Synopses & Reviews
October 2, 2004, marks the centenary of one of the twentieth century's most important literary figures: Graham Greene. In volume three, Norman Sherry brings this magisterial biography twenty-seven years in the making to a close. Following Greene, still an agent for the British government, from prerevolutionary Cuba and the Belgian Congo to adulterous interludes in Capri and Antibes, Sherry shows Greene at the height of his fame, in the company of other literary luminaries such as T. S. Eliot, Evelyn Waugh, Ian Fleming, and Noël Coward.
Through unparalleled access to letters, to diaries, and to Greene himself, Sherry reveals with insight and eloquence Greene's obsessions, his complicated religious feelings, and most significantly, his art. This volume, with its wealth of new and shocking details, brings to a close what Margaret Atwood called "the definitive biography."
"In time for the centenary of Greene's birth comes Sherry's magnificent, much anticipated final installment of his biographic trilogy. At this stage in Greene's life, his literary career was soaring, his celebrity international and his personal life profoundly unhappy. Unable to come to any permanent arrangement with his married mistress, Catherine Walston, and continually struggling with depression and suicide, he sought means of escape in his books and his travels. Sherry's promise to follow literally in his subject's footsteps yields especially vivid portrayals of Castro's Cuba, the last colonial days of the Belgian Congo and Papa 'Doc' Duvalier's nightmarish Haiti. Once again, Sherry diligently tracks down the actual inspirations for fictional characters and situations (as well as possible work by Greene for the British secret service) and judiciously discusses Greene's idiosyncratic Catholicism. His more questionable activities, however, such as aiding the causes of Panamanian dictator Torrijos and the Sandinista regime, do not escape Sherry's scrutiny. Sherry himself enters the story in 1974, eventually becoming Greene's sanctioned biographer, and he comments throughout about his experience finishing this monumental work, such as his arguments with competing biographer Michael Sheldon. With Sherry's access to all Greene's papers, his personal bond with his subject and his keen understanding of the enigmatic author, Sherry has no biographic rival; this work is authoritative. Photos not seen by PW. (On sale Sept. 27) FYI: Penguin is simultaneously publishing commemorative editions of Greene's most popular works and reissuing in paperback the first two volumes of Sherry's biography." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Marked by sorrow and disappointment, but plenty of fascinating adventures. An exemplary biography, of profound interest to admirers of Greene's work and to students of contemporary letters." Kirkus Reviews
"[The] definitive life of Greene....Greene's many readers will cherish this poignant and detailed concluding volume to a masterful portrait." Booklist (Starred Review)
"For those like myself, enthralled both by Greene's absorbing narratives and their exquisite artistry, Sherry's authorized biography will be the standard account of Greene for the foreseeable future." South Florida Sun-Sentinel
"For anyone interested in Graham Greene's life and work, this three-volume biography is incomparable; as an intellectual and political history of the 20th century it is invaluable; as a literary journey, as well as a journey across the world, it is masterly; as a source book and rogues' gallery it is fascinating." Paul Theroux, The New York Times Book Review
A fascinating portrait of an author as a double agent with a passion for secrecy, deception, and manipulation. (The Washington Post Book World) A compulsively readable, astutely human account. (The New York Times Book Review) The definitive biography... portrays not only the writer himself but the times he lived through in Proustian detail. (Margaret Atwood) A life that seems itself like an engrossing novel, brought to us with sensibility, knowledge and power. (Shirley Hazzard) Rich with fascinating, dramatic detail
Greenes prodigious energies and inspiration are well-matched by Norman Sherrys intelligence, sympathy, and powers of analysis. (Joyce Carol Oates)
Graham Greene was one of the twentieth century's most recognized literary figures yet also one of its most guarded and complex and Norman Sherry's Life of Graham Greene is a landmark achievement. Through unparalleled access to letters, to diaries, and to Greene himself, Norman Sherry has come as close as anyone will to this fascinating individual. In Volume III, he brings his magisterial biography to a close, uncovering little-known aspects of Greene's private life and once again revealing how Greene converted his experiences in remote and dangerous locales into remarkable fiction. Sherry also shows Greene at the height of his literary fame, associating with other well-known writers such as T. S. Eliot, Evelyn Waugh, Ian Fleming, and Noël Coward until Greene's death in 1991. With insight and eloquence, Sherry gets to the heart of Greene, his obsessions, his complicated religious feelings, and his art. Some of his revelations, such as why Greene was denied a Nobel Prize in Literature, will shock many readers.
Wrapping up his acclaimed biography of author Graham Greene, Sherry's first volume won the Edgar Allan Poe Award for best critical/biographical study and was a New York Times Notable Book for 1990. Volume II was chosen as one of the Eleven Best Books of 1995 by The New York Times Book Review.
About the Author
Norman Sherry is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and Mitchell Distinguished Professor of Literature at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. In addition to the first two volumes of The Life of Graham Greene, he is the author of Conrad's Eastern World, Conrad's Western World, Charlotte and Emily Brontë, and Jane Austen.
Review A Day
"Greene's centennial year, just now past, saw the reissue of many of his classics in beautiful new editions from Penguin Books, along with publication of the third and closing volume of Norman Sherry's biography. In an effort to isolate and identify the elusive and evasive figure who could so plausibly be impersonated to lay his ghost, so to speak I set myself to reading it all. I think that what surprised me the most, when I had finished, was his sheer conservatism." Christopher Hitchens, The Atlantic Monthly
(read the entire Atlantic Monthly review