The Life of Graham Greene, Volume III: 1955-1991 by Norman Sherry - review by Simon Heffer

Simon Heffer

The End of the Affair

The Life of Graham Greene, Volume III: 1955-1991


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This is the third, and last, volume of Norman Sherry's authorised life of a man reputed to have been England's finest novelist of the twentieth century. The first volume appeared in 1989; the second in 1994. The similarities of tone and approach between this long-awaited conclusion and its forerunners are as striking as the differences. Sherry is still thorough and perceptive, and has a deep rapport with his subject. He is also frequently emotional, censorious (notably over Greene's admittedly often absurd political posturing) and solipsistic, sometimes to the point of indiscipline. Yet this volume completes one of the great modern works of literary biography, a life to compete, in its way, with George Painter's breath-taking work on Marcel Proust, or Michael Holroyd's Bernard Shaw.

Sherry resumes the story in 1955, though one of the immediate distinctions from the earlier books is that the narrative becomes more thematic and less chronological. This can, at times, be exacting and puzzling for the reader. In 1955 Greene is fifty-one, obsessively travelling around the world looking - literally

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