From Dickens to Wilde—literary criticism and personal reflections by a master “unmatched . . . in his uncanny psychological insights” (The New York Times).
Graham Greene shares his love affair with reading in this collection of essays, memories, and critical considerations, both affectionate and tart, “[that] could have come from no other source than the author of Brighton Rock and The Power and the Glory” (The Scotsman).
Whether following the obsessions of Henry James, marveling at the “indispensible” Beatrix Potter, or exploring the Manichean world of Oliver Twist, Graham Greene revisits the books and authors of his lifetime. Here is Greene on Fielding, Doyle, Kipling, and Conrad; on The Prisoner of Zenda and the “revolutionary . . . colossal egoism” of Laurence Stern’s epic comic novel, Tristram Shandy; on the adventures of both Allan Quatermain and Moll Flanders; and more. Greene strolls among the musty oddities and folios sold on the cheap at an outdoor book mart, tells of a bizarre literary hoax perpetrated on a hapless printseller in eighteenth-century Pall Mall, and in the titular essay, reveals the book that unlocked his imagination so thoroughly that he decided to write forever. For Greene, “all the other possible futures slid away.”
In this prismatic gallery of profound influences and guiltless pleasures, Greene proves himself “so intensely alive that the reader cannot but respond to the dazzling combination of intelligence and strong feeling” (Edward Sackville West).