A Burnt-Out Case

A Burnt-Out Case (1960) is a novel by English author Graham Greene, set in a leproserie on the upper reaches of a tributary of the Congo River in Africa.

A Burnt-Out Case
BurntOutCase
First edition cover
AuthorGraham Greene
Cover artistLacey Everett[1]
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
GenreNovel
Published1960
PublisherHeinemann
Media typePrint (hardback & paperback)

Plot summary

Querry, a famous architect who is fed up with his celebrity,[2] no longer finds meaning in art or pleasure in life. Arriving anonymously in the late 1950s at a Congo leper colony overseen by Catholic missionaries,[3] he is diagnosed – by Dr Colin, the resident doctor who is himself an atheist – as the mental equivalent of a 'burnt-out case': a leper who has gone through the stages of mutilation. However, as Querry loses himself in working for the lepers, his disease of mind slowly approaches a cure.

Querry meets Rycker, a palm-oil plantation owner, and a man of apparently earnest Catholic faith who does not accept his own nothingness and tries to amplify the relevance of Querry's presence in that country. Rycker's wife, a young and ill-educated woman, is absolutely bored with his prudishness and her own lack of freedom.

It is revealed that Querry is a famous architect, known throughout the world for his design and construction of churches – which he himself believes have been defiled by the religious occupants. Querry is persuaded to design and oversee a new building for the hospital.

An English journalist called Parkinson arrives at the village with the intention of writing a series of articles, to be syndicated in many European and North American newspapers, on the subject of Querry's perceived 'saintly' activities in the village, including a story of Querry rescuing his servant – an African mutilated by leprosy- who became lost in the jungle. However Parkinson also brings up Querry's past not only as an architect but also as a womaniser. It is revealed that Querry's former lover committed suicide, thus prompting his journey to the village (however his journey was not the result of feelings of guilt or grief, but rather the incident acted to magnify his growing loss of faith and vocation.) When the first article is published and received at the village, Querry becomes angered by his portrayal, not only by Parkinson, but by Rycker whom Parkinson interviewed for the story. Querry travels to the provincial capital and on the way calls in to confront Rycker. Querry learns that Rycker's wife fears that she is pregnant and that her husband does not want a child (despite having refused contraception and having effectively forced her into sex numerous times). She tells Querry to ask Rycker for permission to travel to the capital Luc to see a doctor. Following a confrontation between Querry and Rycker, Querry leaves for Luc and takes with him Mrs. Rycker so she may visit the doctor, however neither of the two inform Rycker of her departure. Querry never becomes physically intimate with her.

In Luc, Querry and Mrs. Rycker take rooms at the hotel. However, before going to sleep, Querry suspects that Mrs. Rycker is crying in the next room. When he investigates she informs him that she was actually laughing at the novel she is reading – one that would be banned at her home with the pious Rycker – and the two share a bottle of whisky. As Mrs. Rycker is going to sleep, Querry tells her a story which closely parallels his story: a man losing both faith and vocation.

The following morning Parkinson informs Querry that Rycker has arrived in Luc in pursuit of his wife and, upon discovering his wife's diary with an entry stating "Spent the night with Q", Rycker accuses Querry of having an affair. Querry, after briefly meeting Mrs. Rycker and learning that she is pregnant with Rycker's child, leaves Luc and returns to the village, where the construction of the hospital is nearing completion.

Days later Mrs. Rycker arrives at the convent near the village. She tells the sisters and priests that she has been having an affair with Querry and that she is pregnant with his child. When Querry visits her she claims that she thought of Querry whilst having sex with Rycker in an attempt to endure the man, and thus she became pregnant with what she views as Querry's child (despite it being Rycker's). Father Thomas, the temporary supervisor of the village, becomes angry at Querry for bringing shame and sin upon the village (as well as damaging his image as saintly – despite strong objections to having such an image from Querry himself). Rycker arrives at the village and demands to see Querry, who has gone to stay in Dr. Colin's room for the night. Rycker begins to walk to Dr. Colin's stating that a court would never convict him, which troubles the priests – one of whom pursues Rycker to prevent him shooting Querry. Enraged, Rycker confronts Querry. While being accused of adultery, Querry laughs at the absurdity of the accusations. Rycker misinterprets the laugh and becomes angry and shoots Querry, who then dies.

Querry is buried in the village, which fulfills his wish to never return to his old life.

