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This collection of essays include several essays from "The Lost Childhood", often revised or expanded, while over a third are collected here for the first time. The first essay describes how Majorie Bowen's "Viper of Milan" inspired Greene to begin to write at 14 - the last, his return in 1968 to Sierra Leone, the setting of "The Heart of the Matter". This collection of essays include several essays from "The Lost Childhood", often revised or expanded, while over a third are collected here for the first time. The first essay describes how Majorie Bowen's "Viper of Milan" inspired Greene to begin to write at 14 - the last, his return in 1968 to Sierra Leone, the setting of "The Heart of the Matter".


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This collection of essays include several essays from "The Lost Childhood", often revised or expanded, while over a third are collected here for the first time. The first essay describes how Majorie Bowen's "Viper of Milan" inspired Greene to begin to write at 14 - the last, his return in 1968 to Sierra Leone, the setting of "The Heart of the Matter". This collection of essays include several essays from "The Lost Childhood", often revised or expanded, while over a third are collected here for the first time. The first essay describes how Majorie Bowen's "Viper of Milan" inspired Greene to begin to write at 14 - the last, his return in 1968 to Sierra Leone, the setting of "The Heart of the Matter".

30 review for Collected Essays

  1. 5 out of 5

    E. G.

    Author's Note Acknowledgements Part I: Personal Prologue --The Lost Childhood Part II: Novels and Novelists [1] --Henry James: The Private Universe --Henry James: The Religious Aspect --The Portrait of a Lady --The Plays of Henry James --The Dark Backward: a Footnote --Two Friends --From Feathers to Iron [2] --Fielding and Sterne --Servants of the Novel --Romance in Pimlico --The Young Dickens --Hans Andersen [3] --François Mauriac --Bernanos, the Beginner --The Burden of Childhood --Man Made Angry --G. K. Ches Author's Note Acknowledgements Part I: Personal Prologue --The Lost Childhood Part II: Novels and Novelists [1] --Henry James: The Private Universe --Henry James: The Religious Aspect --The Portrait of a Lady --The Plays of Henry James --The Dark Backward: a Footnote --Two Friends --From Feathers to Iron [2] --Fielding and Sterne --Servants of the Novel --Romance in Pimlico --The Young Dickens --Hans Andersen [3] --François Mauriac --Bernanos, the Beginner --The Burden of Childhood --Man Made Angry --G. K. Chesterton --Walter de la Mare's Short Stories --The Saratoga Trunk --Arabia Deserta --The Poker-Face --Ford Madox Ford --Frederick Rolfe: Edwardian Inferno --Frederick Rolfe: From the Devil's Side --Frederick Rolfe: A Spoiled Priest --Remembering Mr Jones --The Domestic Background --The Public Life --Goats and Incense --Some Notes on Somerset Maugham --The Town of Malgudi --Rider Haggard's Secret --Journey Into Success --Isis Idol --The Last Buchan --Edgar Wallace --Beatrix Potter --Harkaway's Oxford Part III: Some Characters [1] --Poetry from Limbo --An Unheroic Dramatist --Doctor Oates of Salamanca --Anthony à Wood --John Evelyn --Background for Heroes --A Hoax on Mr Hulton --A Jacobite Poet --Charles Churchill --The Lover of Leeds --Inside Oxford [2] --George Darley --The Apostles Intervene --Mr Cook's Century --The Explorers --'Sore Bones; Much Headache' --Francis Parkman --Don in Mexico [3] --Samuel Butler --The Ugly Act --Eric Gill --Herbert Read --The Conservative --Norman Douglas --Invincible Ignorance --The Victor and the Victim --Simone Weil Three Priests: --1. The Oxford Chaplain --2. The Paradox of a Pope --3. Eighty Years on the Barrack Square Three Revolutionaries: --1. The Man as Pure as Lucifer --2. The Marxist Heretic --3. The Spy [4] --Portrait of a Maiden Lady --Film Lunch --The Unknown War --Great Dog of Weimar --The British Pig --George Moore and Others --At Home Part IV: Personal Postscript --The Soupsweet Land

