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Articles of Faith

When Graham Greene died in 1991, at the age of 86, his reputation as a great Catholic writer was assured. His books reflected an awareness of sin and confronted discomfiting themes with a sombre eye. The British Catholic journal The Tablet provided Greene with a forum for both his works-in-progress and his sometimes unorthodox religious views. Greene was always drawn to tales of martyrdom, and in 1930s Mexico he found the most pitiless clamp-down on Roman Catholicism anywhere since the Reformation. Greene's Mexico reportage was first published in The Tablet. The controlled understatement and scrupulous, unsparing lucidity of Greene's journalism is still impressive, as it unforgettably portrays the aftermath of the anti-religious revolution begun by President Calles. Included here are four Mexico despatches, "Mexican Sunday", "A Catholic Adventurer and his Mexican Journal", "In Search of a Miracle" and "The Dark Virgin". Articles of Faith also includes a long essay on the Assumption, "Our Lady and Her Assumption: The Only Figure of Perfect Love", written for The Tablet in 1951. Also included are 26 book reviews which the novelist wrote for The Tablet's "Fiction Chronicle" column. Always broad-minded, Greene praised the work of the anti-Fascist Italian novelist Ignazio Silone and a science fiction by the Czech author Karel Capek: "I have no room to do more than warmly recommend Mr Capek's fantasy of a world conquered by newts." Among the other authors whom Greene reviewed are Thomas Mann, John Dos Passos, Djuna Barns, Stevie Smith, William Gerhardi, Erich Kastner and Somerset Maugham. For the first time, Graham Greene's Tablet contributions are collected in one volume. Much of the journalism has not been seen for fifty years. The book includes an essay, "Two Friends", documenting the story of Greene's friendship with a Catholic diplomat and fellow devotee of Henry James, Peter Leslie. The Greene-Leslie correspondence has not been seen before.
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About the Author

Graham Greene (1902-1991) was among the most eminent of British twentieth-century writers, the author of over thirty novels and entertainments as well as many travel books, essays and reviews. Ian Thomson is the author of the acclaimed Bonjour Blanc: A Journey through Haiti (1992) and a biography of Primo Levi, which won the 2002 W. H. Heinemann Prize.


Students of the author's paradoxical religious inclinations - he was an agnostic who went to Mass - will find much to ponder here, while Greene completists won't want to be without this fine nosegay of hard-to-find occasional journalism, a unique context in which to encounter the celebrated left-footer writing left-handed. The Observer Articles of Faith offers fascinating sidelights on Greene's shifting attitudes to the Church into which he was received in 1926. His earliest contributions were entirely literary: on eight occasions between October 1937 and March 1938 he reviewed new novels in clutches of four or five titles. Greene himself was not yet identified as a Catholic writer, and only a few remarks in these reviews reveal his religious preoccupations - when for instance he describes Djuna Barnes' Nightwood as "an exaggerated reaction against the world by someone who has been bitten by faith, but faith gone wild and dangerous with despair". Soon afterwards he published Brighton Rock, a work to which the same words might be applied; and he went on to write three more novels with an explicitly Catholic theological content, culminating in The End of the Affair (1951); books that made him the most celebrated English literary novelist of his generation. David Lodge, The Tablet For Graham Greene fans, Ian Thomson has edited Articles of Faith (Signal GBP12.99), Greene's Tablet journalism, and written a sympathetic, informed introduction. Ronan Bennett, Observer Books of the Year, 2006

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