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Graham Greene

Graham Greene: Some Critical Considerations

EDITED BY Robert O. Evans
Copyright Date: 1963
Edition: 1
Pages: 306
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt130jp49
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    Graham Greene
    Book Description:

    This collection of fourteen essays by American and English scholars -- many of them hitherto unpublished and all of them selected with a view to avoiding the duplication of essays already familiar and available -- offers new testimony of the range and accomplishments of Graham Greene's talent. The essays vary from considerations of general topics to critical analyses of single novels, from a discussion of Greene as a writer of Christian tragedy to a witty, irreverent assessment ofThe Power and the Glory. The authors here are chiefly concerned with the novels, though frequent allusions reveal something of the nature and importance of the "entertainments" and the travel books.

    A number of the essayists focus upon Greene's commitment to the Roman Catholic faith and the definition it has given to his work. As a writer he is shown to be preoccupied with a duel vision of human frailty and of God's saving grace, a vision found by some to assert sin to the point of virtual heresy, though it never loses sight of that mercy which may catch up a soul "between the stirrup and the ground." As one essay points out, traces of this vision are to be found in Greene's earlier works as well as in his entertainments. Greene's own particular bent as a Catholic writer is brought out by a comparison with Fracois Maruiac; another essay is concerned with the tension that exists between the life of art and the life of sanctity.

    Round out this presentation of Greene's accomplishments are discussions of his work in the dram, the short story, and as a motion picture critic. Finally, this collection is notable for its inclusion of the most comprehensive bibliography of Greene's work and the criticism of them yet published.

    Graham Greene emerges from this composite judgment as a writer of consummate artistry who sees behind the façade the emptiness of a secular world.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5053-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. v-xvi)
    R. O. E.

    The book one sets out to make, even when one is collecting the writings of others, does not necessarily end as it began, and this collection of essays has certainly come to a conclusion far different from that I once expected. The original intention was to collect a series of essays that would cast light on an author in progress, an important one, perhaps even a great one, highly representative of his era–but still a collection that would attempt only a partial evaluation, for there was indication that Greene was approaching the apex of his importance but had not...

  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  4. THE WORLD OF GRAHAM GREENE
    (pp. 1-24)
    Harvey Curtis Webster

    In his perceptive essay about Dickens inThe Lost Childhood(1951), Graham Greene remarks that he is “in clined to believe” that “the creative writer perceives his world once and for all in childhood and adolescence, and his whole career is an effort to illustrate his private world in terms of the great public world we all share.” Whether this is generally true or not, Greene has made out a convincing case for its truth about himself. When, at the age of ten, he read H. Rider Haggard’sKing Solomorn’s Mines,he was most impressed by the figure of Gagool,...

  5. GRAHAM GREENE: CHRISTIAN TRAGEDIAN
    (pp. 25-48)
    Nathan A. Scott Jr.

    Graham Greene’s first novel—The Man Within—appeared in 1929, and, as we stand at a remove from it of more than twenty-five years, it begins now to seem that the stature which he has won requires that we judge him in the terms that we use for judging the major novelists of this century.¹ Yet Greene has not been often fortunate in the quality of the discriminations which his critics have brought to bear upon his work. He has been accused, and generally with irrelevance, of excessive morbidity and, on occasion, by reason of his preoccupation with evil, has...

  6. THE THEME OF SIN AND GRACE IN GRAHAM GREENE
    (pp. 49-60)
    Francis L. Kunkel

    In a short story about a Roman Catholic novelist, Graham Greene has one of the characters say that hue literary criticism leaves the author’s views out of account.¹ “ ‘A novel is made up of words and characters. Are the words well chosen and do the characters live? All the rest belongs to literary gossip.’ ”² But a critic cannot act on this advice; it leaves out of consideration the fact that the words an author chooses and the characters he creates depend upon his views. A critic must pay attention to problems of theme.

    Greene never states his themes....

  7. GRAHAM GREENE: STYLE AND STYLISTICS IN FIVE NOVELS
    (pp. 61-95)
    Dominick P. Consolo

    This essay is a study of Graham Greene’s technique in his five novels:Brighton Rock, The Power and the Glory, The Heart of the Matter, The End of the Affair,andThe Quiet American.¹ Technique, taken in its larger sense to mean “any selection, structure, or distortion, any form or rhythm imposed upon the world of action,”² will be used interchangeably with style: the result of “an individual way of feeling and seeing” which compels “an individual way of using language.”³ Specifically, however, the focus is on point of view, on character, on structure, and some aspects of language, insofar...

  8. THEOLOGICAL AMBIGUITY IN THE “CATHOLIC NOVELS”
    (pp. 96-111)
    David H. Hesla

    While it is not at all extraordinary for one of Graham Greene’s characters to be tempted to resolve the complexities of his existence by means of self-destruction, the incidence of suicidal tendencies is remarkably high in that group of his works which by now has come to be called the “Catholic novels.” InBrighton Rock(1938), Rose is prevented only at the last moment from fulfilling her part of the suicide pact with Pinkie. InThe Heart of the Matter(1948), Dickie Pemberton hangs himself in shame and despair over his debts; Helen Rolt, Scobie’s lover, ponders the possibilities of...

  9. THE CATHOLIC AS NOVELIST: GRAHAM GREENE AND FRANCOIS MAURIAC
    (pp. 112-126)
    A. A. DeVitis

    InThe Emperor’s Clothes,an attack on the dogmatic assertions of writers who make use of the stuff of religion as background and rationale for their works, Kathleen Knott says concerning the novelist who writes from a Roman Catholic point of view:

    It seems to be much easier for Catholic writers who are born Catholic, for instance Mauriac, to stick to psychological truth than it is for converts. This may be because it is much easier to ignore Catholic theory when it is acquired below the age of reason. Anglo-Saxon writers probably have a special disadvantage in this respect.

