When friends die, one's own credentials change: one becomes a survivor. Graham Greene has already had biographers, one of whom has served him mightily. Yet I hope that there is room for the remembrance of a friend who knew him - not wisely, perhaps, but fairly well - on an island that was "not his kind of place," but where he came season after season, year after year & where he, too, will be subsumed into the capacious story.' For millennia the cliffs of Capri have sheltered pleasure-seekers & refugees alike, among them the emperors Augustus & Tiberius, Henry James, Rilke & Lenin, plus hosts of artists, eccentrics & outcasts. Here in the 1960s Graham Greene became friends with Shirley Hazzard & her husband, the writer Francis Steegmuller; their friendship lasted until Greene's death in 1991. In GREENE ON CAPRI, Hazzard uses their ever volatile intimacy as a prism through which to illuminate Greene's mercurial character, his work & talk & the extraordinary literary culture that long thrived on this ravishing, enchanted island.
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(197mm x 132mm x 12mm)
Virago Press Ltd
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Country of Publication:
UK Kirkus Review »
A beautifully written, economical book that manages to convey both Graham Greene the man and the author. Hazzard knew him for many years, not intimately but regularly. They became friends in the 1960's when she interrupted a conversation he was having in a cafe in the piazetti of Capri (Greene was struggling to remember the last line of a Browning poem, which Hazzard supplied). She tells the story of their friendship (which lasted until Greene's death in 1991) with disarming honesty: they often disagreed and she was never starry eyed about Greene's many faults. She clearly had great respect for his work and remains both loyal and discreet. Referring to his numerous affairs she neither judges nor indulges. In her sensitive reading of his works she is particularly amusing about Greene's ambivalent attitude towards his emancipated female characters, fictitious and real, who were never really expected to 'do' anything. She also conveys a sense of the wide range of literary interests Greene managed to sustain while writing his own fiction. As a director of Bodley Head he was an ardent promoter of new talent. There are no salacious details or gossipy speculations in the pages of this memoir which fulfills its purpose admirably, to capture something of what it was like to pass time with Graham Greene. Hazzard understood, as one writer would understand another, that despite all the passionate affairs, the devastating depressions and elated highs, Greene's greatest pleasure in life was literature and it was too literature that he always returned. 'It seemed time, too, that a woman should write of Graham Greene' she says. And with this memoir she is proved right. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Shirley Hazzard
Shirley Hazzard has worked in Hong Kong, then New Zealand in the High Commissioner's Office. In 1951 she moved to New York where she worked for the UN. She is the recepient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, an American Academy Award and the O. Henry Short Story Award.