The English writer Graham Greene famously grouped his early fiction into two categories: “novels” and “entertainments.” He reserved the first designation for books he judged to be serious works of literature, contemplative Catholic novels like The Power and the Glory (1940). The second category included escapist narratives, spy thrillers such as The Ministry of Fear (1943). Greene eventually abandoned this distinction, realizing perhaps that his best books troubled easy categorization, but a similar dichotomy has stigmatized modern spy fiction since its inception at the turn of the twentieth century, and the genre has been relegated to (at best) the ranks of the middlebrow and largely excluded from academic discourse. When full-length treatments of espionage fiction began to appear in the last quarter of the last century, they tended to offer themselves either as genre studies, thereby reinforcing old hierarchies of literary value, or as...
Espionage in British Fiction and Film since 1900: The Changing Enemy by Oliver S. Buckton, Espionage and Exile: Fascism and Anti-fascism in British Spy Fiction and Film by Phyllis Lassner
Mark David Kaufman is assistant professor of English at Alvernia University in Reading, Pennsylvania. He has published essays in Hypermedia Joyce Studies, Biography, Public Domain Review, Virginia Woolf Miscellany, and European Journal of American Studies. He is currently at work on a book project focusing on the relationship between modernism and espionage, the weaponization of the humanities during wartime, and the cultivation of writers as spies by the intelligence community.
Mark David Kaufman; Espionage in British Fiction and Film since 1900: The Changing Enemy by Oliver S. Buckton, Espionage and Exile: Fascism and Anti-fascism in British Spy Fiction and Film by Phyllis Lassner. Twentieth-Century Literature 1 March 2018; 64 (1): 111–119. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0041462X-4387749
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