Graham Greene: A Literary Life (Literary Lives) by Neil Sinyard

By Neil Sinyard

This quantity explores Graham Greene's literary profession. between different issues, it explores his causes for writing; the literary and cinematic impacts that formed his paintings; his writing regimen and the significance of his formative years event. Greene used to be elusive, enigmatic and this booklet teases out the fiction from his autobiographies, the autobiography from his fictions, sharing Paul Theroux's view that you could be now not recognize Greene from his face or speech "but from his writing, you recognize everything".

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Sample text

In Greene’s view, he only partially succeeded but he learnt from it enough to make his later deployment of the technique in The Quiet American much more successful. S. Eliot: indeed, Greene’s friend, Michael Meyer defined the feeling as amounting to a sense of awe. Eliot is the source of the epigraph for one of Greene’s suppressed novels, The Name of Action – the same quotation from The Hollow Men that he also cites in his introduction to Tom Laughton’s Pavilions by the Sea – and for no other reason than to suggest a significance and importance that the novel does not manage to deliver: between the aspiration and the achievement has fallen the shadow of failure.

Just as a young Samuel Johnson was so frightened after reading the ghost-scene in Hamlet that he had to leave his room to reassure himself that he was back in the real world, Greene was so gripped by his childhood reading of Bram Stoker’s Dracula that he picked his lip to the point where he drew blood. In this essay, and later in A Sort of Life, he recalls some of the childhood reading which might have had some bearing on his future. For example, he cites Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines, which gave him a fascination with Africa that was to be developed in his later travels – in Liberia in 1935, for example, or in Sierra Leone in 1942.

In her reminiscence, Greene on Capri: A Memoir (London: Virago Press, 2000), Shirley Hazzard noted that they first became acquainted through her overhearing a conversation between Greene and his companion at a table in Capri and her being able to complete a quotation from Browning that Greene had started, which, in Greene’s terms, was clearly a good augury for friendship. 4 As well as being full of literary references, his novels have their literariness built sometimes into their narrative structure, as can be seen with the hero of The Confidential Agent (1939), who is a literary scholar, and the Secret Service codebook used by Wormold in Our Man in Havana, which is Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare.

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