He also served as an MI6 agent for a while: Who is Graham Greene?

The Author Who Made Russian Roulette a Habit: The author, known for his espionage novels and controversial political works, was among the authors of the 20th century with his political novels, each of which asked big moral questions. It's time to get to know the famous author, whose name is often mentioned with the Nobel Prize in Literature.

By David Foster Published on 2 Nisan 2024 : 14:35.
He also served as an MI6 agent for a while: Who is Graham Greene?

The author, who was born in Berkhamsted, England, in 1904, left behind countless works from the late 1920s until his death in 1991.

Henry Graham Greene (b. 2 October 1904 - d. 3 April 1991) was an English short story and novel writer. Most of his works deal with the complex moral and political problems of the modern world.

Except for his novel England Made Me, which he wrote in 1935, Catholic themes somehow find a place in almost all of his novels. The four novels in which these themes are most prevalent are Brighton Rock, The Power and the Glory, The Heart of the Matter and The End of the Affair.

Henry Graham Greene OM CH (2 October 1904 – 3 April 1991) was an English writer and journalist regarded by many as one of the leading novelists of the 20th century.

Greene, who also served as an MI6 agent for a while, wrote many novels about international politics and espionage activities, especially after writing The Silent American of 1955. The most important of these are Our Man in Havana, which is set in Havana, The Comedians, which is about the Duvalier dictatorship in Haiti, The Honorary Consul, which is set in Argentina, and The Human Factor, which is on the Soviet Union - South Africa axis.

He produced works in many different genres, from Brighton Rock, which exposes the evil of humanity, to Our Man in Havana, which is as good as the masters of satire. He opened a new page in English prose by introducing moral and philosophical dilemmas into espionage novels, which are a genre with clear themes and boundaries and where the reader knows what he will get when he picks up the book.

Now let's take a look at 5 interesting events in Graham Greene's life and their impact on his writings.

1. He was very bad at school

The principal of the boarding school where the author spent his youth was also the author's father. Added to the fact that he was introverted and incompatible with his peers, his student life was unhappy and full of suicide attempts. Drinking lecture chemicals and jumping into the pool after taking handfuls of Aspirin are just two of the author's known suicide attempts.

After unsuccessful attempts, Greene found the solution by running away from school and his family at the age of 16. The family who caught the fugitive sent the rebellious young man to a psychoanalyst. Greene says that the 6-month period he spent in London was one of the best periods of his life. His suicidal tendencies were still not over. A few years later, after a relationship ended badly, he started playing Russian roulette on a regular basis.

2. He Had Trouble with Shirley Temple and Hollywood

Although Greene continued his career as a novelist in the '30s, he also sometimes sent film reviews to newspapers. His 1937 Wee Willie Winkie review for Night and Day magazine put both the author and the magazine in a difficult spot. Greene says the following about child actress Shirley Temple's fans:

“Her admirers, middle-aged men and clergy, can only so openly sympathize with Temple's desirable petite body and undisguised flirtatiousness because the story and dialogue draw a curtain between their intelligence and their desires.”

Of course, the company did not like this ridicule that Greene directed at the then 9-year-old Temple, her fans, and mainly the production company 20th Century Fox, and the issue was taken to court. The magazine was fined 3,500 pounds, but Greene, who was in Mexico at the time of the hearing, could not be tried.

3. South American Dictators Didn't Adore Graham Greene, Too

Greene's tales of politics and espionage were never popular in the countries where the novels were set. Fidel Castro did not like Our Man in Havana at all and thinks that it does not accurately reflect how oppressive Fulgencio Batista, who ruled the country before him, was.

Castro's ruminative complaints are nothing compared to Francois Duvalier's reaction to The Comedians. Greene's 1966 novel criticized the despotism established by Duvalier in Haiti and the cruelty of the special police force, Tonton Macoute.

Duvalier was not pleased that the situation in Haiti was brought up by such a well-known author, and he launched a smear campaign against the author.

4. He Lived Among Real Spies

Greene's novels take place in many different parts of the world, from Cuba to Haiti, from Vietnam to Africa. Greene's reputation as a strict journalist and novelist made it easier for him to enter and exit many countries.

Recruited by the UK's secret agency MI6 during World War II, the author worked for intelligence in Sierra Leone. This collaboration provided the British government with information and Greene with materials to use in his novel The Heart of the Matter.

The person from whom Greene received his orders at MI6 was Kim Philby, who was also his close friend. Greene's experience becomes even more interesting because Philby was a double agent who leaked information to the Soviets for nearly 30 years.

5. Graham Greene Wasn't Born a Catholic

Greene preferred to describe himself as a "writer on Catholic themes" rather than a "Catholic writer". However, he is one of the first names that come to mind when readers think of a Catholic writer. His most successful works, such as The End of the Affair, Brighton Rock and The Heart of the Matter, are stories that always include Catholicism as the main theme.

The strange thing is that the author did not grow up in a Catholic family. He changed his sect at the age of 21. There is a woman's hand in the incident. Greene changed his religion after meeting his future wife and poet Vivien Dayrell-Browning in 1926. In 1947, he left his wife and two children and started living with another woman. However, since the Catholic church does not allow divorces, they continued to appear married on paper until the author's death in 1991.