Magazine March 22, 2021, Issue

Graham Greene: The Middlebrow Genius

The grave of Graham Greene (Emmet1911/Wikimedia)
The Unquiet Englishman: A Life of Graham Greene, by Richard Greene (Norton, 608 pp., $40)

Sixty years ago, Graham Greene was widely regarded as an important novelist, perhaps even a great one, both in England and in America. His critical admirers included V. S. Pritchett, John Updike, and his close friend Evelyn Waugh, who called him a writer of “the highest imaginative power.” He was also very popular, in part because several of his books, most notably Brighton Rock (1938), The Third Man (1949), and Our Man in Havana (1958), were turned into successful films, often with his direct involvement (he was one of the first writers of stature to take a close interest in the screen). Moreover, the fact

This article appears as “The Middlebrow Genius” in the March 22, 2021, print edition of National Review.

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Terry TeachoutMr. Teachout is the drama critic of the Wall Street Journal and the critic-at-large of Commentary. Satchmo at the Waldorf, his 2011 play about Louis Armstrong, has been produced off Broadway and throughout America.

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