The Green Man


The Green Man

Written in 1969, "The Green Man" (ISBN 978-0-89733-220-0), is a novel by the noted British author Kingsley Amis. A Times Literary Supplement reviewer described "The Green Man" as “three genres of novel in one”: ghost story, moral fable, and comic novel. The novel reflects Amis’s willingness to experiment with genre novels (e.g., "The Alteration" (science fiction/alternate history), or ) while displaying many of the characteristics of his conventional novels, both in superficial aspects such as fogeyishness and problems with alcohol, and in more substantive aspects such as a self-reflective observation of human cruelty and selfishness in everyday relations.

etting

The novel is set in and around The Green Man, an inn between London and Cambridge owned by Maurice Allington, a 53 year old man with a second wife, a teenage daughter and an 80 year old father living with him in the inn’s upstairs apartment. The inn and its name date back to the 14th century, and the inn’s charm is further embellished by a history of haunting related to a 17th century owner, Thomas Underhill, a Cambridge scholar who dabbled in the occult. Underhill was associated with two unsolved murders, including that of his wife, which could not be traced back to him.

Plot

As the novel unfolds, Allington is beset by a number of difficulties, including his father’s death by stroke at dinner one night, and a drinking problem that causes hypnagogic jactitation and hallucinations; Maurice compounds his problems by pursuing an affair with his doctor’s wife, neglecting his daughter Amy, whose mother, Maurice’s first wife, was run down in an automobile accident, and attempting to seduce both his current wife and his mistress into a menage a trois, which backfires when the two women take an enthusiastic interest in each other and effectively shut him out of the orgy.

During this time Maurice begins to see ghosts around the inn – a red-haired woman, presumably Underhill’s wife, in the hallway, a small bird floating above his bathtub, the specter of Thomas Underhill himself in the dining room – and yet has a difficult time communicating this to his family and friends, who assume that heavy drinking and the stress of his father’s death are causing him to hallucinate. Maurice’s own investigations take him to All Saints’ College, a fictional Cambridge college (modeled on All Souls’ of Oxford) of which Underhill was a fellow, and at which his papers are secreted. There he sees Underhill’s own record of having used his black arts to entice and then ravish young girls from the village.

In the meantime Maurice has discovered his own notes of a drunken, and forgotten, midnight conversation with Underhill, during which Underhill begins to enlist Maurice’s help in his as yet undisclosed scheme. This involves Maurice’s unearthing of Underhill’s nearby grave, in which he finds a pre-Columbian figurine of silver that Underhill requests be brought to another midnight meeting in the inn’s dining room.

That afternoon, having left the scene of the failed orgy, Maurice finds himself in a strange time warp, as it were, in which all molecular motion outside of his drawing room ceases. He finds himself in the presence of a young, suave man who it comes to be understood is God himself. The purpose of the visit is to warn Maurice against Underhill and ask him to aid in Underhill’s destruction, but during the conversation Amis has the young man elaborate an interesting sort of theology, explaining the Creation and God’s powers within it. The young man leaves Maurice with a silver crucifix, as a sort of counter-weight to the silver figurine.

When the midnight meeting comes about, Underhill attempts to delight Maurice with a sort of holographic, yet primitive pornography show; Maurice feels himself as in damp, murky cave, on the walls of which are projected bizarre sexual scenes. As the show becomes more terrifying, Maurice realizes that Underhill has absented himself; when he hears his daughter crying out from the road in front of the inn, he realizes Underhill’s intentions. In the climactic scene, Maurice uses the crucifix to stun Underhill and runs outside, where he confronts the entity Underhill had used the figurine to conjure: the green man, a collocation of branches, twigs and leaves in the form of a large and powerful man. The thing is bent, evidently, on killing Maurice’s daughter Amy. By hurling the figurine back within the graveyard Maurice saps Underhill’s power and destroys the green man. Underhill’s purpose had been, apparently, to have Amy killed as a sort of experiment in lieu of the sexual depredations which are now forbidden him by his lack of corporeality.

A final scene wraps up the novel’s loose ends: Maurice destroys the figurine, and he employs the modish, cynical and repellent parish priest (who makes God out to be, in the young man’s words, a “suburban Mao Tse-tung”) to exorcise Underhill and his green man. Maurice’s wife leaves him (for his mistress), but his daughter proposes, and he agrees to, a plan to move away from The Green Man and get a fresh start. Maurice is somewhat relieved, while recognizing that he will remain until his death trapped in all of the faults, petty and otherwise, that constitute him as Maurice Allington."'

Analysis

The novel is in one sense slight – an enjoyable ghost story laced with the sort of witty and crusty "obiter dicta" common in Amis novels – and yet it constitutes a more than negligible statement about personality, purpose and ethics in the late-20th century world of its setting. Thomas Underhill’s lust for pubescent girls still dominates him after three centuries of extra-corporeal existence – his mastery of the black arts and his circumvention of death have not released him from his banal perversions. Thus Maurice sees something of Underhill in himself when his wife throws up his orchestration of the orgy as just a way of “experimenting” with other people, just as Underhill intended to experiment on Amy, and looks forward, as the novel closes, to the release from his personality that death will bring him. It is not a stretch to see in this Amis’s view of the baby-boomer generation, with its proclivity for “experimental lifestyles” of all sorts that mainly take account only of the individual conducting the experiment (well-represented in the novel by the pseudo-radical priest Tom Rodney Sonnenschein). Indeed, God, as the young man, is seen in the novel as being a sort of experimenter Himself, which earns Him more than a whiff of Amis’s contempt.

