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Graham Greene Possessed

Brigid Brophy, 1 May 1980

Doctor Fischer of Geneva. Or The Bomb Party 
by Graham Greene.
Bodley Head, 140 pp., £4.50, March 1980, 0 370 30316 4
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... What can have possessed Graham Greene? The answer, I suspect, is the ghost of Thomas Mann. The Swiss setting of Doctor Fischer of Geneva might be determined by some generic effluvium of Mann, a compound of his Magic (Swiss) Mountain, his post-war return to Switzerland and, perhaps, his rather landlocked position at the centre of European letters ...
... to die ‘when cruel old campaigners win safe through’. Epitaphs apart, what will survive of Graham Greene? Not love, certainly; nor the famously tortured guerrilla of Roman Catholicism, fighting and writing for and against the Church from inside and outside it, and all the more effective a partisan and publicist on its behalf when he seemed most ...

Full of Teeth

Patricia Beer, 20 July 1995

The Life of Graham Greene. Vol. II: 1939-55 
by Norman Sherry.
Cape, 562 pp., £20, September 1994, 0 224 02772 7
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Graham GreeneThree Lives 
by Anthony Mockler.
Hunter Mackay, 256 pp., £14.95, July 1994, 0 947907 01 7
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Graham GreeneFriend and Brother 
by Leopoldo Duran.
HarperCollins, 352 pp., £20, September 1994, 0 00 627660 1
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Graham GreeneThe Man Within 
by Michael Shelden.
Minerva, 567 pp., £5.99, June 1995, 0 7493 1997 6
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... when and if they have worked their way through the four, totally diverse, biographies of Graham Greene which originally appeared in the summer and autumn of last year. The biographers are Norman Sherry, Anthony Mockler, Leopoldo Duran and Michael Shelden. The actual information they provide must by now be common knowledge among those ...

How many nipples had Graham Greene?

Colm Tóibín, 9 June 1994

... publishers wrote looking for quotes for books they were about to publish. Authors wrote. In 1973 Greene wrote to Josef Skvorecky: ‘Your letters reach the length of a book by this time ... I feel sad that you are wasting such good material on me, but if you ever come to write about these events I can always send you the letters back.’ He did not, in ...

A Spot of Blackmail

Douglas Johnson, 1 July 1982

J’Accuse 
by Graham Greene.
Bodley Head, 69 pp., £1.95, May 1982, 0 370 30930 8
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... he had been in Brighton for three hours, that they meant to murder him.’ The opening sentence of Graham Greene’s most famous novel runs, in menacing innuendo, through his pamphlet J’Accuse. He denounces the world of crime, injustice and corruption which constitutes ‘the dark side of Nice’, and he has let us know that, as he lives in the ...

What there is to tell

David Lodge, 6 November 1980

Ways of Escape 
by Graham Greene.
Bodley Head, 309 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 0 370 30356 3
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... For most of his professional life, Graham Greene might have been described as the Greta Garbo of modern English letters. He preferred to be alone. A wartime Penguin edition of England made me in my possession records on the back cover that ‘he … has always lived a quiet life and shunned literary circles.’ Widely regarded as, in Hugh Walpole’s words (quoted on the same cover), ‘the finest English novelist of his generation’, he avoided the public exposure that usually accompanies such exalted cultural status ...

Cervantics

Robert Taubman, 7 October 1982

Monsignor Quixote 
by Graham Greene.
Bodley Head, 221 pp., £5.95, September 1982, 0 370 30923 5
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... good or bad, but thinking makes it so.’ Perhaps rather carefully, the words at the head of Graham Greene’s new novel are ascribed to William Shakespeare rather than to Hamlet, but inevitably it’s Hamlet they bring to mind. Very Hamlet, this complete scepticism – but not, surely, very ...

Travelling in circles

Robert Taubman, 3 December 1981

The Mosquito Coast 
by Paul Theroux.
Hamish Hamilton, 392 pp., £7.95, October 1981, 0 241 10688 5
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... London, Dorset, Cape Cod, and now in Honduras; and produced as many different kinds of novel. Graham Greene ranges as widely, but the Greene themes and style impose them selves; and Theroux has written on V.S. Naipaul’s themes. Apparently his own work doesn’t have the same sort of continuities. But we can ...

