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Bernard Bergonzi has been reading Graham Greene for many years; he still possesses the original edition of The End of the Affair that he bought when it was published in 1951. After so much recent attention to Greene's life he believes it is time to return to his writings; in this critical study Bergonzi makes a close examination of the language and structure of Greene's novels, and traces the obsessive motifs that recur throughout his long career. Most earlier criticism was written while Greene was still alive and working, and was to some extent provisional, as the final shape of his work was not yet apparent. In this book Bergonzi is able to take a view of Greene's whole career as a novelist, which extended from 1929 to 1988. He believes that Greene's earlier work was his best, combining melodrama, realism, and poetry, with Brighton Rock, published in 1938, a moral fable that draws on crime fiction and Jacobean tragedy, as the masterpiece. The novels that Greene published after the 1950s were very professional examples of skilful story-telling but represented a decline from this high level of achievement. Bergonzi challenges assumptions about the nature of Greene's debt to cinema, and attempts to clarify the complexities and contradictions of his religious ideas. Although this book engages with questions that arise in academic discussions of Greene, it is written with general readers in mind.
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Bernard Bergonzi is Emeritus Professor of English at the Warwick. His previous books include Exploding English: Criticism, Theory, Culture, Wartime and Aftermath: English Literature and its Background 1939-1960, and A Victorian Wanderer: The Life of Thomas Arnold the Younger (all OUP).
Crisply written and happily free of jargon,A Study in Green offers a long-needed antidote to Norman Sherry and other 'Dirty Linen' biographers who have sought to expose a darker shade of Greene and, in consequence, lost sight of the books. Not everyone will agree with Professor Bergonzi's argument, but his book is well worth reading. * Ian Thompson, Spectator * An impressive and provocative book * Literary Review * Any reader who wants a lucid, concise, elegantly written survey of the novels could not do better than turn to A Study in Greene. * David Lodge, The Tablet * The book is measured, civilized, sympathetic to its subject - as Bergonzi's criticism usually is. It is not adulatory; some rather harsh statements are made; but Bergonzi bases his opinion on reasonable premises and makes no intemperate judgements. * US Weekly Standard * In his introduction, Bernard Bergonzi comments that 'readers should be warned that this is a work of old-fashioned criticism'. Far from being a literary Health Warning, this may serve as a positive recommendation to many... like all good criticism, it will send you scurrying back to the novels. * Newsletter of the Graham Greene Birthplace Trust * ... gives the reader not only some new highlights into Greene's fiction, but encourages one to go back and read some of it again. * Camden New Journal * Bergonzi... is to be congratulated for two reasons in particular: first, in refocusing the public eye on Greene's work as apposed to his private private life (he makes it clear, in acidic little asides, that he is no fan of Greene's biographers) and, second, in having the courage to re-imagine this body of work in a way rather different to the currently accepted view. * Catholic Herald *
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