Featured Author: Graham Greene
With News and Reviews From the Archives of The New York Times
In This Feature Reviews of Graham Greene's Books Articles About and by Graham Greene
Related Links Richard Eder Reviews Shirley Hazzard's 'Greene on Capri' (Feb. 20, 2000) First Chapter: 'Greene on Capri'
The New York Times
Graham Greene in Antibes, France, June 1971.
REVIEWS OF GRAHAM GREENE'S BOOKS:
'Orient Express' (1933)
"The tale of the varying experiences which end with the prospering of the worst and the destruction of the best, is sharply, often incisively etched. Something of motion picture technique is used . . . The novel has movement, variety, interest . . ."
'It's a Battle' (1934)
"[Greene] writes in a cinematographic style that shoots a keen, swift-moving camera eye from one point to another round the circle of his drama. . . . This is a distinctive story, engrossing, alive and decidedly well worth reading."
'England Made Me' (1935)
"[Greene] might have contented himself with writing only a melodrama. Had he done so the story would have been less good than it is. . . . Had he been able to carry his psychology deeper and further the book would be more impressive."
'Brighton Rock' (1938)
". . . a brilliant and uncompromising indictment of some of the worst aspects of modern civilization . . . There is not an entirely admirable character in it; but there is not one that can, by any chance, be forgotten nor one that could be set aside as untrue to life."
'Another Mexico' (1939)
"Whatever Mr. Greene thought he would find bad in Mexico he found awful. . . . Yet, out of all this ugliness Mr. Greene causes to emerge a picture of Mexico that is alike vivid in detail and absolutely convincing as a whole."
'The Confidential Agent' (1939)
"With Graham Greene's sure skill, his brilliance and ingenuity, his original and powerful creation of character, event and scene, his story unfolds in breathless excitement . . . a novel of thrilling adventure, a magnificent tour-de-force among tales of international intrigue . . ."
'The Ministry of Fear' (1943)
"Few writers can distill drama from a twisted soul with more skill than Mr. Greene . . . top-hole entertainment and then some -- a guaranteed chiller to beat the first summer heat-wave."
'The Heart of the Matter' (1948)
"Mr. Greene (as a well-earned public knows) is a profound moralist with a technique to match his purpose. From first page to last, this record of one man's breakdown on a heat-drugged fever-coast makes its point as a crystal-clear allegory -- and as an engrossing novel."
'The End of the Affair' (1951)
"It is savage and sad, vulgar and ideal, coarse and refined, and a rather accurate image of an era of cunning and glory, of cowardice and heroism, of belief and unbelief."
'The Lost Childhood: And Other Essays' (1952)
"Greene reveals himself to be a penetrating critic. . . . He is unmatched today among novelists in his extraordinary skill for analysis, in his uncanny psychological insights, in his ability to take apart the mechanism of man's inner life."
'The Quiet American' (1956)
"Easily, with long-practiced and even astonishing skill, speaking with the voice of a British reporter who is forced, despite himself, toward political action and commitment, Greene tells a complex but compelling story of intrigue and counter-intrigue, bombing and murder."
'Our Man in Havana: An Entertainment,' reviewed by James M. Cain (1958)
"Had he taken a walk around the block, decided to believe his own tale, and told it with simple conviction, it might have been hair-raising . . . Instead, he has used tricks and achieved mostly unreality."
'A Burn-Out Case' (1961)
"[T]hough Greene does not seem to be trying very hard so far as the story-telling is concerned, though he is not practicing to the full the arts of the novelist, he does nevertheless out of his own humanity make this a very appealing novel, wise, gentle and sympathetic."
'In Search of a Character: Two African Journals' (1962)
". . . a short, searching and revealing book . . . Mr. Greene is a good craftsman no matter what he is haring and hounding [and] he does not let us down."
'A Sense of Reality' (1963)
"So facile and naturally talented a writer as Graham Greene has no difficulty, of course, in holding our attention, despite the absence of some familiar realistic props. But this attention, I am afraid, is not rewarded."
'The Comedians' (1966)
"[In Greene's work] God is a failure. God is like the British army: He loses almost every battle, and only at the end, if repentance comes in time, may He win the war."
'May We Borrow Your Husband? And Other Comedies of the Sexual Life' (1967)
"The sense of the author at play dominates his new collection of stories . . . For Greene, the short story has always been an occasional form, and the stories in his new volume vary greatly in merit."
'Collected Essays' (1969)
"Mr. Greene practices criticism from inside the conventions of fiction. He brings into play not an analytic intellect but . . . a working intelligence."
