Норец Максим Вадимович
Крымский федеральный университет им. В.И. Вернадского
доктор филологических наук, доцент кафедры теории и практики перевода

Данная работа посвящена анализу творчества писателей периода второй мировой войны, внесших весомый вклад в формирование жанра английского шпионского романа. В исследовании предпринимается попытка проанализировать развитие жанра английского шпионского романа в военный период, в контексте происходящих исторических событий, с учётом факта причастности автора тем или иным образом к деятельности британских спецслужб. В фокус анализа автора попадает новые формы реализации сюжетной линии и модификации протагониста.

Ключевые слова: детектив, жанровая доминанта, жанровый код, сюжет, шпионская история, шпионский роман


Norets Maxim Vadimovich
The Crimean Federal University
PhD in philology, associate Professor of theory and practice of translation

This work is dedicated to the analysis of works of the Second World War period writers, who contributed much to the forming of the English spy novel genre. This investigation is an attempt to analyze the development of this genre during the period of war in the context of historical events, taking into account the fact that the author somehow belongs to British secret agencies. The focus of the author's analysis is concentrated on new forms of realization of the plot line and modifications of the protagonist.

Keywords: detective, dominant genre, genre code, plot, spy novel, spy story


Библиографическая ссылка на статью:
Норец М.В. English “war” spy novel during the period of the Second World War II // Современные научные исследования и инновации. 2015. № 5. Ч. 4 [Электронный ресурс]. URL: https://web.snauka.ru/issues/2015/05/50301 (дата обращения: 07.09.2023).

The years of war did not become the golden age of literature. Although, sad disappointment, which characterized the appearance of English writers after the defeat of republican forces in Spain in 1939, gave way to some feeling of rise after the victory over Nazi Germany. This rise is notable in publicism of B. Shaw [11], as well as in playwriting of O’Casey [7] and first novels of J. Aldridge [9]. But the whole social atmosphere did not contribute to the blossom of genuine art. Cynicism in policy, fatigue, the feeling of pointless existence and the tendency to escape responsibility raised a question towards writers, playwrights and poets on how to save “own face”.

The real adversity was the distribution of pseudo literature. The richest owners of publishing firms advertize, finance and distribute that kind of “fiction” or lionize murderers, violators, racists. Cheap “paperbacks” – sensational fiction and detectives in clamorous, “suspenseful” covers – are mostly designed for a reader, lacking any literature taste; usually, they are written by people, who don’t have a direct relationship to literature. These books attract by a criminal story line and, which is usually more unlikely, the accumulation of horrors, promotion of violence, sex, crimes, the morale of commercialism and bring up the idolism of moneybags and the pursuit of wealth at any price.

Although that kind of “literature” is way beyond artwork, it would be a mistake to underestimate its influence on an average customer. Being published in multimillion editions and supported by advertising, it is widely spread and read among all levels of English people.

But novels by crime fiction “veterans”, such as Agatha Christie [3] and other similar authors, are still popular. In the beginning of the 40th and 50th detective stories about crimes and criminals were replaced with novels that were involving political problems, problematics of relations between countries during the World War and right after its end, the so-called spy novel genre. During the course of its development, this genre transforms, taking new forms of the plot vector and modified protagonist realization. The general tendency for the mentioned period can be pointed out as the ethical and moral deformation of the protagonist image, due to the war time, from “romantic” to “prosaic”. The protagonist of an English spy novel of the World War II period is already clear from the ties of moral duties in fulfillment of the spy activity. The successful realization of the mission, imposed on him by the country, becomes the first coming target for him as far as the whole course of the country’s further military operations depends on its results. So, one may say that the motivation of intelligence activity realization was deeply changed. The moral perception of responsibility was intensified, a clear practical task and ways of its accomplishment from the moral basis of personality got detached. Both the morality and the task are each on their own. Talking about Spy novels of the World War II period it is necessary to underline their structural and typological particularity of plot organization. Novels, written during the period of the Second World War, as a rule, reflected either the Big Game of Intelligence services of rival countries or singular commando-type reconnaissance operations. In our opinion it is necessary to mention that authors of Spy novels in direct or indirect ways had an attitude to the Great Britain’s State Intelligence service, which was brightly reflected in details of novels. The spy novel genre of the WWII period is characterized by burst of novels, the plot of which aimed at covering events which took place on the world stage of
military relations. Among writers, whose works fell at the World War II period, it is important to mention the creative work of Graham Greene [2], who was a professional soldier of the Great Britain’s Intelligence service. He joined the Intelligence Service in 1941, where he was successfully serving, particularly, in Sierra Leone, and resigned at the rank of colonel. In his novels G. Greene presented his experience gained during the service. Every his novel reflects a specific military-intelligence operation with a description of work approaches and methods of British Intelligence Agencies.

We may call another bright representative of the spy novel genre during the period of WWII – Ted Allbeury [8], who was an intelligence officer. He was serving in the British Intelligence service during the whole course of World War II (1939-1947), having resigned at the rank of lieutenant colonel. He fulfilled himself as a master of the spy novel genre in the world of letters.

