Graham Greene discussion

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Michael Selden : Biography about Greene

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message 1: by Gary (new)

Gary | 22 comments I tried to find this book in bookstores,and no one had it on their shelves. Has anyone read it? Thoughts?


message 2: by Gary (new)

Gary | 22 comments I saw the man in person talking about his new bio about Mark Twain. I sat down and started that book,and could barely contain myself to put it down. It was amazing!


message 4: by Greenelander (new)

Greenelander | 59 comments I like that summation from Publishers' Weekly:

"Shelden's scrutiny of Greene's work is scrupulous, and certainly suggests that some reassessment of much of it is in order. In the case of Greene's private life, it is clear that his habitual evasiveness and cunning render many of his actions subject to various interpretations. Shelden's book is certainly an impressive brief for the prosecution, even if this most mysterious of contemporary writers continues ultimately to baffle and elude us."


message 5: by Jessica (new)

Jessica (jesstrea) | 412 comments Mod
Gary, we touched a bit on this book in the 'Greene the Man' thread. Recently I picked it up in the library to get a sense of it. It seemed gossipy and mean-spirited. I am sure there are worthwhile things in it, but I didn't feel like reading suppositions about Greene's preferred sexual practices, for example. And how the hotel maid complained about dirty sheets...
Another time. maybe.


message 6: by Greenelander (new)

Greenelander | 59 comments Doesn't one of his characters refer to dirty sheets at some point? I find even rather lurid little details like this fascinating. That they show up in the work as well as in the life makes his whole oeuvre shimmer with authenticity, somehow. Does that make me a weirdo? heh


message 7: by Helen (new)

Helen (helenmarylesshankman) | 247 comments Mod
I love that those bits show up in the work. I'm always surprised by how honest he is in his fiction. That's one of the things that's so great about his writing, the lurid little details. However, in GG's hands, it's poetry. In the hands of a biography with an axe to grind, it's gossipy and mean-spirited.


message 8: by Jessica (new)

Jessica (jesstrea) | 412 comments Mod
I don't need to read the life to have the work shimmer with authenticity... but mostly it was the tone of this biography that turned me off (as Helen states above). Shelden seems to either hate GG, or to be gleefully nailing him...


message 9: by Jessica (last edited Mar 09, 2010 03:46PM) (new)

Jessica (jesstrea) | 412 comments Mod
There are a lot of 1-star reviews on amazon, here's one [which isn't to say one shouldn't read it for oneself, but...:]:
By Stephen K Owens (Marietta, GA) -In the introduction to this biography, Michael Shelden claims that he undertook this study Graham Greene's life with the hope of showing that Greene was unfairly denied the Nobel prize for literature. But Shelden's insistence that Greene's work is filled with hate and devotion to the 'glory of evil' belies his stated intention. At one point, Shelden waxes about his desire that Greene's work die out completely so that the world can finally be rid of it. The paucity of praise for Greene's good work, the almost gleeful anticipation of Greene's declining years, and the way Shelden repeatedly read ridiculously bad motives into Greene's every private action led me to believe that Shelden had never enjoyed reading Greene's work and had only undertaken this biography in order to smear his name. It is true that Greene was not a morally upright citizen, but he never claimed to be. The mystery of Greene's novels is that imperfect, even evil, people can become instruments of grace. Such may also be said of Greene's life and work.


message 10: by Helen (new)

Helen (helenmarylesshankman) | 247 comments Mod
Perfect.


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