Letter: Greene giant

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The Independent Online
IS POPULAR culture a contradiction in terms? Geoffrey Wheatcroft ('Behind the jolly Greene giant', 10 July) clearly thinks so. He says Graham Greene was guilty of 'incurable frivolity' and doubts he was ever entirely serious or sincere about anything. These are simply extensions of the well-worn theory, put about by Anthony Burgess, among others, that Greene could never be a great novelist because he was popular. There are many historical precedents, Dickens being the most obvious example.

The intellectual arrogance of this is breath-taking: it says, in effect, that because Greene could be read and understood by a large mass of readers, the messages he was seeking to convey could not possibly carry any weight. The assertion overlooks the possibility that Greene's greatness lies in the very fact that he was able to use everyday language to convey complex ideas and emotions.

Julian Roskams

Bicester, Oxon