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The Honorary Consul

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  2,972 Ratings  ·  183 Reviews
The Honorary Consul is a British thriller novel by Graham Greene, published in 1973. It was one of the author's favourite works.

The story is set in an unnamed city in northern Argentina, near the border with Paraguay which can be assumed to be the city of Corrientes.
Paperback, 267 pages
Published by Vintage (first published 1973)
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Description: In a provincial Argentinean town, Charley Fortnum, a British consul with dubious authority and a weakness for drink, is kidnapped by Paraguayan revolutionaries who have mistaken him for the American ambassador. Dr. Eduardo Plarr, a local physician with his own divided loyalties, serves as the negotiator between the rebels and the authorities. These fumbling characters play out an absurd drama of failure, hope, love, and betrayal against a backdrop of political chaos. The Honorary Co
Nov 29, 2016 Fabian rated it really liked it
Greene has two bonafide/genuine masterpieces in "The Quiet American" & "The End of the Affair," but by all rights "The Honorary Consul" takes a very honorary place along "The Power and the Glory"; that is, it's about these incredibly Hollywoodesque (or legends of) important people making choices and suffering the inevitable consequences. In perfect prose, in lucid detail and exquisite, meaningful dialogue, "Consul" is intriguing and exciting at all times. The characters are very much alive, ...more
Feb 16, 2010 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: greeneland
One of his later novels (1973), it was better than I thought it would be. The same themes: love, betrayal, justice, and faith, with a newer one: machismo. Set in northern Argentina on the border with Paraguay, Dr Plarr, of an Argentine mother and British father, seems much older than his 30 years, world-weary.
Not quite as intense as my favorite 4 (The Quiet American; The Heart of the Matter; A Burnt Out Case; The End of the Affair) but it's still Greene in top form and convincing. (Forget Bel Ca
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Honorary Consul, Graham Greene
عنوان: کنسول افتخاری؛ نویسنده: گراهام گرین؛ مترجم: احمد میرعلایی؛ تهران، کتاب زمان، 1356؛ در 386 ص؛ چاپ دیگر: تهران، علم، 1385؛ در 402 ص؛ شابک: 9644056094؛ موضوع: داستانهای انگلیسی قرن 20 م
Nov 26, 2009 Shane rated it liked it

I picked up a Graham Greene novel after a long time and it was pure nostalgia to be transported back to "Greeneland": usually a third-world country with a despotic government, with British expatriates forgotten by Her Majesty's Government, where the men are middle-aged, guilt-ridden and unable to love, men who have lost their faith in God and whose only outlets are the bottle or a prostitute. Where the search for redemption is their only remaining life force.

Dr, Plarr is the central character, a
From BBC radio 4 - Drama :(31/01/2016)
In a conversation with Nicholas Shakespeare, Graham Greene once named 'The Honorary Consul' as his favourite among all his novels, "..because the characters change and that is very difficult to do."

In this superbly tense story of political kidnap and sexual betrayal set at the beginning of Argentina's Dirty War in early 1970s, Greene's characters find themselves on a switchback ride of love, sacrifice and violence.

Isolated Dr Eduardo Plarr, son of a missing
Jun 25, 2015 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: argentina, reread, fiction
The Honorary Consul ranks with the best of Graham Greene's work. It takes me back to my teenage years, when I loved such of his works as The Power and the Glory and The Heart of the Matter. Greene cared a great deal about crises of faith. When I was young, I had none: I was a good Catholic boy. Then, later, things grew more complex. I love that moral complexity in Greene.

This book is about a botched kidnapping. A mixed group of Paraguayan and Argentinian "terrorists" attempt to take the American
Review first posted on BookLikes:

"The God I believe in must be responsible for all the evil as well as for all the saints. He has to be a God made in our image with a night-side as well as a day-side."

The Honorary Consul is somewhat heavier fare than Graham Greene's "entertainments". The justification of man's actions based on faith or based on the conflict created by the expectations of religious instruction and the reality of life features heavily in thi
Luís C.
In a small town in Argentina, Dr. Plarr leads a quiet life among his patients, the other two English there, and his successive mistresses. Until a former classmate, known during his childhood in Paragay, defrocked priest asks him for information on the visit of the US ambassador. Unable to imagine the former friend in the role of a fierce guerrilla, Plarr gaved them. Only, this is not the ambassador who is now removed but by a combination of circumstances, the Honorary Consul of Great Britain, ...more
Moses Kilolo
Aug 24, 2012 Moses Kilolo rated it really liked it
I haven't read any other of Graham Green's work. It is funny that I should have started with this, which is referred to as one his later works. I had mixed feelings from the start. For one, I was excited about reading Green. And, I was drawn back by my own limited understanding of his style, though delicate and touching. Enter Plarr, aged and a doctor of patients he f***s. And the rest of the bunch who orchestrate a kidnapping. Need not be said they know nothing about professional kidnapping. ...more
Justin Evans
May 26, 2011 Justin Evans rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Gabriel Josipovici, in his 'Whatever Happened to Modernism?', slams Greene and most other post-war British writers; he says, I think, only Muriel Spark and someone else are top-rate. He bases this on his own, personal belief that the best writing is self-reflexive. Well, obviously he didn't read 'The Honorary Consul.' Aside from being a great story - up there with my favorite Greenes, Heart of the Matter, Power and Glory, Quiet American, Our Man in Havana - this one's also full of questioning ...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
There's also a priest here. He giggled too, but only once. I had written before, elsewhere here at goodreads, that I hated "The Power and the Glory" where I found the priest there quite ridiculous. I likewise didn't like "The End of the Affair", finding the characters there unreal.

