The Heart of the Matter (1948) is a novel by English author Graham Greene. The book details a life-changing moral crisis for Henry Scobie. Greene, a British intelligence officer in Freetown, Sierra Leone, drew on his experience there. Although Freetown is not mentioned in the novel, Greene confirms the location in his memoir, Ways of Escape.
The Heart of the Matter was enormously popular, selling over 300,000 copies in the United Kingdom upon its release. It won the 1948 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction. In 1998, the Modern Library ranked The Heart of the Matter 40th on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.. In 2005, the novel was chosen by TIME magazine as one of the one hundred best English-language novels from 1923 to the present. In 2012, it was shortlisted for the Best of the James Tait Black.
The book's title appears halfway through the novel:
If one knew, he wondered, the facts, would one have to feel pity even for the planets? If one reached what they called the heart of the matter? No.
• 1 Plot summary
• 2 Characters
• 3 Main themes
• 4 Critical response
• 5 Editions
• 6 Film
• 7 References
• 8 External links
Major Henry Scobie a long-serving policeman in a British colony on the West Coast of Africa during World War II, is responsible for local security during wartime. His wife Louise, an unhappy, solitary woman who loves literature and poetry, cannot make friends. Scobie feels responsible for her misery, but does not love her. Their only child, Catherine, died in England several years before. Louise is a devout Catholic. Scobie is a convert and devout. Scobie is passed over for promotion to Commissioner, which upsets Louise both for her personal ambition and her hope that the local British community will begin to accept her. Louise asks Scobie if she can go and live in South Africa to escape the life she hates.
At the same time, a new inspector, named Wilson,...