Graham Greene's Catholic Imagination

Graham Greene's Catholic Imagination

Graham Greene's Catholic Imagination

Graham Greene's Catholic Imagination

Synopsis

Much has been written about Graham Greene's relationship to his Catholic faith and its privileged place within his texts. His early books are usually described as "Catholic Novels" - understood as a genre that not only uses Catholic belief to frame the issues of modernity, but also offersCatholicism's vision and doctrine as a remedy to the present crisis in Western civilization. Greene's later work, by contrast, is generally regarded as falling into political and detective genres. In this book, Mark Bosco argues that this is a false dichotomy created by a narrowly prescriptiveunderstanding of the Catholic genre and obscures the impact of Greene's developing religious imagination on his literary art.

Excerpt

There does exist a pattern in my carpet constituted by Catholicism, but one has to stand back in order to make it out.

—Graham Greene

In a book-length interview with Marie-Françoise Allain published late in Graham Greene's life, Greene described the imaginative role that Catholicism played in his long writing career by making the allusion cited above to his literary hero, Henry James. It is a fitting metaphor for the manner in which Catholicism's difference is often inscribed in many of Greene's characters, plots, and themes. From his publication of poems in 1925 to his posthumously published dream diary in 1992, Greene's 67 years of writing included over 25 novels, 2 collections of short stories, 2 travel books, 7 plays, 2 biographies, 2 autobiographies, film scripts and film criticism, and countless literary and journalistic essays. If Catholicism is not the very fabric of many of these texts, it is always a thread that helps to bind his literary preoccupations into a recognizable pattern.

Much has been written about Greene's relationship to his Catholic faith and its privileged place within his texts, especially in the criticism prevalent during the heyday of the Catholic literary revival of the first half of the twentieth century. Greene's cycle of novels, beginning with Brighton Rock in 1938 and concluding with The End of the Affair in 1951, stands as the gold standard of what is often referred to as the “Catholic novel” in English literature. The commen-

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