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Martin Griffin, Reading Espionage Fiction. Narrative, Conflict and Commitment from World War I to the Contemporary Era

Martin Griffin, Reading Espionage Fiction. Narrative, Conflict and Commitment from World War I to the Contemporary Era

Publié le par Marc Escola (Source : Catherine Grech)

This study investigates the ways in which the struggles and loyalties of political modernity have been portrayed in the espionage story over the course of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Reading works by authors such as Somerset Maugham, Helen MacInnes, John le Carré, Sam E. Greenlee and Gerald Seymour as popular literature deserving of sustained attention, this book shows how these narratives have both created a modern genre and, at the same time, sought an escape from its limitations. Martin Griffin takes up the importance of plot and character and argues that, in this branch of fiction, the personal has always and ever been political.

Martin Griffin is Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of Tennessee. He is the author of Ashes of the Mind: War and Memory in Northern Literature, 1865–1900 (2009), co-author of Narrative, Identity, and the Map of Cultural Policy: Once Upon a Time in a Globalized World with Constance DeVereaux (2013), and co-editor of Stories of Nation: Fictions, Politics, and the American Experience with Christopher Hebert (2017).


Introduction: Revisiting Ramón Mercader, 1966

1. The Maugham Paradigm: Performing English Identity amid the Surges of History

2. The Past as Prologue: Antifascism and the Prophetic Mode in Ambler and MacNeice 

3. "We’ll Meet Again": War, Memories, and Loss in MacInnes and Garve

4. John le Carré and the Jews

5. The American Uncertainty: Genre and Borders in Charles McCarry and Don DeLillo

6. Race and Intelligence: African-Americans and the Secret Life

7. The Soldier’s Song: Britain’s Irish War in Gerald Seymour’s Trilogy

8. Espionage Fiction and the Lost Adversary: Carlyle and Mathison

Works Cited



This nuanced study of carefully-selected works emphasises the importance of narrative plot, unsettles the boundaries of genre, and highlights the complexity of political undercurrents in the literature of espionage.

– Conor McCarthy, author of Outlaws and Spies: Legal Exclusion in Law and Literature

Interrogating the "ranking system" of genre fiction, Martin Griffin’s superb, original study of the cloak-and-dagger worlds forged by an array of authors and literary texts—spy thriller exemplars Maugham and le Carré vis-à-vis MacNiece’s poetry and DeLillo’s postmodernism—is destined to retrace literary criticism’s quest for the imagined sleeper agent.

– Gary Edward Holcomb, author of Claude McKay, Code Name Sasha: Queer Black Marxism and the Harlem Renaissance