  2. 4 out of 5

    Smiley

    3.75 stars First published by Bodley Head in 1969 amid his literary fame, this seemingly rarely seen nowadays 345-page paperback would entertain and inform both Greene newcomers as well as readers since he has written them during his long career as one of those famous English novelists in the 20th century. It is interesting because: Collected Essays contains nearly eighty essays, reviews and occasional pieces composed between novels, plays and travel books over four prolific decades. From Henry Ja 3.75 stars First published by Bodley Head in 1969 amid his literary fame, this seemingly rarely seen nowadays 345-page paperback would entertain and inform both Greene newcomers as well as readers since he has written them during his long career as one of those famous English novelists in the 20th century. It is interesting because: Collected Essays contains nearly eighty essays, reviews and occasional pieces composed between novels, plays and travel books over four prolific decades. From Henry James and Somerset Maugham to Ho Chi Minh and Kim Philby, the range of subjects is eclectic and stimulating, and the characters - are brought vividly to life. Collected Essays is as revealing as autobiography and as characteristically rich in humour, insight and doubt. (back cover) There are four parts in this collection: I Personal Prologue, II Novels and Novelists, III Some Characters, and IV Personal Postscript. Each part itself would amaze us because it covers different topic and content lengths as follows: [Some topics I read in the brackets, first round] Part I: 1 essay (The Lost Childhood) Part II: Subparts 1: 7 essays (Henry James: The Private Universe, . . .); 2: 5 essays (Fielding and Sterne, The Young Dickens, . . .); 3: 26 essays (G. K. Chesterton, Ford Madox Ford, Some Notes on Somerset Maugham, The Town of Maguldi, . . .) Part III: Subparts 1: 11 essays (John Evelyn, Background for Heroes, Inside Oxford, . . .); 2: 7 essays (-); 3: 15 essays (Samuel Butler, Simone Weil, The Man as Pure as Lucifer, The Spy, . . .); 4: 7 essays (Portrait of a Maiden Lady, George Moore and Others, At Home, . . .) Part IV: 1 essay (-) I found reading his essays a bit different from his novels due to probably the years he wrote dating back before I was born or when I was a child, a sort of time mismatch, that is, what he wrote belongs to the past, not contemporary. For instance, from the first three essays mentioned above, 'The Lost Childhood' was written in 1947, 'Henry James: The Private Universe', in 1936, and 'Fielding and Sterne', in 1937. For some reason, I didn't claim I enjoyed reading all of them; first, it would be the unpredictability regarding their lengths normally covering 1.8 to 9.2 pages so it was an arguably furious reading instead when I kept reading these first, second and third lengthy essays, 'Henry James: The Private Universe', and 'The Paradox of a Pope' (each covering 13.5 pages); 'George Darley' (11.5 pages); 'Henry James: The Religious Aspect' (10 pages). Second, knowing French is an inevitable advantage if we want to better understand his essays because we would come across French words, phrases, sentences, etc. or even in junks of paragraphs in 'Francois Mauriac' (pp. 91-96), 'Bernanos, the Beginner' (pp. 96-99), etc. I had no choice but consolingly skipped them. All in all, it's not a dull book since it depends on how we read each essay. As for me, I kept reading him as a nostalgic tribute related to my first reading of his The Power and the Glory in my college years that, eventually, has since empowered and inspired me to read him as many as I could and I've found reading his novels and some essays amazingly rewarding at some points. For instance, I'd like to recommend his last essay in this book entitled The Soup Sweetland (Part IV Personal Postscript) written in 1968; it's one of his best in this collection (to cite some brilliant pieces I liked: Simone Weil, The Man as Pure as Lucifer, The Spy, etc.), Greene's newcomers or fans should read this essay because he has divulged some of his past intelligence assignments based on his secret service life as well as a few novels' backgrounds as we can see from the following excerpts sentimentally tinged with his powerful reminiscences in which few writers could arguably surpass him. The start of my life as 59200 was not propitious. I announced my safe arrival by means of a book code. (I had chosen a novel by T. F. Powys from which I could detach sufficiently lubricious phrases for my own amusement), and a large safe came in the next convoy with a leaflet of instructions and my codes. The code-books were a constant source of interest, for the most unexpected word occurred in there necessarily limited vocabulary. I wondered how often use had been made of the symbol for 'eunuch', and I was not content until I had found an opportunity to use it myself in a message to my colleague in Gambia: 'As the chief eunuch said I cannot repeat cannot come.' . . . (p. 342) It was not very often I went to the City Hotel, where The Heart of the Matter began. There one escaped the protocol-conscious members of the secretariat. It was a home from home for men who had not encountered success at any turn of the long road and who no longer expected it. They were not beach combers, for they had jobs, but their jobs had no prestige value. They were failures, but they knew more of Africa than the successes who were waiting to get transferred to a smarter colony and were careful to take no risks with their personal file. . . . (p. 343)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rick

