Divided Loyalties

Graham Greene died this year at 86, a ripe old age that was no small accomplishment for a man who at 19 played Russian roulette on the Berkhamsted common until he grew bored with even the possibility of his own death. As a "semilapsed" Catholic who professed belief (though not certainty) in purgatory but not hell, perhaps his passing was an easy one. One wishes at least so much for one of the great writers in English of this century.

Celebrated authors no longer cease publishing on their deaths and it seems likely that Judith Adamson's volume of Greene's previously uncollected newspaper work, reviews, and addresses will not be his final book. But—some stillborn novels aside—with his major essays and travel pieces having been collected elsewhere, and now this book of miscellany, there cannot be much left. It is testimony to Greene's talent that this volume is valuable in itself, and not just to round out a famous literary life.

Reflections begins with a short "Impressions of Ireland," done when Greene was 19 and on vacation in Dublin and Waterford; what is striking is how nicely the piece is written and how little in Ireland's politics has been resolved. The book ends, almost, and fittingly enough, with an address Greene made in Moscow in 1987, expressing his wish for an alliance between Roman Catholicism and communism. His was a political life, what with his friendship...

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