Doctor Fischer of Geneva or The Bomb Party By Graham Greene

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Doctor Fischer of Geneva or The Bomb Party By Graham Greene

Message par Admin le Lun 18 Jan 2010 - 10:13

Alfred Jones, a translator and letter-writer in a chocolate factory of glass in Vevey, was married to Anna-Luise, daughter of the millionaire Doctor Fischer, the man who invented Dentophil Bouquet. His salary of 3'000 Francs represented only half an hour’s income of his father-in-law.

Jones’ father had been a minor diplomat, and at the end of his career was promoted = (promu) as a knight – Sir Frederick Jones. As a child Jones had lived in France, Turkey and Paraguay, therefore his ability to speak several languages. During the blitz in December 1940, when London was set ablaze, Alfred lost his left hand working as a fireman = (pompier). His parents also died that night, buried under their house in West Kensington.

His father-in-law inspired only hatred for Jones. He detested him for his pride, his contempt of everybody, and his cruelty, as much as he loved his lovely young wife. Anna-Luise was in her early twenties, 30 years younger than Jones. She was warm-hearted and intelligent. Why she loved Jones was always a mystery for him. The Fischer lived in a white mansion by lakeside at Versoix outside Geneva. Doctor Fischer never called Alfred anything but Jones, even after the marriage. Jones had a first wife, who died in childbirth 20 years before.

Fischer was always surrounded by his so-called friends, all living around Geneva. Anna-Luise called them ‘Toads’. They were Richard Deane - a film actor, Krueger – a Divisionnaire, Kips – a lawyer, Belmont – a tax adviser, and Ms Montgomery, a widow with blue hair. He ruled them all with a whip in one hand, and a carrot in the other. He was reputed to give abominable parties, but his friends all put up with him for his wealth.

Anna-Luise and Jones met over a couple of sandwiches during lunch. They shared the same table and talked about the blitz. The sandwich lunch and the blitz were the clearest memory Jones had of their first encounter. A month later they thought of marriage. Anna-Luise left her house with a suitcase, without a word to anybody. Jones decided to see his future father-in-law. Anna-Luise was not keen = (enthousiaste) on Jones meeting her father, she kept warning him to be careful, and not to mention any subject concerning Dentophil or teeth = (dents). She told him that Fischer mocked others, but no one mocked him. He kept a monopoly in mockery.

In the house, Jones met Mrs Montgomery, who was left waiting, and Mr Kips, who was shown immediately to Doctor Fischer’s study. Alfred was given an appointment = (rendez-vous) for another day.

He saw Doctor Fischer in his second visit. Doctor Fischer was around his age, with red moustache and less fiery hair. He had pouches under his eyes and very heavy lids. He seemed totally disinterested in the marriage of his daughter at all and dismissed Jones quickly.

A week or two later they got married at the Mairie, with only Mr Excoffier as witness = (témoin). During the ceremony Anna-Luise noticed Mr Belmont at the back of the room, watching them. After the ceremony, he gave them an envelope containing an invitation for dinner from Fischer. Only Alfred was invited. It caused the first quarrel between the newly couple. Finally Anna-Luise agreed that Jones could go to the party.

One afternoon, after a lunch meal with a customer, Jones met Mrs Montgomery. She took him in a shop and asked him to choose 4 objects, he suggested her to give cheques and a pigskin photograph frame. She was not happy with his unhelpfulness and later repeated all his mocking suggestions to Fischer.

Anna-Luise told Jones how she hated her father because he made her mother miserable, due to his pride = (fiérté). Her mother loved music, but Fischer hated it, as he could not understand it. Later Ms Fischer met another man who shared her love of music. When he found out, she told him everything. He said he forgave her, but it only increased her sense of guilt. He found out the name of the man. It was a humiliation for Fischer as the man was only a clerk, he would have preferred being betrayed = (trahit) by another millionaire. He went to see Mr Kips, the man’s employer. The man was sacked for 50'000 Francs and he simply disappeared. Her mother died after a few years. It was then that he learnt to hate and to despise people. After her death, he began to give parties. Mr Kips was the first to be invited. Fischer humiliated him as he did to his wife, because Mr Kips knew. He also made him his lawyer, to keep his mouth shut = (tenir sa langue).