Ultimately, even Underhill’s desperate offer, as Maurice has him exorcised, to grant him peace of mind – “I imagined myself not noticing myself for the rest of my life, losing myself, not vainly struggling to lose myself, in poetry and sculpture and my job and other people, not womanizing, not drinking” (242) – cannot tempt Maurice to allow Underhill to go on threatening the young and helpless. And yet, even then, Maurice must wonder about his attachment to himself, with all his vices: “I have often wondered since whether what made up my mind for me was not the unacceptability of the offer as such, whether we are not all so firmly attached, in all senses, to what we are that any radical change, however unarguably for the better, is bound to seem a kind of self-destruction. I shook my head.” (242).

References

* Martin Horstkotte. "Unreliable Narration and the Fantastic in Kingsley Amis's "The Green Man" and Nigel Williams's "Witchcraft". "Extrapolation" 48,1 (2007): 137–151.

TV adaptation

Infobox Film
name = The Green Man


image_size =
caption =
director = Elijah Moshinsky
producer =
writer = Book Author: Kingsley Amis Screenwriter: Malcolm Bradbury
narrator =
starring = Albert Finney
music =
cinematography =
editing =
distributor =
released = 1990
runtime = 150 min.
country = UK
language =
budget =
preceded_by =
followed_by =
website =
amg_id = 1:20886
imdb_id =
"The Green Man" was filmed as a BBC TV mini-series in 1990, starring Albert Finney. Amis later wrote a short story (title unknown at this time; originally published in Playboy magazine), wherein he and his wife may or may not have had their own visitation by The Green Man.

"The Green Man" combines a classic ghost story involving a, possibly, haunted inn with a morality tale in which a self centered hedonist must choose between his immediate desires and facing up to evil.

The TV series won the 1991 BAFTA for Best Original Television Music (by Tim Souster), Finney was nominated for Best Actor, and Masahiro Hirakubo was nominated for Best Film Editor.

According to various sources [http://www.south-central-media.co.uk/report.htm] [http://www.south-central-media.co.uk/chrono_list.htm] [http://www.bbc.co.uk/dorset/content/articles/2004/11/23/film_locations_feature.shtml] , the mini-series was filmed on location with West Dorset doubling as the Cambridgeshire area and Up Cerne Manor House (and possibly Dominey's Yard by Buckland Newton?) representing The Green Man hotel and other exteriors. This photograph of the manor exactly matches The Green Man hotel [http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/838535]

External links

* [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0098813/ The Green Man at the IMDb]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • The Green Man — alias TGM (eigentlich Heiner Kruse, * 21. Februar 1967[1]) ist ein Musiker, Produzent und DJ aus Köln, der in der deutschen und internationalen Drum ’n’ Bass Szene bekannt ist. Nach einigen Jahren DJ Erfahrung in seiner Heimatstadt begann er Ende …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • The Green Man (film) — The Green Man is a 1956 British comedy drama film based on the play Meet A Body by Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat, who produced and adapted the big screen version. Cast*Alastair Sim (Harry Hawkins) *George Cole (William Blake) *Jill Adams (Ann… …   Wikipedia

  • The Green Man (album) — Infobox Album | Name = The Green Man Type = studio Artist = Roy Harper Released = 2000 Recorded = Ireland Genre = Rock Length = 59:58 Label = Science Friction HUCD033 Producer = Roy Harper Reviews = * Allmusic Rating|4|5 [http://www.allmusicguide …   Wikipedia

  • The Delivery Man — Studio album by Elvis Costello and The Imposters Released September 21, 2004 …   Wikipedia

  • The Grinning Man — Infobox Paranormalcreatures Creature Name = The Grinning Man Grouping = Cryptid Extraterrestrial Sub Grouping = AKA = Country = United States Region = Elizabeth, New Jersey Habitat = Unknown First Reported = October 11, 1966 Last Sighted =… …   Wikipedia

  • The Running Man — Menschenjagd (im Original: The Running Man) ist ein Roman des US amerikanischen Autors Stephen King, der als vierter Roman unter Kings Pseudonym „Richard Bachman“ herausgegeben wurde. Veröffentlicht wurde er durch den NAL Verlag im Jahre 1982.… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • The Music Man — This article is about the stage musical. For the 1962 film adaptation, see The Music Man (1962 film). For the 2003 made for television adaptation, see The Music Man (2003 film). For other uses, see Music Man. The Music Man Original Broadway… …   Wikipedia

  • The Omega Man — For the coin counterfeiter, see The Omega Man (counterfeiter). For the manga and anime character, see Omegaman. The Omega Man Theatrical release poster Directed by …   Wikipedia

  • The Running Man — This article is about the novel. For the film, see The Running Man (film). For other uses, see Running man. The Running Man   …   Wikipedia

  • The Clockwise Man — Doctorwhobook title=The Clockwise Man series=New Series Adventures number=1 featuring=Ninth Doctor Rose writer=Justin Richards publisher=BBC Books isbn=ISBN 0 563 48628 7 set between=The Unquiet Dead and The Empty Child pages= date=May 2005… …   Wikipedia