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The Third Man and The Fallen Idol (Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin) Paperback – July 1, 1992


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Product Details

  • Series: Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (July 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014018533X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140185331
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #276,658 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“A master storyteller, one of the first to write in cinematic style with razor-sharp images moving with kinetic force.” – Newsweek --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Inside Flap

The Third Man is Greene?s brilliant recreation of post-war Vienna. Rollo Martins, a second-rate novelist, arrives penniless to visit his friend and hero, Harry Lime. But Harry has died in suspicious circumstances, and the police are closing in on his associates.

The Fallen Idol is the chilling story of a small boy caught up in the games adults play. Left in the care of the
butler and his wife while his parents go on holiday, Philip realizes too late the danger of lies and deceit. But the truth is even deadlier. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Both stories were good, non-taxing reads.
J. Wood
If you're a fan of The Third Man as a movie, this will be an enjoyable read going over the same ground.
Paul Hughes
It is a good piece of writing with believable characters and an engaging plot.
A. T. A. Oliveira

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on June 24, 2005
Format: Paperback
The Third Man, written originally as the outline for the screenplay of Carol Reed's famous 1949 film of the same name, is set in occupied Vienna just after World War II. The sectors established by the conquering British, Americans, French, and Russians contribute to an atmosphere of tension and mystery, and an almost palpable aura of menace as residents and visitors alike must deal with four different governments, four sets of officials, and four collections of laws as they move throughout the city.

Rollo Martins, an author of cowboy novels, arrives in Vienna to visit an old school friend, Harry Lime, only to find that he has arrived on the day of Lime's funeral. Investigating Lime's death, Martins learns that a neighbor saw the traffic accident that killed Lime and observed three men carrying Lime's body from the scene. Only two of those men have been identified--the third man has vanished.

As Martins investigates Lime's death, the novel is by turns exciting and darkly humorous, intensely visual in its descriptions and action, but lacking the characterization and thematic focus which one associates with most of Greene's work. The novella is full of wit and dark theatrics, and includes everything from a chase through the sewers to a love story.

The Fallen Idol, sometimes known as "The Basement Room," is, by contrast, a psychological, rather than plot-based story. Nine-year-old Philip, who idolizes the family's butler Baines, since his parents pay little attention to him, is left with Baines and his wife while the parents go on vacation. Baines is having an affair, and Philip innocently discloses this to his wife.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A. T. A. Oliveira on August 21, 2005
Format: Paperback
As Graham Greene admits in the preface of the novella "The Third Man", this story 'was never written to be read but only to be seen'. When invite by director Carol Reed to write a screenplay, the British novelist decided to write a short story first and then develop the script. As he confess, it is too hard to write a movie without having worked on the story previously, because the movie depends also on characterization, mood and atmosphere, and these are hard to be captured in the first time in a screenplay.

"The Fallen Idol" on the other hand, was already a published story when Reed invited Greene to work in the screenplay. The writer suspected it wouldn't be a good movie, but accepted the 'challenge' due to the respected he had for the director.

Greene wrote "The Third Man" only as a blueprint for the script and, nevertheless, both story and movie are great. It is a novella with a little more than 100 pages, and yet largely entertaining, as the writer wanted it to be. Not many writers are capable of doing such a amazing story without pretension -- because it is not easy to acquire simplicity.

The plot is not complicated as well. A British writer arrives in the pos-War divided Vienna to meet an old friend, who turns out to be dead. But there are some suspicious events surrounding his death -- and he also has a gorgeous girlfriend, who is very sad. Rollo, the main character, ends up investigating the death and there comes many twists in the plot of the story.

"The Third Man" is a very short narrative, nevertheless, Greene succeeded in all he wanted. More than anything, the story has atmosphere. Vienna is destroyed, picking up the pieces -- so are the characters who are caught in a plot bigger than themselves.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 6, 1999
Format: Paperback
The author states in the preface that "The Third Man" was never written to be read but only to be seen" which perhaps explains the sketchy treatment of characters throughout the story.At times I was confused by the various people in the book and had to reread some pages.The storyline was interesting and quite exciting and I look forward to seeing the film. The other story in the book,"The Fallen Idol",is only 30 pages long but Greene manages to convey a sinister atmosphere and great depth of characters-a very enjoyable story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By stoic VINE VOICE on November 7, 2009
Format: Paperback
Penguin has released a thin volume that contains Graham Greene's novella The Third Man and his short story The Fallen Idol. Moviemakers turned both of these works into successful films. I recommend this volume, though I enjoyed The Third Man much more than I enjoyed The Fallen Idol.

The Third Man is much more famous than The Fallen Idol. The novella concerns a hack writer who journeys to Vienna, Austria, to see a friend shortly after World War II. Once in Austria, the writer finds that his friend has died under mysterious circumstances. The writer begins to investigate and finds that his friend was involved in some repellent activities.

There are many things to like about The Third Man. Greene does a great job of evoking Vienna. Prior to reading the book, I was unaware that each of the four Allied Powers had governed part of Vienna after World War II; Greene weaves the post-war tensions among the Allies into his story. Greene also paints vivid images of Vienna as a cold, ruined city struggling through winter.

Another great aspect of The Third Man is its characters. Greene had a talent for writing about characters facing complex moral questions. Unlike so many other writers, Greene never gives his characters (and his readers) an "easy out"; whatever decision the character makes is bound to be imperfect and painful. The manner in which Greene's characters respond to these situations is both revealing and fascinating.

The publisher tacked on The Fallen Idol in an apparent effort to bulk up the book. (The Third Man is only 120 pages and The Fallen Idol is about 35 pages). I liked the plot of The Fallen Idol; in the story a young boy is exposed the failures and deceits of adults.
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