To humiliate Mr Kips, Fischer hired a well-known writer and a good cartoonist to produce ‘The Adventures of Mr Kips in Search of a Dollar’. Mr Kips in the book was always bent double and always seeing coins people had dropped on the pavement. The book was a success. Then Fischer gave this book as a present to Mr Kip during one of his dinners. When Anna-Luise told him that by humiliating his friends he would lose all of them, he just replied “All my friends are rich and the rich are the greediest = (les plus avides). The rich have no pride except in their possessions. You only have to be careful with the poor.”

The dinner approached and Jones began to doubt if he should go or not. That day unpleasant things happened, and Alfred felt it was like omens = (présage) to an unpleasant evening.

Fischer welcomed Alfred by introducing him as Jones and called his disagreeable manservant = (domestique) Albert. Jones could feel the hostility of the other guests.

The rule of the party was that if everybody put up with the whims = (caprices) of Fischer, they would receive very expensive gifts. During the evening, everybody was continuously humiliated in turn. Jones felt hatred between the host and his guests, and the humorous exchanges were pure hypocrisy and hollow. They made a toast to the memory of Mrs Favejon, the richest and the greediest of them, died by her own hand 2 years ago. And to Mr Groseli, died of cancer, after attending only 2 parties.

The dinner consisted of cold porridge and bibs = (bavettes) for the guests, to humiliate Jones. But he would not flinch = (sans broncher) before all the insults. Jones did not eat the porridge. Only Fisher had caviar. All the guests were angry with Jones because he was only an observer and he did not play their game. He held up the mirror up to them and they saw the humiliations they were being inflicted = (infliger).

Fischer told Jones he wanted to find out if the greed of his rich friends exceeded their pride. He thought himself as God, and thought that God was greedy for humiliations of men. It was a bottomless = (basse) greed.

Finally Mrs Montgomery received a fine emerald set in platinum with a diamond crown above it, all the men received gold watches except Richard Deane, who got a photograph of himself in a pigskin frame. Jones promised to Anna-Luise not to go to the party anymore.

One night Jones dreamed of Fischer standing beside an open grave = (tombe), weeping = (en pleurant). He was very affected with him dream the next day and felt sorry for him.

The couple met Mr Steiner in a shop in Vevey when Anna-Luise wanted to buy some cassette. Steiner recognized Anna-Luise instantly and broke down. He called her by her mother’s name, Anna. When Jones visited Steiner in hospital, he talked about his story. He loved Anna, though she did not love him. They had an affair once, because of her loneliness, and stopped after that. After her death, he went to the cemetery, and saw Fischer cried.

One day Mr Kips came to Jones’ office to ask him to translate a letter in Turkish. It was a confidential letter concerning armaments. Mr Kips asked Jones not to mention it in front of Fischer in his next party, and Jones assured him that he would not attend.

When attending midnight mass at the abbey of Saint Maurice on Christmas Eve, Anna-Luise and Jones met all the toads, and Montgomery gave Jones another invitation. At night the couple talked about the toads and their souls. Jones said Fischer might have a soul = (âme), a damned one.

Anna-Luise died of a ski accident in les Paccots, and was buried in Saint Martin’s cemetery in Gibraltan ground, according to English rites. Fischer did not attend the burial ceremony though Jones wrote a letter informing of her death.

After the funeral, Jones thought of suicide. He made himself a glass of whisky mixed with 20 aspirins. He got a call from Mrs Montgomery, telling him that Fischer wanted to see him the next day about Anna-Luise’s trust. After the call, as he had no intention to go, Jones drank the whisky, but he did not die. He started thinking about the trust and hated Fisher for already mentioning about the trust just after the funeral. Then he was struck by the reaction of the draught = (potion pour se suicider (aspirines + alcool)) and felt deeply asleep, for 18 hours.