    Greene is among my favorite novelists of the 20th Century and I bought this collection some years ago on impulse, but after browsing the table of contents put off reading it for some time because many of the reviews and essays were on topics I had little or no knowledge of—writers of whom I’d only read a little or of whom had never heard and who have since disappeared from the landscape, topics arcane to British academic or social culture of a certain period and class. Once I began, however, I f Greene is among my favorite novelists of the 20th Century and I bought this collection some years ago on impulse, but after browsing the table of contents put off reading it for some time because many of the reviews and essays were on topics I had little or no knowledge of—writers of whom I’d only read a little or of whom had never heard and who have since disappeared from the landscape, topics arcane to British academic or social culture of a certain period and class. Once I began, however, I found Greene great company regardless of the topic—and not all are unfamiliar. There are reviews of Henry James, Beatrix Potter, Rudyard Kipling, Somerset Maugham, Ford Madox Ford, and G.K. Chesterton and essays on Ho Chi Minh, Fidel Castro, Havelock Ellis, Kim Philby, and Pius XII. Whether well-known or obscure, however, something interesting is observed, something insightful or entertaining captured. Very little is boring. Greene’s prose is direct and without fussy stylish flourishes but its freedom from arty mannerism does not mean the writing isn’t artful, even beautiful. It is that and often. And sometimes profoundly so as these two samples from his essay on sexologist Havelock Ellis attest: “After a time they ceased to live as man and wife, though a kind of passionate tenderness always remained like a buoy to mark the position of a wreck.” And, “On his side he never relented: he would write coolly, tenderly back about the spring flowers, and his work was never interrupted: the sexology studies continued to appear, full of case histories and invincible ignorance.” The phrase “invincible ignorance” is one I will find some frequent use for in this age where creationism receives the support of elected school boards and make-believe facts live immortally on cable TV and the internet. The essays were written between 1929 and the late 1960s (Greene lived and worked for another 20 years) and cover a range of topics from books, politics, Catholicism, university life, travel and exploration. Greene is remarkably free of the fevers of his time, even writing of Kim Philby’s betrayal with an odd, sanguine sympathy. (Greene had resigned from the secret service under Philby because he found him repulsive but had thought his offending behavior motivated by personal ambition and felt better that it was dedication to a cause, however wrongheaded. It was nobler than selfishness. He could like him again.) He was fond of the young Castro, though he concludes that a “sympathetic visitor like myself lives, of course, in the bright sunlight of the revolution; these Cubans who have chosen exile must have seen the shadows, some of them perhaps imaginary, some of them real enough.” A convert to Catholicism he strongly defended the Church, even popes about whom history has been more ambivalent. But the point of reading Greene is not to agree with him but to engage with a fine, provocative observer and critic, who is right more often than most and even when he is wrong is a thoughtful challenge to one’s own beliefs—that challenge that opponents of free speech or proponents of political correctness (right and left doesn’t matter; there’s no difference beyond what they’d like to bully into silence) are afraid of because their own beliefs are so vulnerable and shallowly held. There is nothing shallow, timid, or bullying about Greene’s writing. He trusts ideas and words, and trusts his readers to make up their own minds.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Dane Cobain