'Travels With My Aunt' (1970)
". . . extremely entertaining and often very funny. . . . The book unmistakably turns its back on the Orphic preoccupations with the hereafter that characterized Greene's Catholic novels, and wholeheartedly embraces a Bacchic emphasis on the here and now . . ."
'A Sort of Life' (1971)
"Greene is writing better than he has in years. His 'sort of' autobiography -- odd, calm, saturnine and unexpectedly moving -- is one of his best books."
'Lord Rochester's Monkey' (1974)
". . . a biography of Rochester [written by Greene] 40 years ago. . . . Greene's best early work -- a writer's book about a writer, with the vibrations of affinity we feel in Henry James's 'Hawthorne' or John Berryman's 'Stephen Crane.'"
'The Human Factor' (1978)
". . . has an interesting plot and a number of promising ideas for characters. It is occasionally puckish. It talks about politics and pity. It traffics in ideology and, of course, religion. It thinks about love. It doesn't work. Mr. Greene, I am sorry to say, has done a lazy job."
'Ways of Escape' (1981)
". . . [a] sequel to the autobiography he published 10 years ago . . . There are enduringly penetrating analyses of politcal crises that occurred where he was escaping. . . . if Mr. Greene is reticent about betraying the privacy of others, he is almost swaggeringly willing to inform on himself . . ."
'Monsignor Quixote' (1982)
". . . the gentlest and most amiable of his books since 'Travels with My Aunt' . . . what was once corrosive has become mellow . . . charming, bemusing rather than provocative, leisurely rather than energetic, at times even a bit slack."
'The Story of an Involvement' (1984)
". . . reassures us that the writer's dreams and hopes have not died. From a literary point of view, this book is perhaps not among his most memorable . . . But from a human point of view, it is compellingly compassionate."
'The Tenth Man,' reviewed by William F. Buckley Jr. (1985)
"'The Tenth Man' is melodrama, which is O.K. But Greene attempts to invest it with philosophical meaning, and, really, it does not work."
'The Captain and the Enemy,' reviewed by Brian Moore (1988)
"This willingness to take the greatest fictional risks, this dissatisfaction with all that he has done before . . . are virtues which remind us that, at the age of 84, Graham Greene remains, as V. S. Pritchett said, 'one of the two or three living novelists who really count.'"
'Yours Etc.: Letters to the Press' (1990)
"Mr. Greene writes a splendid prose, and his ideas are often persuasive and always thought-provoking, even on the rare occasion when he was wrong."
'The Last Word: And Other Stories' (1991)
"This is a collection of stories that, for one reason or another, the author did not wish to include in previous collections. . . . Only one of these additions . . . reads like vintage Greene."
"[I]t is difficult to make any generalizations about a collection as diverse and uneven as this one . . . The better pieces are sharp and amusing. . . . basically humdrum collection."
'A World of My Own: A Dream Diary' (1995)
"[F]rom 1965 on [Greene] began to set down his dreams in detail in notebooks. . . . It's not surprising that the strange tales told here -- and they do emerge as tales, not as random notes on disconnected, chaotic events -- are as powerful as his fiction, and interweave with it."
ARTICLES ABOUT AND BY GRAHAM GREENE: From Graham Greene's Preface to 'The Third Man' (1950)
"'The Third Man' was never written to be read but only to be seen. . . . To me it is almost impossible to write a film play without first writing a story."
Stage: 'The Complaisant Lover' (November 2, 1961)
". . . one of the versatile author's [Greene's] 'entertainments.' It is shocking without raising its voice. It is witty without being overwhelming . . . And in the end, it is thoroughly thin stuff."
Graham Greene, in Haiti, Talks of Double Trouble (August 18, 1963)
In an interview with Greene in Haiti, where he was seeking material for a book, Greene talked about some of his previous adventures.
Beatles and Two M.P.'s Favor Legal Marijuana (July 25, 1967)
Greene was among among the 65 leading Britons who petitioned the Government to make marijuana legal.
Screen: 'The Comedians' Arrives With Burtons (November 1, 1967)
"By far the most agitating aspect of the film Peter Glenville has made from Graham Greene's novel, 'The Comedians,' is the sinister image it presents of a rigid reign of terror in a Caribbean country. . . . only a moderately interesting account of apathy and personal self-indulgence in the midst of a nation undergoing terrible trial."
