The Life of Graham Greene: Volume III: 1955-1991

Overview

Twenty-seven years in the making, Norman Sherry's magisterial biography of Graham Greene captures the life and character of one of the twentieth century's most important literary figures. The final, eagerly anticipated volume follows Greene, still an agent for the British government, from pre-Revolutionary Cuba and the Belgian Congo to adulterous interludes in Capri and Antibes. Based on unparalleled access to letters, diaries, and Greene himself, this book gives us the writer at the height of his fame, in the ...

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Overview

Twenty-seven years in the making, Norman Sherry's magisterial biography of Graham Greene captures the life and character of one of the twentieth century's most important literary figures. The final, eagerly anticipated volume follows Greene, still an agent for the British government, from pre-Revolutionary Cuba and the Belgian Congo to adulterous interludes in Capri and Antibes. Based on unparalleled access to letters, diaries, and Greene himself, this book gives us the writer at the height of his fame, in the company of such literary luminaries as T. S. Eliot, Evelyn Waugh, Ian Fleming, and Ernest Hemingway. With insight and eloquence, Sherry reveals Greene's obsessions, feelings, and craft, bringing to a close what Margaret Atwood has called “the definitive biography.”

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In time for the centenary of Greene's birth comes Sherry's magnificent, much anticipated final installment of his biographic trilogy. At this stage in Greene's life, his literary career was soaring, his celebrity international and his personal life profoundly unhappy. Unable to come to any permanent arrangement with his married mistress, Catherine Walston, and continually struggling with depression and suicide, he sought means of escape in his books and his travels. Sherry's promise to follow literally in his subject's footsteps yields especially vivid portrayals of Castro's Cuba, the last colonial days of the Belgian Congo and Papa "Doc" Duvalier's nightmarish Haiti. Once again, Sherry diligently tracks down the actual inspirations for fictional characters and situations (as well as possible work by Greene for the British secret service) and judiciously discusses Greene's idiosyncratic Catholicism. His more questionable activities, however, such as aiding the causes of Panamanian dictator Torrijos and the Sandinista regime, do not escape Sherry's scrutiny. Sherry himself enters the story in 1974, eventually becoming Greene's sanctioned biographer, and he comments throughout about his experience finishing this monumental work, such as his arguments with competing biographer Michael Sheldon. With Sherry's access to all Greene's papers, his personal bond with his subject and his keen understanding of the enigmatic author, Sherry has no biographic rival; this work is authoritative. Photos not seen by PW. (On sale Sept. 27) FYI: Penguin is simultaneously publishing commemorative editions of Greene's most popular works and reissuing in paperback the first two volumes of Sherry's biography. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Just in time for Greene's centenary, Sherry wraps up a biography that has been 27 years in the making. With a three-city author tour. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The third and final volume of Sherry's superb life of the English novelist and man of letters, a monumental work published over the last 15 years. The first moments of Sherry's (Literature/Trinity Univ.) last installment find Graham Greene in middle age, and none too happy about it. His energies seem boundless: he is being published regularly, earning a fine income, smoking opium, being sought out for opinion and commentary. But the world is wearying Greene: here, ten years after the end of WWII and his work in the shadow world of military intelligence, he seems depressed at the apparent lack of adventure that has come with his success. Writes Sherry: "Journeys were Greene's means of controlling depression. He often came out of melancholy with a sudden eagerness for new ventures." The new ventures Sherry describes are many, worthy of volumes of their own (some of which Greene got around to writing): he travels to Vietnam, finding the material for The Quiet American, and to Cuba, capturing the Fidelista revolution in Our Man in Havana and, incidentally, smuggling socks and sweaters for the mountain-bound revolutionaries; he finds new love outside the house; he takes a place on the board of one of England's best publishing houses and becomes a vigorous editor, acquiring Charlie Chaplin's memoirs for publication. Chalk all this up to the legendary, emulation-worthy Greene. Sherry gives us another Greene, though, who is rather more disagreeable, beset, as a Catholic, by doubts over the existence of God, given to quarreling with proteges and admirers over trivial matters, so convinced of his greatness that he thinks nothing of overriding his fellow judges in a literary prize competition tochampion a second-tier writer whose work just happens to resemble early Graham Greene. Not all shared Greene's self-assessment, least of all the members of the Swedish Academy, who denied Greene the one thing he seemingly craved more than anything else: the Nobel Prize in literature. Marked by sorrow and disappointment, but plenty of fascinating adventures. An exemplary biography, of profound interest to admirers of Greene's work and to students of contemporary letters.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143036135
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 11/29/2005
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 944
  • Product dimensions: 6.22 (w) x 9.36 (h) x 2.04 (d)

Meet the Author

Norman Sherry is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and Mitchell Distinguished Professor of Literature at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. He is the author of Conrad's Eastern World, Conrad's Western World, Charlotte and Emily Brontë, and Jane Austen.

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