This one, however, is different. I thought, while reading it, and after reading it: "this is how a story should be told." Highly imaginative plot with a lot of possible logical endings but where no one can possibly mak
Oct 06, 2009 Adam rated it it was amazing
Shelves: black-comedy
This book doesn’t seem to have much of reputation as some of Greene’s other works, which is too bad as it is excellent and even brilliant. In fact it might be one of my favorites. This has every element I look for in a Greene novel but with a stronger emotional charge. The characters with their foibles seem to be a cast for a comedy but instead are players in a heart wrenching tragedy. Like in his Comedians the line between slit your wrist despair and humor is very hard to find though the ...more
Rachel Stevenson
Mar 02, 2015 Rachel Stevenson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Any modern novel set in Central Africa or South America that features a weary middle-aged man as its protagonist is invariably compared to a book from Graham Greene's oeuvre. To me, the country where he places his characters (Argentina, Sierra Leone, Mexico, Vietnam) isn't important, it's only the fact that they are outsiders, keeping British values in countries where these moral codes have become irrelevant, that is significant.

Although the setting of Greene's books is interchangeable, the deta
Sep 09, 2015 Raquel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Greene já me conquistara com 'O Fim da Aventura' - e foi, aliás, pelo que esta obra me ofereceu que uma edição novinha em folha, antiga e muito bonita d'O Cônsul Honorário' não me escapou nos alfarrabistas da Feira do Livro. Nem sei porque demorei tanto tempo a reflectir e a querer escrever sobre ele, depois de o ter lido quase de uma assentada. Mas tinha de de escrever, de uma forma ou de outra, pela experiência que é conhecer as histórias e as personagens de Greene.

texto completo em
May 07, 2013 Sonya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Claustrophobic, tense, highly atmospheric. Very evocative of provincial Argentina, with characters who are fascinating in their context, but who also suggest various moral, political, social and religious types outside the links with their physical environment. Really engaging. The ending has stayed with me. Still mulling it all over.
Nov 07, 2010 Dave rated it really liked it
Not as powerful as 'The Power and the Glory,' not as funny as 'Our Man in Havana,' Greene still builds suspense and psychological depth, and provides the occasional laugh. I read somewhere that this was one of his personal favorites. The ending surprised me a bit, but not in a bad way.
Jacob LW DelValley
Oct 11, 2016 Jacob LW DelValley rated it liked it
Shelves: crime, classics
Jan 04, 2014 Zachary rated it really liked it
Shelves: chestertonian
I am so very happy to have found a modern Catholic (and non-cleric) author of fiction who can actually write. "The Honorary Consul" was a very good read, and left quite a lot ot ponder in the way of God's goodness, liberation theology, and love.

The character of the excommunicated priest was particularly interesting because, while he tried very hard to convince himself otherwise, he could never quite shake off his orthodoxy. Even while he speculated stringently on "the night side of God" (271), h
Marcia Lonteen-Martin
I have just discovered Graham Greene in the last couple months. At the Border sales I picked up this and Monsieur Quixote and really liked both of them. I really need to read The Power and the Glory. Anyway, this was a good read, different than most books I usually read. In The Honorary Consul the reader meets a group of randomly gathered characters in a small Argentinian town. The main viewpoint is through Dr. Eduardo Parr, a doctor who is serving the poor in the barrio. He is one of three ...more
Jan 15, 2014 Whisper19 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1001
Other books by Graham Greene I've read are better, but this one also has some very interesting dialogues - the one that stands out is the discussion on the nature of God and man's relation to God that takes place in the final chapters of the book. I love how Greene just pours out this argument that brews in all of us - why are these things happening? What kind of "God" would allow Hitler and Stalin to be born? and many others. It is also evident, like in his other novels, that there is no right ...more
Elliot Ratzman
Greene’s Catholicism and Marxism come together in this tragicomic work set in South America in the early 1970s. Before we in the North had heard about Liberation Theology, Greene puts the critique of the fallen church on the front burner from the mouth of a revolutionary ex-priest—a reverse of Silone’s Bread and Wine. Like Simone Weil or Father Camilo Torres, the priest-turned-revolutionary bumbles his political action by kidnapping a minor “honorary” counsel rather than the American ambassador. ...more
May 30, 2016 Ed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The moral ambiguities and uncertain loyalties of Greeneland, the stunted emotional landscape where Graham Greene's characters find themselves, is a terrifying place to visit and a horribly boring place to live. Charley Fortnum--the name redolent of English high tea, for which one shops at Fornum and Mason--is an alcoholic expatriate living in Argentina, possibly no longer able to (or interested in) returning to the sceptered isle that was his homeland. When bungling revolutionaries miss the ...more
Anastasia Hobbet
Mar 11, 2010 Anastasia Hobbet rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novel
Greene wrote this intricate and delicate novel late in his career, when he was pretty well stewed by alcohol and a lifetime of general dissolution. He thought it was, perhaps, the best of his works. As I read it, I thought, No way. Even tho several of his novels are on my all-time favorite list, I found the going a little tedious in this book, and here and there I sighed and thought, (forgive me, Graham), same-old, same-old. Oh, you know: the sweaty misery, the black-hearted doubt of faith, the ...more
Seamus Mcduff
Aug 25, 2014 Seamus Mcduff rated it really liked it
For me this was a toss up between a 3 and a 4. It's pretty standard Graham Greene fare.