In the history of the spy novel genre development one can certainly call the first ever woman writer – Helen MacInnes. Helen Clark MacInnes was born on October 7, 1907 in Glasgow (Scotland). She was brought up by her parents in the frames of traditional strict Protestantism. She earned a degree in the University of Glasgow, then in University College London, where she became a specialist in librarianship.

As Helen had a good command of several European languages, she was helping her husband Gilbert to do German translations, which he was doing by order of the secret service, where he was a regular officer at that moment. Helen was a mastermind of ideas and solutions of politic problems, which her husband was responsible for.

Due to practically unlimited access to secret files of her husband she could learn in full measure the real situation in the given period and realize the nature of Nazi tyranny, methods and principles of German Intelligence Services activity.

To our opinion, we should mention another author of spy novels – Dennis Yates Wheatley [1]. Wheatley was born on January 8, 1897, in London. His creative work is defined by his biography. He received his education in Dulwich College, but was expelled from it because of academic failure. During World War I he was serving in Royal Artillery regiment, but was gassed and then dismissed from the army.

His politic novels promoted an invitation from MI5, where with the help of his imagination he was composing analytical notes with different propositions, which helped on a possible intrusion prevention to England. The success of his analysis leads to the fact that in 1945 Wheatley headed the team of Winston Churchill’s counselors. After the war he was awarded Bronze Star for his services.

From our point of view, spy novels by Robert Chatham [10] deserve attention because they are written in a very realistic manner. The plot line in them is alike to the one in Ted Allbeury’s novels. [8]. Robert Chatham (5 June, 1911 – 1 January, 1985) – the pseudonym of Ronald Sydney Seth, was a British writer, who in the period of WWII was a secret servant of English Intelligence Service. After the war he wrote several novels about the Intelligence service. Due attention should be given to the novel “Secret Servants” [10] as it was written by Seth based on Japanese archival materials, a thing that nobody had ever done before. The author briefly recites the history of Japanese spying, mentions a lot of interesting facts about the activity of Japanese spies in various countries.

We ought to mention the creative work of another author, who wrote a series of spy novels, describing real events of WWII – Alistair Stuart MacLean [4-6]. He was born on April 28, 1922 in Glasgow (Scotland). His mother, Mary Lament MacLean was a very religious woman, keen on singing, and his father, who was also Alistair Maclean – was a clergy of the Church of Scotland, as well as an author of a few religious books.

During the early of World War II Alistair MacLean joined the Royal Navy as a volunteer, where he was serving in naval intelligence and performing covert operations for British Intelligence Service in different parts of the world, particularly in Russia. The real danger, which he was facing during the activity, gave him rich material for his works. MacLean served on HMS Royalist, the basic function of which was escorting American convoys with humanitarian cargo on their way to Murmansk. He reflected his experience in his first novel – “H.M.S. Ulysses”, 1955 [5]. With the opening of the second front, the convoys finished their activity, and HMS Royalist was redeployed to the  Mediterranean Sea. In September, 1944 Maclean took part in organization and realization of a commando-type reconnaissance operation which was planned to seize seacoast defenses on Greek islands occupied by the Germans. The operation became a plot basis for the second novel “The Guns of Navarone” 1957, but also for its sequel. In 1945 Royalist was redeployed to the Far East, where he took direct part in the liberation of Singapore, – he pursued the intelligence training of territorial planning, and military activities became the material for the plot of his third novel  “South by Java Head”, 1958 [4].

  1. Wheatley D. (Yeats) / The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. / D. Wheatley. – N.Y.: St. Martin’s Press, 1993. – 1319 р.
  2. Грин Г. Наш человек в Гаване / Г. Грин. – С-Пб.: Амфора, 1999. – 204 с.
  3. Кристи А. Избранные произведения в 3-х томах. / А. Кристи. – Р-на-Д.: Ростовское книжное издательство, 1991. – 1130 с.
  4. Маклин А.С. К югу от Явы / А.С. Маклин. – М.: Эксмо, 2008. – 246 с.
  5. Маклин А.С. Крейсер «Улисс» / А.С. Маклин. – М.: Эксмо, 2008. – 280 с.
  6. Маклин А.С. Пушки острова Наварон / А.С. Маклин. – М.: Эксмо, 2008. – 340 с.
  7. О’Кейси Ш. Пьесы / Ш. О’Кейси. – М.: Искусство, 1961. – 258 с.
  8. Олбери Т. Перебезчик / Т. Олбери. – М.: Центрполиграф, 1998. – 510 с.
  9. Олдридж Дж. Избранное / Дж. Олдридж. – К.: Вища школа, 1986. – 360 с.
  10. Сет Р. Тайные слуги / Р. Сет. – М.: Воениздат, 1962. – 412 с.
  11. Шоу Б. Пьесы: Профессия миссис Уоррен. Цезарь и Клеопатра. Пигмалион. Дом, где разбиваются сердца / Б. Шоу. – М.: Правда, 1981. – 340 с.

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