Dedication and literary intentions in novel

Greene dedicated A Burnt-Out Case to Docteur Michel Lechat, a medical doctor at a leper colony in Yonda in Africa (one of a number of such colonies Greene had visited in the Congo and the Cameroons, which had inspired his novel).[4] In his dedication to Lechat, Greene writes: "Doctor Colin has borrowed from you his experience of leprosy and nothing else. Doctor Colin's leproserie is not your leproserie.... From the fathers of your Mission I have stolen the Superior's cheroots--that is all, and from your Bishop the boat that he was so generous as to lend me for a journey up the Ruki."

In reference to the characters in the novel, Greene writes: "It would be a waste of time for anyone to try to identify Querry, the Ryckers, Parkinson, Father Thomas--they are formed from the flotsam of thirty years as a novelist."[4]

Commenting on his literary intentions in the work, Greene wrote that it was, "an attempt to give dramatic expression to various types of belief, half-belief, and non-belief, in the kind of setting, removed from world-politics and house-hold-preoccupations, where such differences are felt acutely and find expression." Drawing a comparison between a leper-colony doctor's work and that of a novelist, Greene adds: "A doctor is not immune from 'the long despair of doing nothing well", the same "cafard that hangs around a writer's life".[4]

See also

References

  1. ^ Existential Ennui: Beautiful British Book Jacket Design of the 1950s and 1960s
  2. ^ Atlas, James (18 January 1981). "A Sort of Autobiography". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
  3. ^ Meeuwis, Michael, Tiny Bouts of Contentment: Rare Film Footage of Graham Greene in The Belgian Congo, March 1959 Rozenberg Quarterly, December 2013.
  4. ^ a b c Greene, Graham (1961). A Burnt-Out Case. New York (Amer. ed.): The Viking Press. p. vii-viii.
1960 in literature

This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1960.

– Mervyn Griffith-Jones prosecuting in the Lady Chatterley's Lover case

20th century in literature

Literature of the 20th century refers to world literature produced during the 20th century (1901 to 2000).

In terms of the Euro-American tradition, the main periods are captured in the bipartite division, Modernist literature and Postmodern literature, flowering from roughly 1900 to 1940 and 1960 to 1990 respectively, divided, as a rule of thumb, by World War II. The somewhat malleable term of contemporary literature is usually applied with a post-1960 cutoff point.

Although these terms (modern, contemporary and postmodern) are most applicable to Western literary history, the rise of the globalization has allowed European literary ideas to spread into non-Western cultures fairly rapidly, so that Asian and African literatures can be included into these divisions with only minor qualifications. And in some ways, such as in Postcolonial literature, writers from non-Western cultures were on the forefront of literary development.

Technological advances during the 20th century allowed cheaper production of books, resulting in a significant rise in production of popular literature and trivial literature, comparable to the similar developments in music. The division of "popular literature" and "high literature" in the 20th century is by no means absolute, and various genres such as detectives or science fiction fluctuate between the two. Largely ignored by mainstream literary criticism for the most of the century, these genres developed their own establishments and critical awards; these include the Nebula Award (since 1965), the British Fantasy Award (since 1971) or the Mythopoeic Awards (since 1971).

Towards the end of the 20th century, electronic literature developed due to the development of hypertext and later the world wide web.

The Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded annually throughout the century (with the exception of 1914, 1918, 1935 and 1940–1943), the first laureate (1901) being Sully Prudhomme. The New York Times Best Seller list has been published since 1942.

The best-selling literary works of the 20th century are estimated to be The Lord of the Rings (1954/55, 150 million copies), Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (1997, 120 million copies) and And Then There Were None (1939, 115 million copies).

The Lord of the Rings was also voted "book of the century" in various surveys.Perry Rhodan (1961 to present) proclaimed as the best-selling book series, with an estimated total of 1 billion copies sold.

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Bolenge

Bolenge is a village located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is located exactly where the geographic equator intersects the Congo River, formerly the Zaire River. Henry Morton Stanley reputedly stopped at Bolenge during his epic voyage across central Africa during the 19th century. In (the late 1890s) 1884 a mission station was established at nearby Wangata by the British Livingstone Inland Mission then moved to Bolenge in 1891 by the American Baptist Missionary Union Baptists. In the 1890s the local missionaries Murphy, Sjoblom and Banks were pioneers in bringing world attention to atrocities by Belgian King Leopold's Congo Free State. (Reference "Mission and State in the Congo" by David Lagergren 1970.) This mission was acquired in 1899 by the American protestant church called the Christian_Church_(Disciples_of_Christ). Eventually a network of mission stations were established throughout the Equateur province of what was at the time known as the Belgian Congo. Each mission station had a hospital and various schools and other social and economic programs.

