acters, plots and themes have incisivelyndiagnosed the 20th-century spiritualnmalaise and its symptoms: crime, totalitarianism,nrevolution, corruption. Hisnfiction describes a world that wants tonbelieve that God is dead and tries tonfunction without aspirations or values,nall the while complaining about the unfairnessnof it all. Most of his charactersnare caught in a cosmic tragedy they arentoo spiritually blind to understand, andnlike Milton’s Satan they want to be Godnbut find themselves living, like thenarchfiend, in:nRegions of sorrow, doleful shades,nwhere peacenAnd rest can never dwell,nhope never comesnThat comes to all, but torturenwithout endnStill urges.nEach shares the belief of Marlowe’snMephistopheles that this world “is hell,nnor am I out of it.”nVerities have often had a hard timensorting out Greene’s vision of the world,nin part because they tend to be unsympatheticnto any writer who deals withnreligious themes and in part becausenGreene does not employ any kind ofnambiguity which permits them to demonstratentheir ingenuity. Consequentlynthey have spent a great deal of timentrying to prove him a “Catholic writer,”na Jansenist, a Quietist, an Augustinian,na Pelagian or an existentialist. AsnGreene remarks, “Writing a novel isna little like putting a message into anbottle and flinging it into the sea—nunexpected friends or enemies retrievenit.” But A.A. DeVitis has perhaps mostnaccurately described Greene as a writernwho concerns himself “with the capacitynof the human heart for sacrifice andngreatness within a world governed byna God who seems unreasonable, hostile,nand oftentimes indifferent;. . . with thenall-pervasive nature of grace, the incontestablenmystery of good and evil,nand the inability of man to distinguishnbetween the two.”nNo matter where his characters turn,nthey are unable to find any kind ofnmeaning; they struggle toward somenkind of redemption in a world in which,nas Greene says, “goodness wilts intonphilanthropy, kindness, and thosenstrange vague sicknesses into whichnDickens’s young women so frequentlynfall.” And yet, as he remarks elsewhere,n”I write about situations that are common,nuniversal might be more correct,nin which my characters are involvednand from which only faith can redeemnthem, though often the actual mannernof the redemption is not immediatelynclear. They sin, but there is no limit tonGod’s mercy.” They are not, he says,n”my creation but God’s. They have anneternal destiny. They are not merelynplaying a part for the reader’s amusement.nThey are souls whom Christ triednto save.”nA census of Greene’s fictional peoplenwould provide a dismaying spectrum ofnmodern humanity. All the way fromnAndrews, the smuggler of his firstnnovel, down through the misfits andnmalcontents of his middle books, tonAlfred Jones, the muddling widower ofnhis latest story, the inhabitants of whatnone critic has called “Greeneland”n(Greene hates the term) move through anworld filled with violence, betrayalnand disillusionment. The adolescentnkiller Pinkie Brown (Brighton Rock),nthe pitiful and pitying Scobie (The Heartnof the Matter), the anguished novelistnBendrix (The End of the Affair) are allnsymptomatic of modern culture, for theynstruggle through the dead seas of agnosticismnand impotent liberalism,nhaving lost their spiritual anchors ornnnhaving slipped their religious moorings,nunable any longer to find any star bynwhich to bring themselves to a haven.nInstead they find only death—often bynsuicide or violence—or even deeper disillusionment.nOnly occasionally doesnone, like the whiskey priest of ThenPower and the Glory or Sarah Bendrixnin The End of the Affair, achieve anynkind of redemption, and then only afterna descent into the de profundis. Theirnsainthood, like that of Paul and Augustine,ncomes only after they have rejectednthat which ironically and eventuallynsaves them.nCjreene’s vision of the modernnworld, then, is one which portraysnhumanity as a victim of its own impulsesntoward evil and its rejection of religionnand tradition for the false gods whonhave in turn betrayed them. And so withnBrowning’s Bishop Blougram men findnthat:nAll we have gained then by ournunbeliefnIs a life of doubt diversified by faith,nFor one of faith diversified by doubt:nWe call the chessboard white,—wencall it black.nIn the end Greene seems to suggestnthat all mankind has to hold on to isnfaith—and love. Even so, all too oftennthe misery of the world and the desperationnof the human situation are overwhelming.nWays of Escape is a melancholynbook, for Greene believes that “thenlonger life goes on, the more surelynone finds that old memories will benH H I ^ ^ S OnMay/June 1981n