Graham Greene

Graham Greene

Graham Greene

Graham Greene

Excerpt

'WITH the death of James, the religious sense was lost to the English novel, and with the religious sense went the sense of the importance of the human act.' Graham Greene, an English novelist considered by many to be among the most gifted now writing, says this while speaking of François Mauriac; he goes on to add that Mauriac's 'first importance to an English reader, therefore, is that he belongs to the company of the great traditional novelists: he is a writer for whom the visible world has not ceased to exist, whose characters have the solidity and importance of men with souls to save or lose, and a writer who claims the traditional and essential right of a novelist, to comment, to express his views'. The words are significant: Greene's own development as a novelist has revealed above all an attempt to restore these two qualities--religious sense and the sense of the importance of the human act--to the English novel; to give back to it that extra dimension which places characters against the background of a world in which they are seen through the eyes of God. However unimportant they may seem in the world of the senses--for he often chooses to portray the weak, the failures--they have an overwhelming importance in another world. Indeed, perhaps through their very weakness and sense of failure they have an especial love for God which makes them the 'heroes' of Greene's books: 'it is the love for God that mainly survives because in his eyes they can imagine themselves always drab, seedy, unsuccessful, and therefore worthy of notice.' Greene's preoccupation with the seedy and the sordid--'seediness has a very deep appeal,' he writes in Journey Without Maps --springs from this: 'it seems to satisfy, temporarily, the sense of nostalgia for something lost; it seems to represent a stage further back'.

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