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The Third Man (novella)

  • Type: Novel

The Third Man was never written to be read but only to be seen. Like many love affairs, it started at a dinner table and continued with many headaches in many places, Vienna, Venice, Ravello, London, Santa Monica.

Most novelists, I suppose, carry round in their heads or in their notebooks the first ideas for stories that have never come to be written. Sometimes one turns them over after many years and thinks regretfully that they would have been good once, in a time now dead. So twenty years back, on the flap of an envelope, I had written an opening paragraph:

I had paid my last farewell to Harry a week ago, when his coffin was lowered into the frozen February ground, so that it was with incredulity that I saw him pass by, without a sign of recognition, among the host of strangers in the Strand.

To me it is almost impossible to write a film play without first writing a story. Even a film depends on more than plot, on a certain measure of characterization, on mood and atmosphere, and these it seems to me almost impossible to capture for the first time in the dull shorthand of a script. One can reproduce an effect caught in another medium but one cannot make the first act of creation in script form. One must have the sense of more material than one need to draw on. The Third Man, therefore, though never intended for publication, had to start as a story before it began those apparently interminable transformations from one treatment to another.

But The Third Man was never intended to be more than the raw material for a picture. The reader will notice many differences between the story and the film, and he should not imagine these changes were forced on an unwilling author: as likely as not they were suggested by the author. The film, in fact, is better than the story because it is in this case the finished state of the story. - Graham Greene, preface to The Third Man




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Places
  • Vienna, AT, Austria "The Third Man" is set in Vienna, Austria.
  • West End London, ... so that it was with incredulity that I saw him pass by, without a sign of recognition, among the host of strangers in the Strand.

Timeline

Y/M/D Association Description Place Locale Food Event
1930/00/00 Greene writes the 1st paragraph: I had paid my last farewell to Harry a week ago, when his coffin was lowered into the frozen February ground, so that it was with incredulity that I saw him pass by ... among the host of strangers in the Strand.
1948/00/00 Graham Greene Author Looking to produce a film involving the four-power occupation of Vienna, Alexander Korda ask Graham Greene to write a film for Carol Reed to follow their feature film "Fallen Idol".
1950/03/20 Graham Greene Author "The Third Man (novella)" is published in the United States by Viking Press.
1950/03/20 Viking Press Publisher "The Third Man (novella)" is published in the United States by Viking Press.

Information »



Particulars for The Third Man (novella):
Art Type Book a written or printed work consisting of pages glued or sewn together along one side and bound in covers.
Narrative Arts Fiction prose literature, especially short stories and novels, that describes imaginary events and people
Narrative Arts Mystery something that is difficult or impossible to understand or explain
Narrative Arts Narrative Prose ordinary written language which tells a story
Art Type Novel long form fiction narrative that is at least 40,000 words in length




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