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A Sort Of Life [Kindle Edition]

Graham Greene
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Graham Greene's 'long journey through time' began in 1904, when he was born into a tribe of Greenes based in Berkhamstead at the public school where his father was headmaster. In A Sort of Life Greene recalls schooldays and Oxford, adolescent encounters with psychoanalysis and Russian roulette, his marriage and conversion to Catholicism, and how he rashly resigned from The Times when his first novel, The Man Within was published in 1929. A Sort of Life reveals, brilliantly and compellingly, a life lived and an art obsessed by 'the dangerous edge of things'.

Product Description


"A great writer who spoke brilliantly to a whole generation" (Alec Guinness)

"The setting of his life is beautifully observed and conveyed. I have never admired his writing more - the masterly skill and economy; the excitement he manages to pump, not just into the narrative, but into the very sentences, which throb and glow themselves" (Observer)

"A subversive hero, self-consciously seeking out (in Browning's words) 'the dangerous edge of things,' who lived everywhere and nowhere, a man whom few people ever knew... Greene was a restless traveler, a committed writer, a terrible husband, an appalling father and an admitted manic-depressive" (New York Times)

"This is the work of a remarkable man determined to show he is not particularly remarkable...his fame is secure" (Daily Telegraph)

"Greene wrote some of the most commanding English novels of the twentieth century and some of the slickest commercial thrillers" (Newsday)

Book Description

The first volume of Graham Greene's notoriously misleading, mischievous , but nonetheless fascinating autobiography.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 270 KB
  • Print Length: 161 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0099282577
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital; New Ed edition (22 Mar. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099282577
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099282570
  • ASIN: B004SOYW44
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #94,297 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Graham Greene was born in 1904. He worked as a journalist and critic, and in 1940 became literary editor of the Spectator. He was later employed by the Foreign Office. As well as his many novels, Graham Greene wrote several collections of short stories, four travel books, six plays, three books of autobiography, two of biography and four books for children. He also wrote hundreds of essays, and film and book reviews. Graham Greene was a member of the Order of Merit and a Companion of Honour. He died in April 1991.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A 'life-long war against boredom' 27 Sept. 2012
By s k
Graham Greene's A Sort of Life is a short yet intense reflection on his formative years. It is dense with information, and reveals an unforeseen side to Greene's character, the pages gradually unpicking his persona to limn a melancholy and unsettled boy, a manic-depressive. The prose, as ever, is abrupt and spare, the deadpan delivery smothering some truly shocking moments. And, in the course of this book, there are shocks aplenty.

The book follows Greene's trajectory from being a bullied schoolboy to a semi-successful novelist. That, however, is only a chronological synopsis. The real enjoyment is in following Greene's 'life-long war against boredom'. And how did he pacify such an appetite? Well, he played truant, entered into futile loves, gambled with Russian roulette, had a perfectly healthy tooth extracted (the ether giving him 'a holiday from the world'), spent his Oxford years permanently blotto, smoked opium, sought work as a double agent, underwent psychoanalysis, and, finally, indulged his insatiable wanderlust. It is both unflagging and breathtakingly exciting, a huge contrast to the current trends of youthful lassitude.

Running parallel to all these shenanigans, however, is Greene's growth as a writer. He relates his childhood literary tastes and states the profound influence of children's literature on his imagination. His thoughts, meanwhile, on what and how to write are stimulating, his juvenilia openly ridiculed yet noted as an essential apprenticeship to serve. To convey his literary methodology, Greene marks a similarity between the novelist and the spy, its aptness echoing his life's amalgamation of art and espionage: 'he watches, he overhears, he seeks motives and analyses character, and in his attempt to serve literature he is unscrupulous'.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very nostalgic 12 Aug. 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Different writing style and evoked memories of days gone by. Some interesting insights into the author's early life - it is on my bedside table at the moment! Recommend this, although very different to his well known books, ie The Heart of the Matter, The Honorary Consul, Our Man in Havana etc.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A minor classic of the genre. 30 Mar. 2015
By mr blue
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
With his intelligence and his connections, Graham Greene could have succeeded at many things. He wanted to be a novelist and persevered at it. He wrote about people on the edge, morally torn.
This, the first of three volumes of autobiography, takes the reader from early childhood to marriage. His father was headmaster of Berkhamsted School, which GG attended and was for a time totally miserable. He could not tolerate boredom. His attempts to relieve it were hair-raising. He went to Oxford, which he tells too little of. He became a journalist, first in Nottingham (I didn't know that) and then on The Times. This he enjoyed but he declined to pursue a safe career here to take his chance as a novelist. The easy route did not appeal, then or later.
The writing here is superb, not a wasted word, moods are created and dispersed, characters appear briefly, entertain us, and go.
There is a theme. He believed that all that he later became could be traced to these years. He shows us convincingly how this happened. So besides being an autobiography it is also, loosely speaking, a psychological study of himself.
A short read and a good one.
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A Sort of Life is one of Greene’s several autobiographical works, and all of them can be enjoyed independently or all at once. It’s fascinating to read about the author’s early life, including his time in Berkhamstead where his father was the headmaster of the local public school.

Here, Green covers his schooldays and his time at Oxford with surprising candour, even covering the time when he played Russian Roulette against himself to try to inject some excitement in to a life that seems fascinating to us but which seemed humdrum and repetitive to the writer.

Graham Greene is one of my favourite writers ever, and this autobiography reminds me of why I love him – his writing is consistently gripping and the way he portrays himself is more fascinating than most of his fiction.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Sort of Autobiography 13 July 2013
A sort of life is a kind of Autobiography. It follows his life from a schoolmaster's son in town of Berkhamsted to Oxford and beyond. It shows him living in the moment, playing Russian roulette and generally being critical of everything in life including himself. The book is intriguing and well written; indeed at times I think it contains some of Greene's best writing. The book leaves you hungry for more but is somehow not fulfilling as a story in the way that his earlier works like The Power and the Glory and Brighton Rock are.
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