GREENE by Graham Greene


Collected Essays
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Half of the essays here, including his more important sequence on Henry James, have been reprinted from Mr. Greene's 1952 collection The Lost Childhood which established in Greene's case that the creative writer could also be a critic of some distinction. Not always a corollary. The Jamesian universe of "black and merciless things," with a "sense of evil religious in its intensity" and concomitant betrayals obviously would attract Mr. Greene and he makes many subsequent referrals to it -- even in the work of Beatrix Potter and de la Mare (perhaps over-estimated here). Of the almost 80 pieces, one can comment only eclectically on a few: while interest in Sterne and Fielding, Dickens, Maugham, etc. endures (and with Hadrian VII the three pieces on Rolfe will catch many eyes) there are still a great many forgotten figures (poets George Granville or George Darley for example) appearing in what were originally book reviews, the venue of a majority of the essays. Catholic writers receive a proportionate and expectable predominance; among the "Characters" -- the second half of the collection -- only a few are not literary (Castro, Kim Philby, Louis B. Mayer of MGM, or Schweitzer, the "victim of his own legend"). The opening piece on how, as a child, he was stimulated to write and thereby "live and enjoy" leads to the other, personal piece at the end of the volume and a return to the "Soupsweet Land" (Freetown) where he wrote The Heart of the Matter. It concludes with the sad apostrophe, "How could they tell that for a writer as much as for a priest there is no such thing as success?
Pub Date: May 19th, 1969
ISBN: 0140185763
Page count: 344pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1969


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