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

From: Nathan Cain (
Date: 05 Nov 2007

I going to have to say that I'm confused about Brighton Rock being labeled an "entertainment" since it dealt with some pretty weighty themes. I'm really not sure what Greene meant by his use of that term, because it implies that the works he considered serious were not meant to be entertaining. Maybe it was the Catholic in him, trying to separate the earthly from the spiritual, or something like that. Perhaps there was a conviction that fun things shouldn't be serious and serious things can't possibly be fun.

On 11/5/07, <> wrote:
> "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.
> Join my Church:
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 05 Nov 2007 EST