Stage: 'Carving a Statue' (May 1, 1968)
"The disturbing thing about the production of Graham Greene's 'Carving a Statue' . . . was its lack of disturbing things. . . . a heavy-hearted shaggy dog story . . . [The play has] too much unmotivated theological conversation and, above all, too much explication."
Graham Greene at 66 (September 12, 1971)
In an interview from the Riviera coast, Greene said "In the days of 'A Quiet American' I was accused of being very anti-American, but now one finds one is on the side of so many Americans."
Shame of the Catholics, Shame of the English, by Graham Greene (December 12, 1971)
In an open letter about religious tension in the U.K. , Greene wrote: "To be at the same time a Catholic and an Englishman is today to be ashamed on both counts."
Stage: 'The Return of A. J. Raffles' (December 21, 1975)
"Mr. Greene has not provided much stylish dialogue, nor was the Royal Shakespeare Company performing with its usual sharpness and wit."
Israeli Book Fair Honors Greene, Amid Protests (April 7, 1981)
The Jerusalem International Book Fair presented its literature prize to Graham Greene, causing a minor controversy when a few objections were raised that some of the author's early work contained strains of anti-Semitism.
On the Riviera, A Morality Tale by Graham Greene (February 5, 1982)
In a Cote d'Azur port, Greene courted controversy by leading a public campaign against organized crime and police corruption.
Author Fined for Defamation (March 24, 1983)
A French civil court convicted Greene and three French publications of defamation in a case involving statements Greene made about a man who had married the daughter of one of Greene's friends.
Greene Novel, Written in 40's, To Be Published (April 3, 1984)
"The Tenth Man," Greene's novel about the French Resistance, was published almost 40 years after it was written for Metro Goldwyn Mayer, after being discovered in the studio's archives.
The Soul-Searching Continues for Graham Greene (March 3, 1985)
In a profile for The New York Times Magazine, the 80-year-old Greene, referring to his grandfather, who survived a fall from a tree at the age of 91, told a reporter, "I don't want to live to be that old."
Graham Greene, How Do You Do It? (October 9, 1985)
In a rare public appearence at a private session at Georgetown University, Greene dispensed wisdom -- such as "The moment comes when a character does or says something you hadn't thought about" -- to a rapt audience.
A Review of Norman Sherry's 'The Life of Graham Greene: Volume One: 1904-1939' (June 18, 1989)
"Greene's years have been full of high adventure, great achievement, much drama, no small amount of romance; and he has been continually available to his chosen biographer."
A Review of Norman Sherry's 'The Life of Graham Greene: Volume Two: 1939-1955' (February 26, 1995)
"[W]hat Mr. Sherry gives us in this second volume of his massive study of a grotesquely complicated life is a compulsively readable, astutely humane account that, in less responsible hands, could have been presented in sensationalist, even salacious terms."
Travels in Search of Graham Greene (September 9, 1989)
Herbert Mitgang explains how Norman Sherry won the trust of Greene, who agreed to help Sherry write his biography.
Graham Greene, 86, Dies; Novelist of the Soul (April 4, 1991)
Greene's obituary says that his "novels of suspense and moral ambiguity plumbed the sordid politics of the modern world and the inner torments of mankind."
Graham Greene as I Knew Him, by Paul Theroux (April 21, 1991)
In a remembrance of Greene, Paul Theroux writes, "Meeting him, you had the idea that Greene was someone who had had everything he had ever desired, and that it was perhaps this abundance that made him romanticize loss and failure."
Haiti Recalls Greene With Gratitude (April 27, 1991)
"Graham Greene placed the word Tonton Macoute in the world's vocabulary," said the Haitian journalist Aubelin Jolicoeur, in appreciation of Greene's 1966 novel "The Comedians."
Word for Word (October 16, 1994)
A series of excerpts from "The Comedians," "Another Mexico" and "Ways of Escape" are selected to show the relevance of Greene's work to current events in Haiti, Cuba and Mexico.
A Review of Michael Shelden's 'Graham Greene: The Enemy Within' (July 2, 1995)
". . . a calculated act of malice. It is difficult to murder a corpse but Michael Shelden does his best. . . . [Shelden] pleads honest outrage at his subject's moral failings. Yet permeating the whole thing is the whine of the spoiled child denied free run of the playroom."
Filming the Drama Between the Novelist's Lines (June 6, 1999)
Neil Jordan, who adapted "The End of the Affair" for the screen, said in an interview that while Greene's novels seem patently cinematic, they depend so heavily on internalized drama that it's necessary to take liberties.
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The Graham Greene Birthplace Trust www.grahamgreenebt.org