This thesis presents a reading of Graham Greene’s Journey Without Maps (1936) and The Lawless Roads (1939) as an inner, psychological journey, as a search for meaning and a secure sense of self. My claim is, in short, that even though these travel books relate journeys to Liberia and Mexico, they are just as much about Greene’s own self and his home. Central to my discussion is a notion of a deep-felt restlessness and alienation, which marks Greene’s experience of his home in England and the West. The state of the home, as it were, affects the state of the self, crating an unstable and insecure sense of self. Against the negative experience of home, Greene creates an imagined not-home that is projected onto the space of Liberia and Mexico. This not-home is constructed in terms of opposites; it is a space where Greene hopes to find something he finds missing in his home. The not-home, however, is not exactly similar in the two texts. In Journey Without Maps, the imagined not-home represents a primitive state of being that is similar to that of childhood, a state of being that suggests a communal continuity the world. In The Lawless Roads the not-home is imagined as a place where religion matters, as a place where (Catholic) faith can be used as a fixed point of order outside everyday existence.
The journeys importantly may be read as double movements: they are at the same time an escape from the home and a quest or a search for meaning. As Greene moves away from his home and into the unknown (the not-home), his mind drifts towards (memories of) his home. The memories are triggered by the experience of space, and intensify at borders and places that for various reasons resemble the home. Furthermore, the memories present the home on various temporal and spatial levels, pointing to the complexity of the concept of home as well as the important connection between the home and the self.
The search for meaning and the unstable sense of self of the two texts is at the same time generated by and reflected by an unstable narrative structure. In a marked break from earlier, and particularly Victorian travel narratives, the narrative of Journey Without Maps and The Lawless Roads is repeatedly interrupted by analeptic variations that focus on the traveller’s private responses to the events of the road. The narrative flux in these texts may furthermore be connected to the changes that went on in imaginative literature in the modernist period.
The method for my analysis is a close reading; it is a sustained attempt to discover and uncover the diverse rhetorical and narrative strategies of the two texts. I rely heavily on quotes, and my critical comments aim to place these quotes in the texts’ thematic whole. My method is furthermore based on a view of language (and implicitly, of literature) that is influenced by the linguistic discipline of pragmatics. Context, therefore, is of some importance to my reading; I aim to place the texts in the context of other travel books, critical works on travel literature, the context of cultural modernism as well as the context of the historical surroundings.