    There’s only so much I can really say about this because this is literally a collection of Graham Greene’s essays on a variety of topics. Some of them are pretty dull and difficult for me, as a modern reader, to really understand the context. Others of them are super insightful, particularly the essays in the section where he deals with his thoughts on other well-known authors. I can’t really recommend this if you’re not a Graham Greene fan, because part of the beauty of this is that it teaches t There’s only so much I can really say about this because this is literally a collection of Graham Greene’s essays on a variety of topics. Some of them are pretty dull and difficult for me, as a modern reader, to really understand the context. Others of them are super insightful, particularly the essays in the section where he deals with his thoughts on other well-known authors. I can’t really recommend this if you’re not a Graham Greene fan, because part of the beauty of this is that it teaches the reader a little more about what his life was like and how the world around him related back to the books that he wrote. But if you are a Graham Greene fan then the chances are that you’ll get a lot out of this, even if it is pretty heavy going. I read this as my “bedtime book” after reading Graham Greene’s letters, and I must say that the essays make for better reading. The letters were pretty much introduced as fragments without any real context, which made it difficult for me as a modern reader to understand what he was talking about. There’s no such problem here, which made the book much more enjoyable. All in all, you should have a good idea already as to whether this is something that you might be interested in. I’m glad I got to it.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mary Catelli

    A large number of essays. Most reviews of books and discussion of authors -- a few of whom you probably heard of -- many contemporary to him and others historical. The variegated subjects give him a lot of different topics to hold forth on. Also on a few other topics, like the experience of being bombed.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    I didn't know Greene wrote essays, but 824 is a good place to browse in the library. From 1969, although this copy was not heavily used. Especially good on other novelists; both Fielding and James were near the top of Greene's pantheon, but Sterne, Dickens, Maugham,Conrad, Kipling, Narayan, Doyle, and a great essay about Rider Haggard, his favorite writer as a kid. I didn't know Greene wrote essays, but 824 is a good place to browse in the library. From 1969, although this copy was not heavily used. Especially good on other novelists; both Fielding and James were near the top of Greene's pantheon, but Sterne, Dickens, Maugham,Conrad, Kipling, Narayan, Doyle, and a great essay about Rider Haggard, his favorite writer as a kid.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Gavin

    A great writer largely writing about other writers. Many of the subjects were well known to Greene as contemporaries, the interesting thing about which is that many are little known now. That is, of course, excepting some giants of literature, who should be familiar to all. Greene comes across as quite a snippy man in many of the pieces here, particularly the ones written towards the end of his longish life. Overall a well wortwhile collection.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lloyd Downey

    Many years ago I read something by Graham Greene and was not greatly impressed so I have avoided his writing ever since. However, I picked up this little book because it was a series of short essays and I thought my son might improve himself and his writing by reading a few of them. Of course, that has not eventuated so i have been reduced to reading them myself. They are a rather eclectic lot. Much of it falls into the category of literary criticism and I cannot but be impressed with the depth Many years ago I read something by Graham Greene and was not greatly impressed so I have avoided his writing ever since. However, I picked up this little book because it was a series of short essays and I thought my son might improve himself and his writing by reading a few of them. Of course, that has not eventuated so i have been reduced to reading them myself. They are a rather eclectic lot. Much of it falls into the category of literary criticism and I cannot but be impressed with the depth of Greene's reading and his grasp of language. the first couple of essays are reviews of Henry James and initially I felt the old distaste for the overly wrought prose and the carefully balanced sentences. It all seemed somewhat contrived. And trying a bit to hard to be "literary".....which in fact just made it rather difficult to read. However, I persevered and read a few essays deeper into the book. Confession: I have not read all the essays...just a selection. But sometimes there are flashes of brilliance ...and his captivation by Rider Haggard and King Solomon's mines reflects some of my own early fascination with books ...including King Solomon's mines and Biggles in the Desert...which I think rather draws from Rider Haggard. And on a biography of Conan Doyle: "it isn't easy for an author to remain a pleasant human being: both success and failure are usually of a crippling kind". And on Ford Maddox Ford, p 127, "A novelist is not a vegetable absorbing nourishment mechanically from soil and air; materials not easily or painlessly gained..." I have come away, rather more appreciative of Greene's writing....and even impressed with his self deprecating addendum to his review of Beatrix Potter's work:"On the publication of this essay, I received a somewhat acid letter from Miss Potter correcting certain details.......She denied there had been any emotional disturbance at the time she had been writing Mr Tod: She was however, suffering from the after-effects of the flu. In conclusion she deprecated sharply the 'Freudian school' of criticism." I still find much of his prose to be overwrought but recognise that he has a style all f his own that is actually quite entertaining ...though he is inclined to flaunt his erudition. Three stars from me