He wakes up with the thought of finding another way to die. With his hatred for Fisher, he thought of humiliating and making Fisher suffer, for what he had done to Anna-Luise’s mother and Steiner. He decided to meet Fischer.

Fischer told Jones he did not attend the funeral because Anna-Luise resembled too much to her mother. He told Jones he felt he owed him something because he behaved = (se comporter) better than the others in the last party. He admitted that he despised them, and that they’re only acquaintances = (connaissances) for him, not friends. He also knew very well that Jones hated him. Fischer talked about the trust, the capital would go to him now as Anna-Luise died childless. He did not want to accept the money because he felt as if he accepted the forgiveness of a woman who betrayed him with a clerk of Kips (Steiner). He wanted Jones to have the money, Jones refused.

Fischer wanted to throw a last party, the extreme test of the greed to all. He wanted Jones to attend, as he knew that Jones humiliated the others more than Fischer ever did in last party, by not eating and surrendering his present. Fischer wanted to humiliate the toads further by giving them cheques, watched by Jones. When he received Fischer’s invitation to the Final Party, he accepted. It would take place in 1 week’s time. He went on with his life normally, but still thinking ways to finish his life.

The party was held on the lawn. When Jones arrived, Fischer had just finished hiding crackers in a bran tub. The game of the party was that everybody had to draw crackers, which contained the presents, out at random from bran tub with their eyes shut. The menu of the dinner was refined, with caviar and excellent bottles. Jones did not feel hungry, so he just drank a lot.

After dinner, Mrs Montgomery was impatient to get the present. Fischer told them there were crackers, each containing a cheque of 2 millions francs. At first, Belmont & Deane were offended by receiving cheques, but they changed their mind when they learnt about the amount.

Before going to the bran tub to draw the crackers, Fischer asked them to finish their port. Everybody did, except Jones. It was only then that Fischer disclosed the real game – the party was called a Bomb Party. 5 crackers contained cheques, and the 6th contained a small bomb. It was a form of Russian roulette. They could choose to play the game or to leave. Only Kips left.

Deane was the first to get up, but Mrs Montgomery was there before him. She pulled out a cracker and won the cheque. Deane was the second winner. When asked by Fischer, Jones said he would also participate in the game, to give the Divisionnaire better odds = (chances). As the Divisionnaire hesitated, Jones went to the bran tub and took a cracker. The Divisionnaire was soon at his side. Mrs Montgomery wanted to leave, and the Divisionnaire also asked Jones to leave with him, but Fischer refused to let him abandon the game. So the Divisionnaire also picked up 1 cracker.

Jones asked the Divisionnaire to go back to the table and opened his cracker. He felt closer to Anna-Luise. He was disappointed when it did not blow up. Fischer taunted = (sens: pousser) the Divisionnaire to show more courage to face death. The old man was near to tears = (larmes). When Jones saw this, he took the last cracker and opened it, but no explosion either.

He went back to the table with his 2 cheques and tossed = (jeter) 1 to Fischer, as Mr Kip’s share, to be divided among the others. Fischer was urging the Divisionnaire to open his cracker. Alfred proposed to exchange his cheque with the last cracker. He took the cracker and walked away towards the lake, with Fischer calling after him. He opened the last cracker, but still no explosion. He realized that they were all fooled. Fischer had proved his point about the greed of his rich friends and won.

Steiner was also by the lake, wanting to meet Fischer. Soon they both saw Fischer coming towards them. The Divisionnaire left with the cheque. Fischer was confused to see Steiner there, he did not expect it at all. Finally he admitted that he despised himself the day he learnt about Steiner, and then he walked away along the lawn by the lakeside. Steiner remarked that hatred = (haine) was not contagious, but when a man despised another, he ended by despising the whole world. Steiner only pitied Fischer now.

Suddenly they heard a sharp sound. They found Fischer on the lawn (pelouse), his revolver beside his head. Jones wanted to take the revolver, but Steiner stopped him.

Jones did not try to end his life anymore. He lived in the memory of Anna-Luise, as Steiner lived in the memory of her mother. Their hatred = (haine) had gone with Fischer’s death.

_________________
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