In 1960 Congo became independent and responsibility for operation of the missions was handed over to local church authorities. Throughout the 1960s until the late 1990s Zaire (as it was then known) underwent a long period of dissolution of much of its infrastructure. Schools, roads, hospitals and commerce in general were severely degraded. In the 1990s Zaire underwent a period of dissolution of the existing dictatorship under Mobutu Sese Seko and endured a period of quasi anarchy and several multinational and civil wars. In 1997 there was a massacre of Hutu refugees perpetrated by military forces at a fishing/trading village near Bolenge. Several hundred individuals were reportedly killed with survivors of the initial attack hunted down and killed in and around Bolenge and the nearby city of Mbandaka.

In 1992 Bolenge was attacked by elements of the Zairian army. The hospital and schools and private homes were all pillaged, resulting in the evacuation of the several foreign missionary families who were living at Bolenge. In July 2005, Bolenge was again attacked by other military personnel in revenge for the murder of a soldier at the nearby military camp. The hospital was again sacked with the loss of most equipment and medicines.

Nearby Bolenge (about five kilometers south) is the Catholic Mission of Iyonda. This mission was the site of a large leprosarium and is reportedly where the British author Graham Greene spent time in gathering material for his novel A Burnt-Out Case, which is set at Iyonda in the 1950s.

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Graham Greene

Henry Graham Greene (2 October 1904 – 3 April 1991), better known by his pen name Graham Greene, was an English novelist regarded by many as one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. Combining literary acclaim with widespread popularity, Greene acquired a reputation early in his lifetime as a major writer, both of serious Catholic novels, and of thrillers (or "entertainments" as he termed them). He was shortlisted, in 1966 and 1967, for the Nobel Prize for Literature. Through 67 years of writings, which included over 25 novels, he explored the ambivalent moral and political issues of the modern world, often through a Catholic perspective.

Although Greene objected strongly to being described as a Roman Catholic novelist, rather than as a novelist who happened to be Catholic, Catholic religious themes are at the root of much of his writing, especially the four major Catholic novels: Brighton Rock, The Power and the Glory, The Heart of the Matter, and The End of the Affair; which have been named "the gold standard" of the Catholic novel. Several works, such as The Confidential Agent, The Quiet American, Our Man in Havana, The Human Factor, and his screenplay for The Third Man, also show Greene's avid interest in the workings and intrigues of international politics and espionage.

Greene was born in Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire into a large, influential family that included the owners of the Greene King Brewery. He boarded at Berkhamsted School in Hertfordshire, where his father taught and became headmaster. Unhappy at the school, he attempted suicide several times. He went up to Balliol College, Oxford, to study history, where, while an undergraduate, he published his first work in 1925—a poorly received volume of poetry, Babbling April. After graduating, Greene worked first as a private tutor and then as a journalist – first on the Nottingham Journal and then as a sub-editor on The Times. He converted to Catholicism in 1926 after meeting his future wife, Vivien Dayrell-Browning. Later in life he took to calling himself a "Catholic agnostic". He published his first novel, The Man Within, in 1929; its favourable reception enabled him to work full-time as a novelist. He supplemented his novelist's income with freelance journalism, and book and film reviews. His 1937 film review of Wee Willie Winkie (for the British journal Night and Day), commented on the sexuality of the nine-year-old star, Shirley Temple. This provoked Twentieth Century Fox to sue, prompting Greene to live in Mexico until after the trial was over. While in Mexico, Greene developed the ideas for The Power and the Glory. Greene originally divided his fiction into two genres (which he described as "entertainments" and "novels"): thrillers—often with notable philosophic edges—such as The Ministry of Fear; and literary works—on which he thought his literary reputation would rest—such as The Power and the Glory.

Greene had a history of depression, which had a profound effect on his writing and personal life. In a letter to his wife, Vivien, he told her that he had "a character profoundly antagonistic to ordinary domestic life," and that "unfortunately, the disease is also one's material." William Golding praised Greene as "the ultimate chronicler of twentieth-century man's consciousness and anxiety." He died in 1991, at age 86, of leukemia, and was buried in Corseaux cemetery.

