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We examine the process by which Greene produced the memoir Getting to Know the General and The Captain and the Enemy out of his trips to Panama from 1976 to 1983. We argue that in both the process was ‘fuliginous’, that is complex and opaque, resulting in works that defy generic expectations. We explore why he failed to write the novel to be set in Panama that he had entitled On the Way Back. Citing extracts from the diaries in which he began to plan the novel, we consider the reasons for his failure, using Cyril Connolly’s Enemies of Promise to illustrate the precariousness of the creative process.

Finally we conclude that out of the fuliginous processes emerged Greene the man with a clear and simple status as a supporter of the weak against the strong.


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19 Jul 2022
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  • Alternative title
    • Greene's Panama

  • Journal title
    • Graham Greene Studies

  • Volume
    • 2

  • Issue
    • 1

  • Date submitted

    19 July 2022

  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      Dr Jon Wise, joint bibliographer of the Graham Greene Archives, generously shared the notes he made of the Panama Diaries, in Georgetown University archives.