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.”

W H Auden: "But in my arms till break of day / Let the living creature lie. / Mortal, guilty, but to me/ The entirely beautiful."

Will Self: “To attempt to write seriously is always, I feel, to fail – the disjunction between my beautifully sonorous, accurate and painfully affecting mental content, and the leaden, halting sentences on the page always seems a dreadful falling short. It is this failure – a ceaseless threnody keening through the writing mind – that dominates my working life, just as an overweening sense of not having loved with enough depth or recklessness or tenderness dominates my personal one.”

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."

Art Spiegelman: "You know words in a way are hitting you on the left side of your brain, music and visual arts hit on the right side of the brain, so the idea is to pummel you, to send you from left brain to right brain and back until you're as unbalanced as I am."

विलास सारंग: "संदर्भ कुठलेही असोत, संस्कृत, इंग्रजी, बुद्धिवादी, तांत्रिक, इतिहासाचे, खगोलशास्त्राचे, आधुनिक पदार्थविज्ञानाचे, शिवकालीन व पेशवाईतील बखरीचे, अगणित ज्ञानक्षेत्रांचे, अशा वैविध्यपूर्ण ज्ञानावर लेखन- विशेषत: कवितालेखन- उभं राहत."

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