The Tenth Man (novel)

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The Tenth Man
First Edition Cover
Author Graham Greene
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre Thriller novel
Publisher The Bodley Head and Anthony Blond
Publication date
1 January 1985
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 158 pp
ISBN ISBN 0-370-30831-X
OCLC 11351816
823/.912 19
LC Class PR6013.R44 T4 1985b

The Tenth Man (1985) is a short novel by British novelist Graham Greene.

Background[edit]

In the introduction to the First edition of his novel[1] Graham Greene states that he had forgotten about this story until receiving a letter about it from a stranger in 1983. Greene had first suggested it as an idea for a film script in 1937, and later developed it whilst working for MGM during the 1940s. Nothing came of it and the rights were offered for sale by MGM in 1983. The buyer (Anthony Blond) allowed Greene to revise and subsequently publish the work. Greene also writes of this novel that "I prefer it in many ways to The Third Man" (Greene 1985:10).

Plot summary[edit]

The story begins in a prison in Occupied France during World War II. It is decreed that one in every ten prisoners is to be executed; lots are drawn to decide who will die. One of the men chosen is a rich lawyer. He offers all his money to anyone who will take his place. One man agrees. Upon his release from prison the lawyer must face the consequences of his actions.

The story comprises four parts. In Part I, set in prison, the occupying German guards issue a decimation order to the thirty inmates. One of the three chosen by drawing lots is a rich lawyer named Chavel. Chavel becomes hysterical and desperately offers his entire wealth to any man willing to die in his place. A young man, known as Janvier, accepts his offer and is executed.

In Part II, the war is over and Chavel is alive and free, but virtually destitute. He returns to the house he sold for his life and finds it occupied by Janvier’s mother and sister, Thérèse. Assuming the false name Charlot, he becomes their servant.

Part III sees the arrival of an impostor, named Carosse, who claims to be Chavel. Carosse attempts to denounce Charlot, win the favour of Thérèse and stake a claim on the property.

Finally in Part IV, Charlot, having fallen in love with Thérèse, must save her from Carosse, as a means of redemption from his earlier cowardice.

Characters[edit]

Louis Chavel- The protagonist who buys his life from Janvier, and then goes back to work in his old house at St. Jean de Brinac, also called Charlot

Thérèse Mangeot- Janvier's sister who Chavel tries to use to get back his money and also to get redemption

Janvier- The "Tenth Man" to draw lots, who seems to being dying of tuberculosis, and thus is willing to sell his life in a trade with Chavel. He dies, but achieves his lifelong goal of dying rich. His real name is Michel.

Carosse- A man who pretends to be Chavel by coming to the house. He is apparently a wanted murderer, hears of Chavel's story, and thinks he can use Chavel's name to steal the property that Chavel gave up.

Film, TV or theatrical adaptations[edit]

The book was turned into a TV movie starring Anthony Hopkins as Chavel and Kristin Scott Thomas as Therese in the Hallmark Hall of Fame[2], as well as being adapted by Kate Brooke for the stage at the New End Theatre in 1994.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Greene, Graham (1985). The Tenth Man (Hardcover ed.). United Kingdom: The Bodley Head and Anthony Blond. ISBN 0-370-30831-X. 
  2. ^ "The Tenth Man - IMDB". Internet Movie Database. 1988-12-04.