Saturday, 27 June 2015

Graham Greene

I'm in between books at the moment, and have so many disparate things jostling for attention, I'm not sure what to read next, but am gravitating towards something by Graham Greene. This is on the back of two Greene documentaries I've watched in the last week or so - Dangerous Edge: A Life of Graham Greene, currently doing the rounds on Sky Arts, and Graham Greene: The Hunted Man which came as one of the supplements on Criterion's Third Man DVD. Dangerous Edge, from 2013 serves as a fine, well-rounded introduction to Greene's work and is salted with some of the more insalubrious aspects of the author's life - his shadowy work as a British Intelligence agent in West Africa, his extramarital affairs and his battles with depression.

By contrast, Graham Greene: The Hunted Man, originally made in 1968 for BBC's Omnibus arts series takes a more sober if unconventional approach to its subject - Greene consented to be interviewed for the documentary on the proviso that his voice alone be used, so the documentary is augmented with travelogue montages and short dramatic stagings from Brighton Rock, The Power and the Glory, and The Heart of the Matter. Over the course of the interview sessions, taped on board the Orient Express en route from Paris to Istanbul, Greene speaks candidly and quite brilliantly about his life, his deeply felt religious sensibility, his need for travel and the nuts and bolts of his writing - when asked about planning the framework of his books, Greene reveals: "I generally have the beginning clear, the end clear, a mountain range between the two and then hope for surprises". I'm not entirely sure if I have an urge to read Greene or read about Greene such was his extraordinary life so for now I'm reaching towards The Heart of the Matter or The Quiet American for their biographical aspects.

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