- Expected Apr 21, 2020
A collection of short stories, journalism pieces, and miscellaneous writings by the esteemed English novelist Henry Green. Accompanied by a biographical afterword by the author's son, this book offers an invaluable glimpse into the life of a singular, mysterious, and thoroughly brilliant twentieth-century writer.
“At its highest pitch,” John Updike writes in his introduction to Surviving, “Green’s writing brings the rectangle of printed page alive like little else in English fiction this century—a superbly rendered surface above a trembling depth, alive not only with the reflections of reality but with the consolations of art.” Though fellow writers from W.H. Auden to Eudora Welty have lionized his brilliant, original, often hugely funny novels, Henry Green remains one of the great literary secrets of our time.
Surviving, which gathers a selection of Green’s writings, features a number of remarkable stories from the 1920s and 1930s; an account of Green’s service in the London Fire Brigade during the Blitz; a short, unpublished play, Journey Out of Spain; a selection of Green’s journalism; and a hilarious interview by Terry Southern for The Paris Review. Edited by the novelist Matthew Yorke, Green’s grandson, Surviving also includes a biographical afterword by Green’s son, Sebastian Yorke, a brilliant portrait of a writer of true genius.
Under the pseudonym Henry Green, businessman Henry V. Yorke (1905-1973) wrote 10 distinguished Symbolist novels in the period from 1926 to 1952. (In February Penguin will reissue six of them, including his major work, Loving , in its Twentieth-Century Classics series.) Green's strength was to cluster seeming trivia in image patterns redolent with meaning; and in Doting and Concluding , he treated sex in uncommonly modern and matter-of-fact terms. For the current volume, Green's grandson has assembled published, unpublished and rejected pieces; synopses and drafts of embryonic work; reviews, and polished jottings. Green's unfinished Mood recalls the world of Virginia Woolf, and there is a review of Woolf's Writer's Diary . In ``Excursion'' he creates a microcosmic knot of people at a train station, anticipating his novel Party Going. Pieces on the art of fiction include a two-part BBC talk, ``A Novelist to His Readers,'' which reveals the importance Green placed on dialogue. Essays about the fire squad on which Green served in the WW II blitz (``A Rescue,'' ``Before the Great Fire'') parallel the topic of his novel Caught. His work for American magazines include ``Falling in Love,'' written for Esquire (he was aggrieved not to be paid for it) and ``Invocation to Venice'' for Vogue . Among the rejects are a TV drama ``Journey Out of Spain'' (too long, they said), and ``The Jealous Man,'' turned down by New Yorker editors who promised to keep in mind Green's interest in ``books by dead authors.'' The collection sheds light on the publishing scene in Green's day and adeptly serves the cause of English letters. A memoir by his son closes the volume.