Graham Greene (1904-1991)

After the unsuccessful attempts as a novelist, Greene was about to abandon writing. His first popular success was STAMBOUL TRAIN (1932), a thriller with a topical and political flavour. Greene wrote it deliberately to please his readers and to attract filmmakers. One of its characters, Quin Savory, was said to be a parody of J.B. Priestley - Greene depicted nastily the writer as a sex offender. Priestley had just published a novel, which led some reviewers to compare him with Dickens. In Greene's story Savory was a popular novelist in the manner of Dickens. Next year he attacked another well-loved writer, Beatric Potter, in an article called 'Beatrix Potter: A Critical Estimate'. Also the American actress, Shirley Temple, aged nine, got her share when Greene wrote in the magazine Night and Day that "her admirers - middle-aged men and clergymen - respond to her dubious coquetry, to the sight of her well-shaped and desirable little body, packed with enormous vitality..." This time Greene had to pay for his remark.

THE CONFIDENTIAL AGENT (1939) is a problematic work. In it the mysterious Forbes/Furstein, a rich Jew, plans to destroy traditional English culture from within. However, in 1981 the author was invited to Israel and awarded the Jerusalem Prize. He had visited Israel in 1967 for the first time, and spent some of the time lying against a sand dune under Egyptian fire, and thinking that the Six Day War "was a bit of misnomer. The war was too evidently still in progress." Greene's religious convictions did not become overtly apparent in his fiction until THE BRIGHTON ROCK (1938), which depicted a teenage gangster Pinkie with a kind of demonic spirituality. Religious themes were explicit in the novels THE POWER AND THE GLORY (1940), THE HEART OF THE MATTER (1948), which Greene characterized as "a success in the great vulgar sense of that term," and THE END OF THE AFFAIR (1951), which established Greene's international reputation. The story, partly based on Greene's own experiences, was about a lover, who is afraid of loving and being loved. These novels were compared with the works of such French Catholic writers as Georges Bernanos and François Mauriac. "At a stroke I found myself regarded as a Catholic author in England, Europe and America - the last title to which I had ever aspired," Greene later complained.

Greene returned constantly to the problem of grace. In his review of The Heart of the Matter George Orwell attacked Greene's concept of 'the sanctified sinner': "He appears to share the idea, which has been floating around ever since Baudelaire, that there is something rather distingué in being damned; Hell is a sort of high-class nightclub, entry to which is reserved for Catholics only." The novel was set in Sierra Leone where the author had spent a miserable period during the war. Major Scobie, the hero of the story, dies saying: 'Dear God, I love...' The rest is silence.

The End of the Affair was drew partly on Greene's affair with Catherine Walston, whom he had met in 1946. She was married to one of the richest men in England, Henry Walston, a prominent supporter of the Labour Party. Catherine was the mother of five children. Greene's relationship with her continued over ten years and produced another book, AFTER TWO YEARS (1949), which was printed 25 copies. Most of them were later destroyed. In The End of the Affair Catherine was 'Sarah Miles' and the writer himself the popular novelist 'Maurice Bendix', who narrates the story and tries to understand why Sarah left him. Maurice discovers that when he was injured in a bomb blast during the war, Sarah promised God that she would end the affair if Maurice is saved. Sarah dies of a pneumonia. Maurice's response to his divine rival is: "I hate you as though You existed.'

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