Right of Reply : Michael Shelden defends his biography of Graham Greene, The Man Within
Thursday 15 September 1994
'What surprised me so much about the critical reaction was that no attention was given to my view of Greene's work. Critics gave examples of all the sexual turmoil in his life and then took the high ground, saying 'How dare he reveal all this?'. They won't say a word about the 20 pages I've got on either Brighton Rock or The Power and the Glory, which are wonderful works.
'I'm fully prepared to recognise his genius but it's odd that people insist on accepting Greene at face value. Throughout his life he was involved in some sort of deception. They accept that he was strictly heterosexual and yet he wrote three plays with strong homosexual themes.
'I'm not condemning him at all. To me the biographer's job is to talk about the life in all dimensions, including the sexual life. The tone is irreverent rather than hostile. I'm hostile to some of his acts and I would like to know who wouldn't be when Greene puts in print lines like 'little Jewish bitches' on the eve of the Second World War?
'I disagree that the book is under-sourced. The fact that I don't always reveal my sources has more to do with what is legally and diplomatically correct.
''If Greene is going to survive as a novelist it will depend upon him being taken seriously as a literary voice. I took the cue from Orwell, who argued that you could condemn the actions of a man and still admire his work. That's all I'm doing. What I think is going on here is a massive denial, a fear that if you admit something, then you somehow discredit Greene. He made some serious mistakes in his life and I want to acknowledge those. Isn't it, in fact, dishonest to suppress them?'
'Graham Greene: The Man Within', Heinemann (pounds 20)
Michael Shelden is currently Professor of English at Indiana State University. He was talking to Dominic Cavendish
Is the comedy album making a comeback?comedy
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 What if 35 Palestinians had died, and 800 Israelis?
- 2 Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
- 3 The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
- 4 'Women should not laugh in public,' says Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister in morality speech
- 5 Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire
Led Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
New film Old Fashioned is 50 Shades of Grey for Christians, claims its creator
Best movies on Netflix UK and US: 32 films that will end your endless scrolling
Freddie Prinze Jr on 24: 'Kiefer Sutherland was the most unprofessional dude in the world – I hated every moment of it'
Coolio has sold his soul to Pornhub
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Richard Dawkins tweets: 'Date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse'
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – Britain as others see us
- < Previous
- Next >