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Graham Greene: A Life in Letters Hardcover – Bargain Price, December 17, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Richard Greene (an associate professor at the University of Toronto and no relation of the novelist's) provides an incisive introduction, narrative and annotations to his selection of Graham Greene's letters from 1921 to 1991, which appear together for the first time. Perennially shortlisted for the Nobel Prize in Literature but never a recipient, Greene is presented in these letters through the five main preoccupations of his life: Roman Catholicism, politics, love, travel and, certainly not least, the processes of writing and publishing. As a publisher at Eyre & Spottiswoode, and as an author in disputes with Heinemann's and Viking ("Would rather change publisher than title"), Greene gained an unusually rounded view of the business side of his profession. In love and through several intense and long-lasting affairs, Greene remains something of a tortured exhibitionist. His writing career led to correspondence with a range of authors and personalities, including Evelyn Waugh, Muriel Spark, Kurt Vonnegut, Ralph Richardson, Michael Korda, Anthony Burgess, the future Pope Paul VI and radical Swiss theologian Hans Küng. Points of travel famously include such hot spots as Vietnam, Sierra Leone, Haiti, Cuba and Israel. In all, this well-thought-out collection newly reveals a remarkable activist-writer. 8 pages of illus. (Dec.)
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English fiction writer Greene is solidly established in the English-language canon. A prolific and candid letter writer, Greene had a wide circle of friends and extensive family connections. To these people he confided, in written form, his activities and opinions, beginning at age 16 and continuing up to within a few days of his death at age 86, in 1991. The chief audience for all compilations of correspondence is the cognoscenti of the field in which the letter writer existed, in this case, of course, the literary scene. Because of his stature, and his wide range of interests and experiences, to say nothing of his pure writing style, Greene’s epistles are an excellent way for the appreciators of his fiction and travel writing to gain additional familiarity with his life, talents, and ways of thinking. --Brad Hooper
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Greene's letters are a thoroughgoing testament to his literary brilliance, and a wrenching diary of his struggle to love and trust the Lord more than himself-a battle he was not always winning. Greene quoted Charles Peguy in the epigraph to The Heart of the Matter: "The sinner is at the very heart of Christianity. . . . No one is as competent as the sinner in Christian affairs. No one, except the saint." But it may have been Peguy's next line that best explained Greene: "And in principle they are the same man."
cross-posted at visionsetrevisions.wordpress.com
Those with a special interest in Graham Greene and his career will enjoy these often-short letters written to a multitude of friends, lovers, and fellow artists, such as the Waughs (Evelyn and Auberon), Catherine Walston and Michael Korda.
The letters themselves are well written but are often more straightforward communications than pieces of polished literary prose. Fans and students of Mr. Greene's work will benefit from the scattered background material and insights to his many published efforts, such as "The Comedians" and "The Power and the Glory."
Graham Greene, while a solid believer in free speech, was certainly on the left fringe of Cold War politics and an anti-American having expressed, as an example, support for Manuel Noriega of Panama with such a thought as "...if I have to choose between a drug dealer and American imperialism I prefer the drug dealer."