The Heart of the Matter (1948) is a novel by English author Graham Greene. The book details a life-changing moral crisis for Henry Scobie. Greene, a British intelligence officer in Freetown, Sierra Leone, drew on his experience there. Although Freetown is not mentioned in the novel, Greene confirms the location in his 1980 memoir, Ways of Escape.
The Heart of the Matter was enormously popular, selling more than 300,000 copies in the United Kingdom upon its release. It won the 1948 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction. In 1998, the Modern Library ranked The Heart of the Matter 40th on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. In 2005, the novel was chosen by TIME magazine as one of the one hundred best English-language novels from 1923 to the present. In 2012, it was shortlisted for the Best of the James Tait Black.
The book's title appears halfway through the novel:
- If one knew, he wondered, the facts, would one have to feel pity even for the planets? If one reached what they called the heart of the matter?