Some of the Catholic soul-searching becomes a bit tedious towards the end of the book, I think. What saves it is the bleak humour, and the character of the honorary consul himself, an alcoholic minor official who's accidentally abducted by some Marxist revolutionaries. The consul is unable to function without the 'proper measure' of Long John whiskey.

Graham Greene is well loved as a story teller, but still I t
Apr 04, 2014 Annie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-challenge
So this was GG's favourite among his novels. Hmm. Compared to the others I've read, I'd say it is certainly more controlled: the ironies are more subtle; the characters are less stridently symbolic; the story carries the themes rather than the other way around. But somehow, in the absence of those same heavy-handed Greenisms which sometimes rankle in the earlier "serious" novels, this new restraint comes off as battle-fatigue rather than maturity. The world's moral/political conundrums and the ...more
Mar 02, 2010 Mateo rated it liked it
Vintage late-period Graham Greene: well-plotted, with interesting characters, a sustaining premise, and enough plot and relationship wrinkles to challenge a mid-size steam iron. Reads well, too. Unfortunately, the book starts out very promisingly and rather peters out in the second half into long, static discussions about the nature of God and faith, discussions that I'm sure were more interesting to Catholic convert (and liberation theology supporter) Greene than to someone like myself, for ...more
Antonina Sh
Weird how reading about boredom, loneliness, inability to love can be so fascinating. Again, wasn't getting so much into the detective and political side of the story (and i don't think it was so much the point here), as was more interested in personality struggle, emotional thirst, loneliness that freedom seems to be bringing along.

Seems like a very ‘male’ story of course. Women are somewhere in the background, no feelings, no judgment, no emotions. overall, leaves some bitter emotional aftert
Rui Alves de Sousa
Nov 27, 2013 Rui Alves de Sousa rated it really liked it
Um dos trabalhos preferidos do autor Graham Greene, «O Cônsul Honorário» é uma obra intensa e provocadora que volta a refletir o estado de espírito de Greene, as suas crenças e o confronto interno que ele sente com as mesmas. As personagens são notáveis, e o livro é viciante. Mas eu li-o o mais devagar possível porque não só a vida atarefada me impede de concentrar nas leituras como gosto, como também porque não queria afastar-me do "elenco" desta grande trama política e religiosa que envolve um ...more
Sandy Millin
Sep 05, 2015 Sandy Millin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the change to revisit this part of the world, and although it was written about 40 years before I went to Paraguay and Argentina, the history seemed very fresh in people's minds. It's a small story that encompasses the large stories of both countries. I found the characters interesting and I wanted to know how it would develop. I also found it funny in a very dry way - I didn't laugh much but I smiled often. It's the first time I've read Graham Greene and I'll definitely read more.
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Henry Graham Greene, OM, CH was an English novelist, short story writer, playwright, screenplay writer, travel writer and critic whose works explore the ambivalent moral and political issues of the modern world. Greene combined serious literary acclaim with wide popularity.

Although Greene objected strongly to being described as a “Catholic novelist” rather than as a “novelist who happened to be Ca
More about Graham Greene...

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“I have never met a simple man. Not even in the confessional, though I used to sit there for hours on end. Man was not created simple. When I was a young priest, I used to try to unravel what motives a man or woman had, what temptations and self-delusions. But I soon learned to give all that up, because there was never a straight answer. No one was simple enough for me to understand. In the end I would just say, 'Three Our Fathers, Three Hail Marys. Go in peace.” 1 likes
“I have to think of all the possibilities, doctor. Even a crime of passion is possible.’ ‘Passion?’ the doctor smiled. ‘I am an Englishman.” 1 likes
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