Tag: Graham Greene

Pico Iyer Can’t Get Graham Greene Out of his Head

In the Los Angeles Review of Books, World Hum contributor Pico Iyer writes about a string of odd coincidences, eerie overlaps and echoes between Graham Greene’s writing and traveling life and his own. Iyer writes:

Not long thereafter, I began working on a book on the 14th Dalai Lama, and as I was sitting in Hiroshima one fall afternoon, listening to one of his general addresses, I realized that the perfect way of summarizing his teachings—for non-Buddhists at least—was by quoting Hamlet: “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” A little later, I was staying in a convent on the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem and, needing something to read, picked up a book from the library shelves. It was Greene’s late novel Monsignor Quixote, and when I turned to the title page, there was an epigraph, from Hamlet: “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

On and on this went… Perhaps—a skeptic might have said—these were no more than surface coincidences; but when there are so many correspondences, across such a wide canvas, you start to imagine that they might speak for connections of a deeper kind.

So often these days we read of travelers taking off “in the footsteps” of Marco Polo or Genghis Khan or many another distinguished forebear, even Graham Greene. But in this case, I didn’t feel I had to pursue Greene, because he was so busy pursuing me.

Iyer’s latest book, The Man Within My Head, was released last week. It explores his strange relationship with Graham Greene in depth, and The Globe and Mail’s Ronald Wright describes it, in a thoughtful review, as “biography, memoir, travelogue, literary criticism and personal meditation.” I can’t wait to check it out.

(Via @iainmanley)

Meet the Traveler Who Saved Graham Greene’s Life

In the Telegraph, Tim Butcher tells the little-known story of Barbara Greene, a cousin of the well-traveled author—and, apparently, his savior on a 1935 trip through Sierra Leone and Liberia. Here’s Butcher:

At the off, the adventure was the property of Graham Greene. He made all the arrangements and took all the decisions, hiring a team of 24 bearers, three servants and a cook. A child of the late Edwardian era, Barbara Greene was happy to go along with this.

But after crossing into Liberia and beginning the trek, a reversal took place. Graham fell ill, dangerously ill, while Barbara got stronger and stronger. They had various adventures and almost lost each other in the thick forest, but the key moment came about three weeks into the walk when his illness worsened dramatically and he lost consciousness.

“Graham would die,’’ she later wrote. “I never doubted it for a minute. He looked like a dead man already ... I was incapable of feeling anything. I worked out quietly how I would have my cousin buried, how I would go down to the coast, to whom I would send telegrams.’‘

Calmly Barbara Greene took over responsibility for the trip, settling on the route, arranging food and motivating the bearers. Having completed the same trek last year for my book, staying in the same villages and enduring the same climate, I am in awe of her achievement. And I am in no doubt that she saved her cousin’s life.

(Via The Book Bench)

R.I.P. Cafe Royal

The iconic London cafe closed this weekend after 143 years. Oscar Wilde, Winston Churchill and Graham Greene were among its many fans. (Via The Book Bench)

Subcontinental Homesick Blues

From a balcony in Sri Lanka, surrounded by AK-47-toting soldiers, Anthony Bourdain reveals why music can make a travel moment

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Six Degrees of Vietnam

Julia Ross went to Vietnam seeking relaxation and a place to recover from a breakup. She found a whole lot more.

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