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It was not so much the theft of the Eiffel Tower which caused me difficulty; it was putting it back before anyone noticed.
Hyper-real or surreal? That is the question.
I had to think about which one of these would best describe Graham Greene’s intriguing little story “The Man Who Stole The Eiffel Tower”. If I understand hyper-real correctly, it means a situation that is highly exaggerated and highly unlikely but technically still possible. A few years ago I heard author John Green speak and he suggested that his novel An Abundance of Katherines was hyper-real because it was very implausible that one high-school boy could date 19 girls in a row named Katherine but technically, it’s not impossible.
I looked up a definition of surreal and it said simply “weird, bizarre, unreal”. I think this one fits Greene’s story.
As the title states, the narrator of this four page story steals the Eiffel Tower. His “fleet of outsize lorries” goes unnoticed as he moves the landmark out to the country where he can polish it up a little. He also dismisses questions from tourists by indicating that they just took a wrong turn, they need to go down the street a little ways to get to the tower.
Yeah, kind of weird. Is there a purpose to this? Is Greene making some kind of political statement? Does he like France? Does he not like France? I’ll be honest in saying I don’t know. In the past, I’ve had a few visitors to this blog give some explanations of Greene’s work. So if you’re out there and understand any deeper meanings to this story, feel free to let me know. I’d love to hear more analysis. Otherwise, I find the story kind of cute.
And I don’t think I’m giving anything away by saying the narrator eventually returns the tower.
“The Man Who Stole the Eiffel Tower” is included in Graham Greene’s Complete Short Stories. I read it when I selected the Ten of Hearts for Week 39 of my Deal Me In short story project. My Deal Me In list can be found here. Deal Me In is hosted by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.