Graham Greene bibliography

This list is of books by Graham Greene.

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Lees worked as a music technician at Crompton House Church of England High School, involved with the production of the GCSE and A Level students' music and music technology coursework from 2006 until 2012, when he retired. He was often involved in musical productions. Lees also enjoys reading, his favourite books being Graham Greene’s A Burnt-Out Case, science fiction novels (especially those of Ray Bradbury) and poetry. His hobbies include photography and amateur radio. Lees currently lives in Saddleworth, a civil parish in the Metropolitan Borough of Oldham with his wife, Olwen, and they have two children, Esther Jane (born 28 July 1980) and John Joseph (who shares his father’s birthday, being born on 13 January 1986), plus various pets including a grey parrot called Fritz.

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No Man's Land (novel)

No Man's Land is a novella by Graham Greene which was commissioned in 1950 by the film director Carol Reed, although it was not made into a film. The plot is set in Soviet-occupied East Germany shortly after World War II. No Man's Land was published, with a 1949 novella The Stranger's Hand and a foreword to both by David Lodge, in 2005.

Occupational burnout

Occupational burnout is thought to result from long-term, unresolvable, job stress. In 1974, Herbert Freudenberger became the first researcher to publish in a psychology-related journal a paper that used the term burnout. The paper was based on his observations of the volunteer staff (including himself) at a free clinic for drug addicts. He characterized burnout by a set of symptoms that includes exhaustion resulting from work's excessive demands as well as physical symptoms such as headaches and sleeplessness, "quickness to anger" and closed thinking. He observed that the burned-out worker "looks, acts, and seems depressed". After the publication of Freudenberger's original paper, interest in occupational burnout grew. Because the phrase "burnt-out" was part of the title of a 1961 Graham Greene novel, A Burnt-Out Case, which dealt with a doctor working in the Belgian Congo with patients who had leprosy, the phrase may have been in use outside the psychology literature before Freudenberger employed it.In order to study burnout, a number of researchers developed more focused conceptualizations of burnout. In one conceptualization, job-related burnout is characterized by emotional exhaustion, depersonalization (treating clients/students and colleagues in a cynical way), and reduced feelings of work-related personal accomplishment. In another conceptualization, burnout is thought to comprise emotional exhaustion, physical fatigue, and cognitive weariness. A third conceptualization holds that burnout consists of exhaustion and disengagement. The core of the three conceptualizations, as well as Freudenberger's, is exhaustion. Long limited to these dimensions, burnout is now known to involve the full array of depressive symptoms (e.g., low mood, cognitive alterations, sleep disturbance).Originally, Maslach and her colleagues focused on burnout within human service professions (e.g., teachers, social workers). She later expanded the application of burnout to include individuals in many other occupations.

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The Stranger's Hand

The Stranger's Hand (Italian: La mano dello straniero) is a 1954 British-Italianinternational co-production thriller-drama film directed by Mario Soldati. It is based on the draft novel with the same name written by Graham Greene. The plot follows the son of a British MI5 agent kidnapped in Venice by agents of Yugoslavia as he searches for his father.

The first two chapters of The Stranger's Hand had been entered by Greene anonymously under a pseudonym to a competition in the New Statesman to write a book in the style of Graham Greene – a competition in which Greene was amused to win second prize. Soldati had seen the chapters and persuaded Greene to complete the novella to make the basis for a film. Greene expanded it to 30 pages of a "film story", on which Giorgio Bassani and Guy Elmes completed the screenplay.

Twentieth-century English literature

This article is focused on English-language literature rather than the literature of England, so that it includes writers from Scotland, Wales, and the whole of Ireland, as well as literature in English from former British colonies. It also includes, to some extent, the US, though the main article here is American literature.

Modernism is a major literary movement of the first part of the twentieth-century. The term Postmodern literature is used to describe certain tendencies in post-World War II literature.

Irish writers were especially important in the twentieth-century, including James Joyce and later Samuel Beckett, both central figures in the Modernist movement. Americans, like poets T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound and novelist William Faulkner, were other important modernists. British modernists include Joseph Conrad, E. M. Forster, Dorothy Richardson, Virginia Woolf, and D. H. Lawrence. In the mid-twentieth-century major writers started to appear in the various countries of the British Commonwealth, including several Nobel laureates.

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