Graham Greene Stars in a New Graphic Novel Published in France
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Many consider Graham Greene, who died 26 years ago this April, as one of Britain's most important writers from the 20th century. Besides being a prolific novelist and screenwriter, he was also, like a number of authors including Somerset Maugham and Arthur Ransome, in the employ of MI6, Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, mainly during wartime. Greene worked with Kim Philby during World War II, and remained in contact with him even after the double agent’s defection to Moscow in 1963. So Greene was well placed to write political thrillers. He also wrote the screenplay for one of the most successful films that closed the 1940s: Carol Reed's stylish noir, The Third Man, takes place in post-war Vienna, starring Joseph Cotten and Orson Welles. Greene's eponymous novella was written as preparation for the film, which describes black-market corruption in the depressed city, shattered by war.
Now, the American illustrator Miles Hyman and the French editor, screen and scriptwriter Jean-Luc Fromental have joined forces to create a thrilling new graphic novel, Le Coup de Prague (The Prague Coup), in which Greene and his presence in Vienna doing research for the film, The Third Man, are the central themes.
Post-war Vienna was divided into four zones and controlled by the Russians, British, Americans, and the French. The four nations shared control of the city center. Ravaged Vienna is the backdrop for Hyman and Fromental's book in which the fictitious Elizabeth Montaigu, an actress and spy, is asked to be Graham Greene's tour guide while he visits the city for his screenplay. Montaigu soon realizes that Greene is actually at the center of a shady spy story that involves English, American, and Russian secret services and traffickers of all sorts.
The title Coup de Prague refers to the 1948 Soviet-backed Communist coup in Czechoslovakia. Graham Greene had in fact traveled to Prague from Vienna for a week on his way to Venice, to see his Czech publisher. There, he witnessed the Prague Coup,which he describes in his autobiography, Ways Of Escape. It is within the fine line that separates fact and faction that Fromental has written the graphic novel's script, with Greene, ever an inspiration as an author, but also in his fascinating personal life, as the leading man. The graphic novel is published by Aire Libre and will be out in in French on April 14. A translation is hopefully forthcoming.