The context in which Greene develops his autobiography involves his creative interaction with orthodox Catholicism and with political and military events in England, Mexico, Africa, Vietnam, Cuba, and South America. Although his writing reveals an intensely personal vision of a frightening, suspenseful, and dark world— a human place peopled with sad and suffering men and women who profoundly long for peace—his vision draws upon the public world of the journalist who seeks out social injustice and oppression around the globe.
Coming toward the end of his career, Ways of Escape is Greene’s attempt to put his literary career into perspective. His reflections on the specific circumstances and people upon which he based his novels and stories not only provide insights into the creative process but also unfold the growth of a writer’s mind and career. Combining a fast-paced narrative with dialogue, the book has some of the qualities of Greene’s novels; here, however, he is the unmistakable hero of his adventure. The other characters of this book are not only the actual people who moved in and out of Greene’s life, but, more important, the characters he created in his novels, short stories, and plays during a period of more than forty years. It is in these fictional people that one discovers the artistic soul of Graham Greene.