The Lost Childhood


by Graham Greene. Viking,
A collection of essays — mostly literary criticism and literary portraits. In some cases the subjects are of specialized interest. but most cases it makes little difference whether the subject is specialized or not — what this book offers us is Graham Greene: his roving thought; his fierce integrity; his obsession with the idea of Evil; and, not least, his superb command of English. The most notable feature is. from the literary standpoint, the five pieces on Henry James, in which Greene develops the thesis that James’s ruling fantasy was “a sense of evil, religious in its intensity,” and argues, in effect., that James was a Catholic novelist manqué.
In an autobiographical piece, Greene tells how. as an adolescent, boredom drove him to put a revolver, with one of its six chambers loaded, to his head and press the trigger. After surviving this thrill six times, he got bored with it.