Graham Greene

Graham Greene (Henry Graham Greene), 1904–91, English novelist and playwright. Although most of his works combine elements of the detective story, the spy thriller, and the psychological drama, his novels are essentially parables of the damned. Greene's heroes realize their sins and achieve salvation only through great pain and soul-searching agony. A Roman Catholic convert (1926), he was intensely concerned with the moral problems of humans in relation to God. Some of his 26 novels have been ranked as thrillers, and Greene himself called such works as Stamboul Train (1932; U.S. title, Orient Express) and The Ministry of Fear (1943) "entertainments" to distinguish them from his more serious efforts. His major works, which include Brighton Rock (1938), The Power and the Glory (1940), The Heart of the Matter (1948), and The End of the Affair (1951), mark him as a novelist of high distinction.

Greene was a superb journalist, a sometime British spy, and a world traveler, often courting danger in various international wars and revolutions and participating in local high and low life in dozens of famous and obscure corners of Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Many of his novels are set in locations with which he had personal experience, sites often of topical journalistic interest: The Quiet American (1955) a prescient account of early American involvement in Vietnam; Our Man in Havana (1958), set in Cuba; A Burnt-Out Case (1961), in the Belgian Congo just before its independence; The Comedians (1966), in François Duvalier's Haiti; and The Captain and the Enemy (1980), in Panama. His fine sense of comedy is displayed in the short-story collection May We Borrow Your Husband? (1967) and the novel Travels with My Aunt (1969). Greene also wrote several plays, including The Living Room (1953) and The Potting Shed (1957), both thinly disguised religious dramas, and The Complaisant Lover (1959), a witty and intelligent play about marriage and infidelity. He also is noted for his essays, travel books, film criticism, and film scripts, including the mystery melodrama The Third Man (1950).

See his autobiographies (1971, 1980) and his posthumously published A World of My Own: A Dream Diary (1995); S. Hazzard, Greene on Capri: A Memoir (2000); R. Greene, ed., Graham Greene: A Life in Letters (2008); biographies by M. Shelden (1994) and N. Sherry (3 vol., 1989–2004); studies by H. J. Donaghy (1983), A. A. De Vitis (1986), and J. Meyers, ed. (1990).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Graham Greene: Selected full-text books and articles

Graham Greene By Francis Wyndham Longmans, Green, 1955
21 Stories By Graham Greene Viking Press, 1962
Librarian’s tip: Includes "The Destructors," "The Blue Film," and "Special Duties," and more
Graham Greene's Fictions: The Virtues of Extremity By Cates Baldridge University of Missouri Press, 2000
Graham Greene: The Entertainer By Peter Wolfe Southern Illinois University Press, 1972
Graham Greene's Catholic Imagination By Mark Bosco Oxford University Press, 2004
The Quiet American and the Novel By Kerr, Douglas Studies in the Novel, Vol. 38, No. 1, Spring 2006
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Graham Greene and Christian Despair: Tragic Aesthetics in Brighton Rock and the Heart of the Matter By Sinclair, Peter M Renascence: Essays on Values in Literature, Vol. 63, No. 2, Winter 2011
Allusions at Work in Graham Greene's A Gun for Sale and Brighton Rock By Dorrill, James F Renascence: Essays on Values in Literature, Vol. 66, No. 3, Summer 2014
Warring Fictions: American Literary Culture and the Vietnam War Narrative By Jim Neilson University Press of Mississippi, 1998
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "La Condition Humaine" discusses Greene's "The Quiet American"
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