Books March 2005
A review of The Life of Graham Greene, Volume Three: 1955-1991, by Norman Sherry.
The Life of Graham Greene,
Volume Three: 1955-1991.
Viking, 906 pages, $39.95
Graham Greene, as Eliot wrote of Baudelaire, had a true form of acedia, arising from the unsuccessful struggle towards the spiritual life. Damnation, for him, was an immediate form of salvation from the ennui of modern existence. Like Baudelaire, he could not escape suffering and could not transcend it, so he attracted pain to himself. Greene frequented opium dens in Indochina and whorehouses around the world. His life was punctuated by suicide attempts, multiple mistresses, and emotional crises. His art was the poetry of departure, the fiction of flight, the search for hell. He preferred to be wretched rather than contented, a Catholic without God. He did not seek religion for consolation but for guilt, which twisted through him like a dagger. Sinning intensified his misery and...
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