G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

H. P. Lovecraft: "What a man does for pay is of little significance. What he is, as a sensitive instrument responsive to the world's beauty, is everything!"

Martin Amis: “Gogol is funny, Tolstoy in his merciless clarity is funny, and Dostoyevsky, funnily enough, is very funny indeed; moreover, the final generation of Russian literature, before it was destroyed by Lenin and Stalin, remained emphatically comic — Bunin, Bely, Bulgakov, Zamyatin. The novel is comic because life is comic (until the inevitable tragedy of the fifth act);...”

Werner Herzog: “We are surrounded by worn-out, banal, useless and exhausted images, limping and dragging themselves behind the rest of our cultural evolution.”

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Justin E.H. Smith: “One should of course take seriously serious efforts to improve society. But when these efforts fail, in whole or in part, it is only humor that offers redemption. So far, human expectations have always been strained, and have always come, give or take a bit, to nothing. In this respect reality itself has the form of a joke, and humor the force of truth.”

विलास सारंग: "… . . 1000 नंतर ज्या प्रकारची संस्कृती रुढ झाली , त्यामध्ये साधारणत्व विश्वात्मकता हे गुण प्राय: लुप्त झाले...आपली संस्कृती अकाली विश्वात्मक साधारणतेला मुकली आहे."

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Graham Greene Wanted Tickets to “A Massacre in the Punjab”

Greene is my favourite author. I have really liked some of his books: The Honorary Consul, Doctor Fischer of Geneva or The Bomb Party, The Quiet American, Travels with My Aunt, The End of the Affair, The Other Man.

Greene was a complex character. Paul Theroux says:"...Greene was insecure, needy, insatiable, interested in variation and always willing to have a go...this compulsive sexuality seemed to shape the pattern of his life, his travel, his fictional subjects and his faith. Obsessive and easily bored, he was incapable of being sexually faithful to any woman. He reveled in being a wanderer, an eavesdropper, a stranger. His sexuality both depressed him and relieved his gloom. It damned him in his own faith, made him a sinner and filled him with remorse, made him say things such as ''I've been a bloody fool'' and ''I've betrayed very many people in my life'' and ''I wish I didn't have so much to be remorseful about.''..." (NYT, October 17, 2004)

India hardly figures in his books. On Jan 4 2009, I learnt why.

Pankaj Mishra has reviewed “GRAHAM GREENE/ A Life in Letters /By Edited by Richard Greene” (NYT Jan 4, 2009)Mishra writes:

“…In August 1947, a few months into an affair with Catherine Walston, the American wife of a Labor M.P., Greene planned a trip with her to India, which was then in the midst of a bloodbath set off by the British decision to divide the country along religious lines. “If we get to India,” he wrote to Walston, with whom he had recently taken a more sedate holiday in Ireland, “it will be odd — the exciting thing in exciting company. I have a feeling that even being in a massacre in the Punjab (I enclose a good account of one) won’t really be as exciting as sitting on a cliff watching for salmon.”

This assignation in the midst of mass murder didn’t come off. Richard Greene (no relation), the editor of this volume, gives no explanation. In any case, salmon-spotting was not Greene’s thing…

...“When we are young,” Fowler says in “The Quiet American,” “we are a jungle of complications. We simplify as we get older.” This was certainly true of Greene, whose letters in later life show him becoming a first-class tourist to revolutions: “Now I’m off to Nicaragua (as the guest of the Sandinista government) to light a small fire under the fool Reagan.” Though covering a vast period of personal and public turmoil, “Graham Greene: A Life in Letters” traces, quite astonishingly, no refining of sensibility and intelligence. The increasingly exotic settings merely underscore how the mind of this most famous of Englishmen abroad was fundamentally never really broadened — and may have been narrowed — by travel.

If they were just dogs getting slaughtered in the ring, Greene wasn’t interested!

The New Yorker