The Life of Graham Greene, 1904-1939 (Magill's Literary Annual 1990)
Norman Sherry is the first to attempt a full-scale biography of Graham Greene. Heretofore those seriously interested in locating information about Greene’s life have had to wade patiently through a host of fragmentary sources: Greene’s own essays (notably “The Lost Childhood,” “The Revolver in the Corner Cupboard,” and his introductions to the Collected Edition of his writings, gathered in 1980 as Ways of Escape); his travel books such as Journey Without Maps: A Travel Book (1936), The Lawless Roads: A Mexican Journal (1939), In Search of a Character: Two African Journals (1961), and Getting to Know the General (1984); and scattered chapters from the memoirs of his friends and fellow writers including Peter Quennell, Malcolm Muggeridge, and Evelyn Waugh. Even Greene’s autobiography, A Sort of Life (1971), covers only his first twenty- seven years. While it is a brilliantly evocative account, it tends to be impressionistic and elliptical, concealing nearly as much as it reveals about the formation of Greene’s character and genius. Indeed, it is in that volume that Greene concludes: “Perhaps a novelist has a greater ability to forget than other men—he has to forget or become sterile. What he forgets is the compost of the imagination.”
The biographer’s task is roughly to reverse this process of “forgetting,” unearthing the buried sources of the novelist’s imaginative...
(The entire section is 2280 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1990)
The Christian Century. CVI, October 18, 1989, p.934.
Commonweal. CXVI, October 6, 1989, p.531.
Los Angeles Times Book Review. June 18, 1989, p.3.
National Review. XLI, September 29, 1989, p.55.
The New York Times Book Review. XCI V, June 18, 1989, p.1.
Newsweek. CXIII, June 26, 1989, p.66.
Smithsonian. XX, October, 1989, p.225.
The Times Literary Supplement. May 26, 1989, p.575.
The Washington Post Book World. XIX, June 25, 1989, p.3.
(The entire section is 54 words.)