Slightly Foxed (U.K.), 2022. Hardcover. Item #99
Graham Greene once said that writing A Sort of Life, this memoir of his early years, ‘was in the nature of a psychoanalysis. I made a long journey through time and I was one of my characters.’ Certainly the younger self that emerges is as complex and intriguing as any of those he created in his novels. Greene grew up in Berkhamsted among a large colony of Greenes, and attended Berkhamsted School, where his father was headmaster. As it turned out, the conflicting loyalties this produced, combined with the secrecy and subterfuge encouraged by the school’s puritanical regime, were the perfect grounding for the spy – and the novelist – he was to become. But the price was high. By the time he was out of his teens he had had what would now be called a nervous breakdown, undergone psychoanalysis – unusual for the 1920s – and become addicted to playing Russian roulette with his brother’s revolver. A Sort of Life takes him through Oxford, the early years of marriage and his conversion to Catholicism, to the point where he recklessly gives up his first Fleet Street job as a sub-editor on The Times in order to write full-time. But what marked Graham Greene out above all else was his utter determination to pursue his craft. There can be no more fascinating or illuminating account of what it takes to become a writer.
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