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Grandiose Moments

Frank Kermode, 6 February 1997

Ford Madox Ford: A Dual Life, Vol. II 
by Max Saunders.
Oxford, 696 pp., £35, September 1996, 0 19 212608 3
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... Pound, who admired his combination of old-world Tory manners and avant-garde sympathies, and from Graham Greene, who imitated his techniques, notably in The End of the Affair. These writers and many others of many stripes – Herbert Read, D.H. Lawrence, Hugh Walpole, for instance – admired him because he was shrewd and helpful about the business of ...

On board the ‘Fiona’

Edward Said, 19 December 1991

In Search of Conrad 
by Gavin Young.
Hutchinson, 304 pp., £17.99, October 1991, 0 09 173524 6
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... There is a great deal of Conrad in Beckett’s fiction, but also in Malraux and of course Naipaul, Graham Greene, and the remarkable Sudanese novelist el-Tayib Salih. You cannot read Conrad simply or securely. He exists, it seems, to prod and bother the reader from one uncertainty to another. The great thing, though, is that despite the withering anxiety ...


Rosemary Hill: The Writers’ Blitz, 21 February 2013

The Love-Charm of Bombs: Restless Lives in the Second World War 
by Lara Feigel.
Bloomsbury, 519 pp., £25, January 2013, 978 1 4088 3044 4
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... Lara Feigel unravels the tangled web, concentrating on the experiences of six novelists: Bowen, Graham Greene, Henry Yorke (who wrote as Henry Green), Rose Macaulay, Rosamond Lehmann and the Austrian émigrée Hilde Spiel. The combination of danger and novelty made the times ‘an absolute gift to the writer’, as Yorke put it to ...

Outfits to die for

Gabriele Annan, 10 February 1994

A Woman’s View: How Hollywood Spoke to Women 1930-60 
by Jeanine Basinger.
Chatto, 528 pp., £14.99, January 1994, 0 7011 6093 4
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... made over her sexy little body, her pouty mouth, her flirtatious ways. No less an authority than Graham Greene pointed out, after seeing Captain January, that she had an appeal ‘interestingly decadent’. All of this infuriates the grown-up Temple, and who can blame her? All she really did was tap her guts out in a series of well-made, unpretentious ...

A Turn of Events

Frank Kermode, 14 November 1996

Reality and Dreams 
by Muriel Spark.
Constable, 160 pp., £14.95, September 1996, 0 09 469670 5
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... and wishes some of his old friends were alive to visit him: Wystan Auden and Chester Kallman, Graham Greene, Allen Tate, Louis MacNeiec, Tennessee Williams, Noel Coward, John Braine, Mary McCarthy ... (a shade slyly, Mrs Spark, after all a director in her own way, may here be self-indulgently thinking of some of her own old pals). He meditates the ...

Looking back

John Sutherland, 22 May 1980

by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 176 pp., £4.95, March 1980, 0 224 01762 4
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The Bleeding Heart 
by Marilyn French.
Deutsch, 412 pp., £6.50, May 1980, 9780233972343
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by Jeremy Leven.
Hutchinson, 544 pp., £6.95, April 1980, 0 09 141250 1
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... a quality. For all Dolores’s humane sexual superiority, The Bleeding Heart offers much of what Graham Greene once called the tough talking of the netball team. And it adopts the familiarly angry anti-patriarchal posture of enlightened, emancipated womanhood. Her son Tony ‘learned early to obey Father, and Father stands behind him now, Father ...

Belfryful of Bells

Theo Tait: John Banville, 19 November 2015

The Blue Guitar 
by John Banville.
Viking, 250 pp., £14.99, September 2015, 978 0 241 00432 6
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... is yielding diminishing returns. In The Untouchable, he has Victor Maskell say of the Graham Greene character, Querell: ‘He was genuinely curious about people – the sure mark of the second-rate novelist.’ It’s a good line, but a difficult motto for a writer to live by; it’s usually better to be a second-rate novelist who’s ...
... ties rather than national ones (which are implied by both authors to be something of a fake). In Greene’s novel especially, the pains of being a spy, and above all the wretchedness of the separation from home and love which follows exposure, are memorably evoked. These books have been read by many people, and they are additionally famous in televised and ...

