Graham Greene : Contribution to Novel

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      Probably the best-known novelist of the period under consideration is Graham Greene (1904-1991) who, like so many of his fellow-writers came from the professional classes and after public school went up to Oxford University. He has written a considerable number of novels which, while popular, have none the less pleased the critics because of the tautness of their construction and their imaginative exploration of character. Whatever he writes seems to be topical, not justin subject-matter: and location but in the emotions stimulated, for Greene has the gift of evoking the atmosphere of a period as well as giving an accurate depiction of the surroundings. The world is brutal and humourless; in it his characters pursue or are pursued. Usually they are insignificant people with a little authority who are forced to make a choice and to suffer the pangs of indecision and conscience.

Greene's Roman Catholicism has encouraged him to see action as a series of moral dilemmas; he depicts not right and wrong but fundamental good and fundamental evil; his characters seek after evil sometimes on principle and sometimes from lack of initiative to do otherwise, and in doing so they acknowledge the reverse of evil.
Graham Greene

      Greene's Roman Catholicism has encouraged him to see action as a series of moral dilemmas; he depicts not right and wrong but fundamental good and fundamental evil; his characters seek after evil sometimes on principle and sometimes from lack of initiative to do otherwise, and in doing so they acknowledge the reverse of evil. By accepting the Devil they believe in God. The settings of his novels range from West Africa to Cuba, England to Viet-Nam by selecting significant details he sketches in a background that looks authentic and then, by symbolic touches, draws one's attention to matters of special importance.

      Greene is undoubtedly a major novelist of this century, in style and content, "among the few, the very few, of our great living novelists". The contest of good and evil rages throughout his novels. In all his novels is the ceaseless striving for grace that frees men of the bondage of sin. He is a competent artisan whose plots are cleverly but unconventionally revealed.

      The most noteworthy of Greene's novels are It's a Battlefield (1934), England Made Me (1935) Brighton Rock (1938), The Power and the Glory (1940), The Heart of the Matter (1948), The End of the Afair (1951), The Quiet American (1955), A Burnt-Out Case (1961), The Comedians (1966), and Travels with My Aunt (1969). Graham Greene's short stories have become increasingly popular; recent collections are May We Borrow Your Husband ? (1967) and Shades of Greene (1976), He has also written what he calls 'entertainments.' These are stories of crime and retribution, but they too are concerned with moral difficulties bedevilling people in a confused and violent world. The best of these books are A Gun for Sale (1936), The Ministry of Fear (1943), The Third Man (1950), and a satire on contemporary spy novels, Our Man in Havana (1958).

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