The Quiet American by Graham Greene (1955)

‘God save us always,’ I said, ‘from the innocent and the good.’ (p.20) Page for page I think this is the most effective of Greene’s books (up to this point in his career). The plot is taut and neat, the Catholic theologising which mars his other books is kept to a minimum – but it […]

The Life of Graham Greene volume II 1939-1955 by Norman Sherry (1994)

It’s lucky I have a masochistic trend and a feeling for squalor. (p.114) I do seem to muck up everyone I love. (p.406) The three volumes of Professor Norman Sherry’s epic life of Graham Greene were published in 1989, 1994, and 2004. This volume, number two, covers the period 1939 to 1955, which saw the […]

Twenty-One Stories by Graham Greene (1954)

As his biography makes clear, Greene was a prolific writer, partly from his own psychological compulsion to write, partly out of financial necessity. It was only in the later 1950s, after he’d been writing for thirty years, that he finally felt financially secure. Among the unstoppable flow of novels, travel books, articles and reviews, was […]

The End of The Affair by Graham Greene (1951)

What a dull lifeless quality this bitterness is. If I could I would write with love, but if I could write with love, I would be another man: I would never have lost love. (p.12) This is a short (190 pages), focused and – eventually – very powerful novel. It’s told in the first person […]

The Third Man by Graham Greene (1949)

Harry had always known the ropes… (p.103) Graham Greene collaborated with Carol Reed, the celebrated British film director, twice. Once on an adaptation of his 1935 story The Basement Room. The film version of this was released in 1948 as The Fallen Idol. Reed’s producer, Sir Alexander Korda, wanted the pair to follow up as […]

The Heart of The Matter by Graham Greene (1948)

Despair is the price one pays for setting oneself an impossible aim. It is, one is told, the unforgiveable sin, but it is a sin the corrupt or evil man never practises. He always has hope. He never reaches the freezing-point of knowing absolute failure. Only the man of goodwill carries always in his heart […]

Graham Greene, preacher man

The Greene sound Jazz musicians develop a personal ‘sound’, a unique way of getting music from their instrument which a fan can identify in seconds. Similarly, a writer’s way with the language can be instantly distinctive. To read any amount of Greene is to become aware of his message, and his preachiness about his message […]

The Ministry of Fear by Graham Greene (1943)

If you believed in God – and the Devil – the thing wasn’t quite so comic. Because the Devil – and God too – had always used comic people, futile people, little suburban natures and the maimed and warped to serve his purposes. When God used them you talked emptily of Nobility and when the […]

Elements of Graham Greene’s style

Greene’s strengths and weaknesses Greene’s strengths are: tell-tale description interior monologue dialogue, generally at cross-purposes His weaknesses are: weak plots psychology instead of plot melodramatically bleak worldview using Catholic symbolism to dress up banal situations 1. Description I enjoy Green’s descriptions. They are used: to describe (generally squalid) locations or sketch out the (generally seedy) […]

The Power and The Glory by Graham Greene (1940)

This place was very like the world: overcrowded with lust and crime and unhappy love, it stank to heaven. (p.125) In 1938 Greene was commissioned by the publisher Longman to go to Mexico to report on the revolutionary government’s repression of the Church and anti-clerical pogroms. The trip produced the factual travel book, The Lawless […]