Cryptic Trollope

With thanks to Paul Niemeyer for spotting this interesting Trollope sighting. . .

I’ve been re-reading Graham Greene’s The Human Factor (1978), which I’m teaching as the last novel in my Spy Lit course. In Part III, chapter 2, the secret agent Maurice Castle is visiting his bookseller, looking for a sufficiently long novel that (we later find out) he can use to send codes.

“‘There’s always Trollope,’ Mr. Halliday [the bookseller] said. ‘My son’s very fond of Trollope. Though it doesn’t really go with the kind of things he sells [porn], does it?’

“‘I’ve never read Trollope. Isn’t he a bit ecclesiastical?’ . . .

“‘I could easily slip across the road and have a word with my son. I know he prefers the political novels–or what he calls the sociological. I’ve heard him speak well of The Way We Live Now. A good title, sir. Always contemporary. Do you want to take it home today?’

“‘No, not today.'”

For the record, they eventually use Tolstoy’s War and Peace for the encryption.

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