Thursday, February 17, 2011

Becoming a Writer: Graham Greene

Day #125 Tower of GreeneImage by edtechie99 via Flickr
British man of letters Graham Greene (1904-1991) was born in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire; he was the son of Charles Greene and Marion Raymond Greene, a first cousin of the author Robert Louis Stevenson. The wealth of the family came from Brazilian coffee.

Becoming a writer was easy for Graham Green since he was endowed with a natural ability to tell stories; thus, he became a prolific writer:  novelist, short-story writer, playwright and journalist, whose novels treat moral issues in the context of political settings. Greene was one of the most widely read novelist of the 20th-century. Given the settings, adventure and suspense with which he filled his novels, many of them were made into successful films.

While it would be easy to see him simply as a writer of genre fiction —thrillers, which Greene called dubbed "entertainments"— and many of his works, such as Stamboul Train (1932), The Ministry of Fear (1943) and The Quiet American ( 1955), can be read with pleasure as thrillers and as serious works as well. John LeCarre, whose work he much influenced, declared that Greene's books were fraught with moral dilemmas that give them a gravitas lacking in most of the genre books that his competitors wrote.

Greene was a convert to Catholicism, and his religious belief and doubt-emerge in his most serious fiction, such as The Heart of the Matter (1948).

Today he is remembered for two novels: In The End of the Affair, the narrator and protagonists Maurice Bendix tries to comprehend why Sarah —a married paramour— left him. Maurice discovers that when he was injured in a bomb blast during the war, Sarah promised God that she would end the affair if Maurice is saved. Maurice’s reaction borders on Catholic blasphemy.

In The Quiet American (1955), which was about American involvement in Indochina (Vietnam), he focuses on the murder of Alden Pyle (the American of the title). The narrator, Thomas Fowler, an irreverent, opium-smoking, and vindictive journalist, has Pyle killed by the local rebels because Pyle had stolen his native girl-friend Phuong.  

To become a writer I write essays every day. Since English is my second language, in writing essays I consult Mary Duffy's Sentence Openers.

When I write fiction --or fiction writing of novels and short stories-- I consult Toolbox for Writers
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