Another Literary Anniversary

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Graham Greene’s death in 1991. There have been several events associated with this anniversary. Perhaps the most ambitious is the BBC’s undertaking to adapt four of Greene’s novels for radio presentations. The most recent is The Power and the Glory which was presented in a two-part dramatization on BBC Radio 4 earlier this month and is still available on BBC iPlayer over the internet. Critic D J Taylor in the latest issue of The Tablet makes a comparison of that work to Waugh’s contemporaneous Robbery Under Law:

Lady Diana Cooper, who took a keen interest in both men, once remarked that whereas Evelyn Waugh was “a bad man for whom an angel was struggling”, his fellow Catholic convert Graham Greene was “a good man possessed of a devil”.

While Waugh’s visit to late-1930s Mexico produced a deeply conservative political tract (Robbery Under Law, 1939), his friend returned with the material for a novel. Yet, as Nick Warburton’s superlative two-part adaptation of The Power and the Glory [19 and 26 June] demonstrated in spades, Greene’s fiction turns out to be quite as polemical as Waugh’s bitter travelogue.

The other radio adaptations include The Honorary Consul which was transmitted in January-February and Monsignor Quixote and The Confidential Agent which will appear later this year.

The Graham Greene Birthplace Trust has meanwhile announced the program for its 2016 “International Festival” to be held in Berkhamsted, Herts., in September. Although none of the presentations described in the program specifically mentions Waugh, Roy Hattersley is speaking on 23 September on the subject of “The Catholic Muse” which is about British Catholic writers, and Waugh will surely come up in that discussion. That was the same topic chosen by Waugh for his 1949 lecture tour at various U S Catholic colleges and universities, and Greene was one of the three British writers he discussed. The others were G K Chesterton and Ronald Knox. Also appearing on the same day as Hattersley is Carlos Villar Flor, well known to Waugh scholars and co-author of the recent book In the Picture about Waugh’s wartime career. His topic is Greene’s “quixotic” holiday travels.

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