Graham Greene’s Aesthetics of Design, Sport, and Violence

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Kevin Andrew Hart


This paper argues for the relationship of modernist architectural theory, health and leisure culture, and martial violence in Graham Greene’s early criticism and fiction.  The first section reads Greene’s response to the rhetorical strategies and values of the new architects and argues that Greene draws on that rhetoric in order to associate it with the language and value systems of regimented military violence. The paper then examines Greene’s representation of distinctly modernist recreational spaces like holiday camps and seaside resorts. For Greene, these modernist architectural spaces are also (like the movement’s rhetoric) easily assimilated into systems of discipline and force, as are the athletic games associated with the holiday camp and resort. Moving from recreational to popular culture, the paper reads those same martial qualities in Greene’s treatment of cultural items like story magazines and films. In this manner, Greene’s fiction paints a picture of a culture of conformity to military values which have infiltrated every sector of civilian life - from architectural discourse to sport, leisure, and popular culture. The paper ends with

a short reading of Greene’s descriptions of the Blitz. Paradoxically, it is here alone - in the instant of bombing - that Greene finds a reprieve from the pervasive regimentation of what he views as a culture of increasing discipline, surveillance, and organized brutality.    



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Hart, K. (2018). Graham Greene’s Aesthetics of Design, Sport, and Violence. Journal of Studies in the English Language, 13(2), 28-66. Retrieved from


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