In A Sort of Life Greene suggests that an appropriate epigraph for all of his novels would be some lines from Robert Browning’s “Bishop Blougram’s Apology”:
Our interest’s on the dangerous edge of things.The honest thief, the tender murderer,The superstitious atheist, demi-repThat loves and saves her soul in new French books—We watch while these in equilibrium keepThe giddy line midway.
The quotation underscores Greene’s love of paradox, his rebellious sympathy for the nonconformist, his persistent disbelief in the capacity of words to capture in some final form the truth of existence, and his implicit belief that any honest search for meaning is a dangerous balancing act. Yet Greene is neither an absurdist who celebrates chaos nor a relativist who rejects the significance of moral meaning. Although recognizing that any search for meaning is unfinished, Greene sees such quests as essential to full human existence. Because the central concern of his writing is salvation, theological, societal, and personal, the question of truth is dangerous—a matter of life or death.
Just as Greene compares his writing to a high-wire act in which he carefully balances between moral opposites, he emphasizes...
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