The Reading Room

The Portable Graham Greene

Graham Greene condensed…

pgWant and/or need Graham Greene on the hop? Then fear not, Penguin Classics have the Portable Graham Greene in their classics range. It’s a re-run of an original selection from 1973 which Greene lent a hand in putting together. This version, unsurprisingly, has been updated and extended into a five hundred page plus edition which includes the complete novels of The Third Man and The Heart of the Matter.

Edited by Philip Stratford, the book begins with a useful  breakdown of key events, books and Greene’s travels from his birth in 1904 until his death in 1991. Anyone who is familiar with Greene’s life will no doubt feel a pang of envy at a life well lived and travelled. Fans of Greene will be grateful that he left a considerable legacy of novels, essays, reports and letters and this book highlights a cross-section of his more memorable ones.

What one does discover within these pages is Greene’s ability to paint a scene in a foreign land during a time when few had any understanding of life beyond their own towns borders. He captures the heat and the humidity and the ‘farangs’ inability to deal with it. Look no further than Louise Scobie in The Heart of the Matter who yearns for a sense of Western normality and you wonder whom Greene based her character upon during his time in Sierra Leone.

There are literary essays as well as public statements he made on a number of issues he felt aggrieved about including torture by Irish paramilitaries during the troubles and the repression of the Soviet people.

Much of what has been selected are incomplete works, the book is intended as an amuse bouche to his books proper and there is enough to endear the reader to Greene’s unique style and the marvellous landscapes and characters he created.

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