Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: The definition of literature

Date: 05 Nov 2007

"I find a special intensity in his writing, regardless of topic. Greene may be much undervalued, still, by the literary establishment."

Greene's interesting in terms of this discussion isn't he, in that he did split his works into the 'entertainments' and serious literature and the entertainments tend to be the works that come under Rara Avis's large and flexible umbrella. I used to be quite annoyed with Greene for doing this (a particularly stupid and pointless rage I'll freely admit - I think I was annoyed he didn't consider Brighton Rock serious when I did!) and I've just been having a quick flick through the Norman Sherry biography (though I only have the first volume, to 1939, here) to see if I can find anything on this division, which I can't, beyond a brief snippet that Brighton Rock was intended as a thriller and "an entertainment" - I'd be grateful if anyone does know.

I think Greene is magnificent and love his 'entertainments' probably more than his 'serious' works, particularly Brighton Rock, Our Man in Havana and A Gun For Sale, I think you'll love Ministry of Fear: an entertainment, too
(what a magnificent title) and it is certainly noir - although Graham Greene makes me think of a particularly English greyness. I've never seen the Fritz Lang film, but scan the TV schedules for a showing.

Is he undervalued? I hope not and in my brief searchings I've just found Stamboul Train has been voted as the best novel of 1932 by a panel at the Cheltenham Literary Festival (Britain's biggest) given the odd task of awarding Booker prizes for pre-Booker years or something similar.
  I've always thought of Chandler being similar in sensibility to Greene and vice versa, but just found this quote from Big Uncle Raymond:
"Am reading The Heart of the Matter, a chapter at a time. It has everything in it that makes literature -- except verve, wit, gusto, music, and magic... There is more life in the worst chapter Dickens or Thackeray ever wrote, and they wrote some pretty awful chapters."

Cheers all, Colin.

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