure to know the good side from the bad, the Captain from the enemy?"  --  George A. Birmingham
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Victor Baxter is a young boy when a secretive stranger known simply as "the Captain" takes him from his boarding school to live in London. Victor becomes the surrogate son and companion of a woman named Liza, who renames him "Jim" and depends on him for any news about the world outside their door. Raised in these odd yet touching circumstances, Jim is never quite sure of Liza's relationship to the Captain, who is often away on mysterious errands. It is not until Jim reaches manhood that he confronts the Captain and learns the shocking truth about the man, his allegiances, and the nature of love. This Penguin Classics edition features an introduction by John Auchard.

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