  9. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    Greene’s Collected Essays was published in 1969 and is a compilation of most of the essays in The Lost Childhood and Other Essays (making up about half of the book) with many other essays and stories. For reasons known only to Greene, some of his early stories in The Lost Childhood are not reprinted here, most notably “The Revolver in the Corner Cupboard.” In his “Author’s Note,” Greene says that his selection principle was “to include nothing of which I can say that, if I were writing today, I Greene’s Collected Essays was published in 1969 and is a compilation of most of the essays in The Lost Childhood and Other Essays (making up about half of the book) with many other essays and stories. For reasons known only to Greene, some of his early stories in The Lost Childhood are not reprinted here, most notably “The Revolver in the Corner Cupboard.” In his “Author’s Note,” Greene says that his selection principle was “to include nothing of which I can say that, if I were writing today, I would write in a different sense.” The new essays include works on G. K. Chesterton, Somerset Maugham, Rider Haggard, Edgar Wallace, Norman Douglas and George Moore. It concludes with a “personal postscript” titled “The Soupsweet Land,” a delightful memory of his years in Africa, not previously published elsewhere. The volume was published first in London by The Bodley Head in March, 1969, and then in the New York by Viking that June.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Chris Oleson

    So many of these essays and book reviews and remembrances were written in the 1930s and 1940s--a bit before my time. Add in the England-centric flavor of the writers and personages. I often hoped that Greene was creating Borgesian tales about fake books and writers. That said, he has nudged me to read more Henry James and Ford Madox Ford.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Arun Divakar

    Consider this : Johns writes in a fashion free of the affectations of a period he inhabited. While the same cannot be told of Fredrick or of Johann, it most certainly holds true for Teresa & Rodriguez. Yes, I do have the same question as you : Who are all these people ? This is mostly how a majority of essays in this book proceed. This would be an easy task for someone who is erudite enough to recognize most author's mentioned here and their styles. But for me it was very much similar to groping Consider this : Johns writes in a fashion free of the affectations of a period he inhabited. While the same cannot be told of Fredrick or of Johann, it most certainly holds true for Teresa & Rodriguez. Yes, I do have the same question as you : Who are all these people ? This is mostly how a majority of essays in this book proceed. This would be an easy task for someone who is erudite enough to recognize most author's mentioned here and their styles. But for me it was very much similar to groping in the dark. I have no idea of Henry James's work nor of Ford Madox Ford or the intricacies in the life of Joseph Conrad. In short I had to skim over a lot of essays in the book. Of the ones that I read, the insight that the author brings in is remarkable. Greene is sharp and articulate enough to express his views in a very convincing manner. The range of essays covered while mostly pertaining to literature also makes forays into politics,espionage and we also catch the author on a few moods of introspection. The most interesting piece was the one on Kim Philby. Through words there seeps in a sympathy. This for a man for whom the closest association in British English is 'Traitor'. Greene served under Philby in the MI6 and makes no secret of how humane a character he was during their tenure together. For all the other essays which have a critic's lens piece, this stands out as the most humane.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Russio

    Anything that GG has to say is alright by me. In this diverse collection he talks on novelists and other cultural impresarios mostly, with the odd film review wedged in among thoughtful (high-brow) analyses of the work of Henry James and Somerset Maugham, etc.

  13. 5 out of 5

    David

    One forgets the Greene use to review movies so, apart from the other important material he has written about, there are some of his thoughts on the English cinema. Brilliant material.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lawrence Patterson

  15. 5 out of 5

    D M Leggett

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mark O'Hagan

  17. 5 out of 5

    Randal

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mithradates K

  19. 5 out of 5

    Fergal

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rjb

  21. 5 out of 5

    Andreas

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nikolay Nikiforov

  23. 5 out of 5

    Fre

  24. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Harvey

  25. 5 out of 5

    Deb Bobdobolina

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jon Arnold

  27. 4 out of 5

    Chris

  28. 4 out of 5

    Maggie

  29. 4 out of 5

    Alexander

  30. 5 out of 5

    Owenmcgrann

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