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Graham Greene: A Life In Letters Paperback – 2 Oct 2008

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus (2 Oct. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349119147
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349119144
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 2.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 498,829 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

** 'Graham Greene: A Life in Letters will offer the most important contribution to studies of the writer since the completion of Norman Sherry's epic, three-volume biography (BOOKSELLER)

** 'A triumph of judgment and judicious selection that offers a vivid new picture of Greene the man: his pleasures, foibles and, above all, his generosity... Now, perhaps for the first time, he emerges whole from the shadow of his biographers, as distinctiv (Ian Thomson, SUNDAY TIMES)

** 'Impeccably edited by Richard Greene, it succeeds admirably in it's declared purpose: to bring together for the first time in one volume letters "that are engaging to read and that reveal Greene's personal, literary, religious and political concerns over a period of 70 years." (Nicholas Shakespeare, DAILY TELEGRAPH)

** 'A condensed portrait of the successful literary life in the 20th century. (Craig Brown, MAIL ON SUNDAY)

Book Description

* The first book of Graham Greene's letters - the most intimate record we have of a life lived at the heart of modern history

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Graham Greene was born with a silver spoon in his mouth yet managed to portray himself as a bit of a rebel with a soft spot for the less fortunate. He sided with Kim Philby ("a good and loyal friend"), a spy who passed on information to the Soviet Union which led to the deaths of a number of agents. His naivety over leftist dictators like Fidel Castro and the Panamanian general, Omar Torrijos, is typical of a certain kind of anti-American intellectual snob. In one letter, he writes: "I had am amusing meeting with Fidel in my 24 hours in Cuba. He looked to me much younger than he had done in 1966.."

Despite his friendship with Russian spies and Latin American revolutionaries, Greene's idea of direct action was not to man the barricades but to write a letter to The Times.

He was also one of those tiresome Anglo-Catholics, like his friend Evelyn Waugh, who have nothing in common with real Catholics who are at ease with their faith and don't take it that seriously.

Much as I like some of his books - Travels with My Aunt, Our Man in Havana, Dr Fischer of Geneva, The Comedians and (bits of) The Honorary Consul - I find the soul-searching in other works like The Power and the Glory and The Human Factor off-putting and dull.

Although this collection of letters has its fair share of "dark night of the soul" material, it also has a lot more interesting and enjoyable information about Greene's confused professional and personal life. He was both a writer and a publisher, talking as a businessman one minute and as an author the next.

He was also quite selfish and determined when it suited him as seen in the letter about his attempts to win support among the members of the Nobel Prize for Literature committee.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x947c4ee8) out of 5 stars 3 reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
By Christian Schlect - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A nicely edited selection of the letters of the English novelist and public figure.

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."
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b7e5318) out of 5 stars Well-chosen windows into a life and mind 14 May 2013
By Sean Johnson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'll tell anyone who asks that a vital part of being a well-rounded reader is reading biographies, and in some cases a well-edited collection of personal correspondence can be just as insightful and informative as a traditional biography. That is very much the case with this book. Richard Greene (no relation) has very effectively selected and arranged the letters most representative of Greene's relationships, character, and personal shifts.

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
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b7e521c) out of 5 stars Deft editing 20 Nov. 2013
By John H. Wilson - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Immensely interesting, deftly edited. Richard Greene provides just enough information to explain the context of Graham Greene's letters without overwhelming the reader. Graham Greene's quirky, evasive, humorous personality comes through in his letters.
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