Semi-colons are for the weak

Colin Burrow: Bond Redux, 19 December 2013

Solo: A James Bond Novel 
by William Boyd.
Cape, 322 pp., £18.99, September 2013, 978 0 224 09747 5
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... or better still ‘perfectly round, like coins’. Mission? Off to Africa this time. But reading Graham Greene on the flight? What kind of pansy does this Boyd fellow think I am? Nasty civil war to sort out. Oil money at stake. That’s more like it. Juicy little coffee-coloured girl who turns out to be the local section head, too. Or does she? There ...
London Reviews 
edited by Nicholas Spice.
Chatto, 222 pp., £5.95, October 1985, 0 7011 2988 3
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The New Review Anthology 
edited by Ian Hamilton.
Heinemann, 320 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 434 31330 0
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Night and Day 
edited by Christopher Hawtree, by Graham Greene.
Chatto, 277 pp., £12.95, November 1985, 0 07 011296 7
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Lilliput goes to war 
edited by Kaye Webb.
Hutchinson, 288 pp., £10.95, September 1985, 9780091617608
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Penguin New Writing: 1940-1950 
edited by John Lehmann and Roy Fuller.
Penguin, 496 pp., September 1985, 0 14 007484 8
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... the magazine’s early demise was due solely to the libel suit brought by Shirley Temple after Graham Greene, the magazine’s cinema reviewer, suggested that she knowingly flaunted her precocious sexuality. It would be nice to think that the asinine law put the magazine out of business. But it put itself out of business. Under-capitalised from the ...

Infante’s Inferno

G. Cabrera Infante, 18 November 1982

Legacies: Selected Poems 
by Heberto Padilla, translated by Alastair Reid and Andrew Hurley.
Faber, 179 pp., £8.75, September 1982, 0 374 18472 0
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... as Dr Goebbels. The other English writer of note to visit Cuba and to write about it is Graham Greene, the man who calls Philby his friend. He was in Havana before but not after Edna O’Brien – I believe. He used to see Castro on his way to visit General Torrijos, the late Panamanian strongman. At all events, he has been in Cuba several ...


Ian Hamilton: Francis Hope, and Tom and Vic, 15 March 1984

... again and again, offering few new surprises. I notice that, since Burgess’s list appeared, Graham Greene has offered his round-up of the post-war greats – ten favourites not included in the BMC pantheon nor (apart from one – Under the Volcano) in Burgess’s. Where will this end? And when, oh when will somebody pick Earthly Powers! ...

No False Modesty

Rosemary Hill: Edith Sitwell, 20 October 2011

Edith Sitwell: Avant-Garde Poet, English Genius 
by Richard Greene.
Virago, 532 pp., £25, March 2011, 978 1 86049 967 8
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... her local department store in Bayswater) – is one of several interesting points on which Richard Greene has nothing to say in this disappointingly flat biography. Why she did it she explained herself. It was, like so much in her life and work, the result of a famously (if productively) unhappy childhood. The Sitwells, Edith and her two younger ...

Beau Beverley

George Melly, 27 June 1991

Beverley Nichols 
by Bryan Connon.
Constable, 320 pp., £20, March 1991, 0 09 470570 4
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... hostesses, and later as the hero of those middle-aged ladies who subscribed to lending-libraries (Graham Greene, in a review of one of Nichols’s travel books, pretended that its author, an adventurous spinster, was hiding behind a nom de plume). By the end of the Fifties that middle-class, middlebrow world which had sustained his reputation was ...

Dangerous Liaisons

Frank Kermode, 28 June 1990

Ford Madox Ford 
by Alan Judd.
Collins, 471 pp., £16.95, June 1990, 0 00 215242 8
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... but Pound gave reasons for admiring it. In this country Ford has enjoyed the advocacy of Graham Greene and V.S. Pritchett, but the busiest and also the most effective of Ford’s admirers have been American. Though Carcanet have done well over here, and items like the latest issue of Agenda testify to continuing English interest,* the ...

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