The Unquiet Englishman: A Life of Graham Greene

Richard Greene. Norton, $40 (512p) ISBN 978-0-393-08432-0
Greene (Edith Sitwell: Avant Garde Poet, English Genius) presents an exhaustive account of the life of Graham Greene (1904–1991). The writer (no relation to his biographer) grew up in middle-class comfort in idyllic Berkhamsted but struggled with what was eventually diagnosed as bipolar depression starting in his early teens, which worsened as he entered Oxford, where he later claimed to have played Russian roulette six times. The biography creates a vivid impression of how, despite these mental health struggles, Greene kept up an impressive pace as a writer, producing film reviews, screenplays, and such classic novels as The End of the Affair, Brighton Rock, and The Heart of the Matter. His exploits as a world traveler were also prodigious; most fascinating are his experiences in Africa, namely his journey through Liberia on foot in the 1930s to research modern slavery for a humanitarian group, and later, his work as a British intelligence agent in Sierra Leone and South Africa. It’s awe-inspiring that Greene fit so much into a single life, and it’s no small feat that his latest biographer has so skillfully captured that life in a single work that can sit confidently next to Norman Sherry’s three-volume biography of Greene. Agent: Jill Bialosky, Shipman Agency. (Jan.)
Reviewed on : 09/16/2020
Release date: 11/10/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
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