Diary

Michel Lechat: Graham Greene at the Leproserie, 2 August 2007

... It would be nice to say that Graham Greene just appeared one day in Yonda, the leprosy settlement in the Equateur Province of the then Belgian Congo where I was the doctor, stepping off the gangway of the bishop’s riverboat as Querry does in A Burnt-Out Case. But Greene did not come unannounced ...

Dream on

C.K. Stead, 3 December 1992

A World of My Own: A Dream Diary 
by Graham Greene.
Reinhardt, 116 pp., £12.99, October 1992, 1 871061 36 9
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... they often seem worth recording. There is for me, in other words, a poetry and a prose of dreams. Graham Greene once wrote that for the novelist identification with a character sometimes ‘goes so far that one may dream his dream and not ones’s own’. In my most recently published novel I decided one or other of the central characters should ...

On the Lower Slopes

Stefan Collini: Greene’s Luck, 5 August 2010

Shades of GreeneOne Generation of an English Family 
by Jeremy Lewis.
Cape, 580 pp., £25, August 2010, 978 0 224 07921 1
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... Graham Greene was more than half in love with easeful failure. He chose to end A Sort of Life, the sly memoir of his early years that stood in for an autobiography, with ‘the years of failure which followed the acceptance of my first novel’, adding the characteristic gloss that ‘failure too is a kind of death’ and so may conclude the story of a life as appropriately as one’s last breath ...

Taking what you get

Walter Kendrick, 6 December 1984

Getting to know the General: The Story of an Involvement 
by Graham Greene.
Bodley Head, 224 pp., £8.95, September 1984, 0 370 30808 5
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Saints, Sinners and Comedians: The Novels of Graham Greene 
by Roger Sharrock.
Burns and Oates, 298 pp., £15, September 1984, 0 86012 134 8
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Travels in Greeneland: The Cinema of Graham Greene 
by Quentin Falk.
Quartet, 229 pp., £14.95, September 1984, 0 7043 2425 3
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The Other Man: Conversations with Graham Greene 
by Marie-Françoise Allain.
Bodley Head, 187 pp., £7.50, April 1983, 0 370 30468 3
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... who would like to understand them. Thomas Hardy was England’s worst offender in this regard: but Graham Greene, now 80, bids fair to give Hardy a run for his money. Not in quality, of course. Even Greene’s most enthusiastic advocates wouldn’t attempt to place him in the top rank of English novelists; there’s ...

Madly Excited

John Bayley, 1 June 1989

The Life of Graham Greene. Vol. I: 1904-1939 
by Norman Sherry.
Cape, 783 pp., £16.95, April 1989, 0 224 02654 2
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... Me. There is, nonetheless, a remarkable similarity in technique between, say, Margaret Drabble and Graham Greene. Both create an entirely coherent romance world, powered by variations on self-satisfaction, in Greene’s case masquerading as self-disgust. In both cases this is highly transmissible to the reader. Every ...

Holy Padlock

Pat Rogers, 6 October 1983

The Religious Life of Samuel Johnson 
by Charles Pierce.
Athlone, 184 pp., £12.50, March 1983, 0 485 30010 9
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... Entering Mexico at the start of The Lawless Roads, Graham Greene saw among the peasant women of Monterrey the signs of a real religious life about him – ‘the continuous traffic of piety’. One of the most striking things about Samuel Johnson is the depth of his urge towards piety: not spirituality at every moment, but what we might today call ‘mere’ piety ...

Short Cuts

Christopher Tayler: Costume Drama, 11 October 2012

... or was it a slightly botched afterthought? Ford sometimes took the second view, which prompted Graham Greene to exclude the novel from his edition of the sequence in 1963. Then there was the question of where Parade’s End should be shelved: along with Ulysses and Mrs Dalloway? With Goodbye to All That and All Quiet on the Western Front? Or in the ...

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