    Aiming...

  10. THE END OF THE CATHOLIC CYCLE: THE WRITER VERSUS THE SAINT
    (pp. 127-150)
    Herbert R. Haber

    At least since his essay on Henry James’s prefaces, it has become virtually an axiom for Graham Greene that a novelist’s poetic vision is inseparable from the craft he practices, from his discreet adherence to or responsible infringement of those “rules” which James almost single-handedly invented and Percy Lubbock later codified. James himself, Greene noted, “never hesitated to break his own rules, but he broke them with a full consciousness of his responsibility, shivering a little with the temerity of his ‘exquisite treacheries’; and it remains true today that no novelist can begin to write until he has taken those...

  11. THE SATANIST FALLACY OF BRIGHTON ROCK
    (pp. 151-168)
    Robert O. Evans

    Brighton Rock,THE sordid tale of an adolescent gangster, Greene’s first essay in the religious, as opposed to the secular, vein, presents many obstacles to understanding and appreciation, some mirrored by the critics. For example, H. R. Haber has written, “Given Macbeth’s conscience and social stature Pinkie might also be re-enacting that blood drenched drama in modem dress.”¹ Though Haber is quite aware that Pinkie Brown, aged seventeen, almost totally lacks those qualities requisite for a tragic hero, he nevertheless finds reasons to call the book “a kind of tragic drama,” and R. W. B. Lewis would seem to agree,...

  12. THE HEART OF THE NOVEL: THE TURNING POINT IN THE HEART OF THE MATTER
    (pp. 169-180)
    Kai Laitinen

    The Finnish critic and translator, J. A. Hollo, has written an essay entitled “The Turning Point in Great Novels.”¹ As in plays, he says, in great novels there is often a turning point, which sometimes may seem slight and hardly noticeable. “Nevertheless, it is important for fully understanding the work and its author. It constitutes an elevation from which the reader may view the total landscape, examining the series of events both forward and backward.” (See the volume of essays,Kohtaamiani—“Some of Those I Have Met.”)

    Even at my first reading of Graham Greene’s novel,The Heart of the...

  13. ALTOGETHER AMEN: A RECONSIDERATION OF THE POWER AND THE GLORY
    (pp. 181-187)
    John Atkins

    Death! Death! Death! What a way to start a novel! And what a way to continue it! But that’s what he wanted—it was certainly no accident, for Greene doesn’t make slips, except intentional ones—and death’s ubiquity is the slogan he drives home, like a particularly beastly nail. As literary drumming,The Power and the Gloryranks very high indeed.

    Just see what he accomplishes in the first fifty pages or so. He begins with an epigram from Dryden, describing death closing in hourly. The first paragraph firmly reminds us of the existence. of vultures, carrion, and sharks. If I...

  14. THE MORAL SITUATION IN THE QUIET AMERICAN
    (pp. 188-206)
    Miriam Allott

    WhenThe Quiet Americanappeared in 1955 it was described on the jacket as “a modern variant on a theme which in the last century attracted Mark Twain and other writers: a study of New World hope and innocence set in an old world of violence,” a statement which places it in a literary tradition with which it has some important elements in common. We are likely to do it more justice, I suggest, if we look at it in the context of sophisticated moral analysis of the kind associated with some later 19th century English and American fiction than...

  15. THE CURSE OF THE FILM
    (pp. 207-218)
    John Atkins

    The filmic quality of Greene’s fiction has frequently been pointed out and as often praised.¹ In fact, it is his worst work which invites the film comparison. Novels likeA Gun For Salecould easily be filmed (and were) and remain secondrate literature. Later Greene was to learn that excellence in one particular art depends on an adherence to the rules of that art. It cannot be approached through another.

    “Unlike the heroes of classical tragedy,” wrote Mlle. Marie-Beatrice Mesnet inGraham Greene and the Heart of the Matter,“or at least to a much greater extent than they, Greene’s...

  16. GRAHAM GREENE’S PLAYS: TECHNIQUE VERSUS VALUE
    (pp. 219-230)
    Jacob H. Adler

    Greene’s plays are usually examined in connection with his novels or his philosophy or both. I should like to approach them from the point of view of a playgoer who knows nothing of Greene the novelist or Greene the Catholic (or even Greene the movie scriptwriter) and who will evaluate the plays as plays. This playgoer may miss things that the complete Greene expert would see, and he may make mistakes; but he will, I think, also see important things that any other approach to Greene’s plays would miss. There is a sense in which an artist must be granted...

  17. THE WITCH AT THE CORNER: NOTES ON GRAHAM GREENE’S MYTHOLOGY
    (pp. 231-244)
    Carolyn D. Scott

    In the short story often lies the microcosm of an author’s total vision, and for Graham Greene that medium has provided the emblem for both “the power and the glory” of his longer works. Indeed, the volumeNineteen Stories(1949),¹ the best but by no means the only collection of Greene’s shorter fiction, contains more than a “hint of an explanation” toward a fuller realization of his world view. Few critics, however, have perceived the significance of the short stories to the whole of Greene’s work. Furthermore, those who discuss the short fiction often err in not recognizing the thick...

  18. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 245-276)
    Neil Brennan
  19. NOTES
    (pp. 277-286)