Greene’s Norwegian Friend

It seems extraordinary that after twenty years of the Graham Greene International Festival there are still unexplored areas of Greene’s life and work to be revealed. It is the case this year. Johanne Elster Hanson will present, ‘Scandinavians are Terribly Scandinavian: Graham Greene’s Friendship with Norwegian writer Nordhal Grieg‘. The talk will be introduced by Ian Thomson, author of Articles of Faith: The Collected Journalism of Graham Greene. Grieg was a poet, novelist, dramatist, journalist and political activist. He shared attributes with Greene, being a popular yet controversial public figure.

In 2001 Patrick Salmon spoke on Graham Greene’s Scandinavian Lives. However, Johanne’s presentation will concentrate on Grieg’s own biography and his complex relationship with England.

In 1944, Greene paid a deeply affectionate tribute to Grieg, following the latter’s death while on a bombing mission over Berlin the previous year, in an article in Norseman II. A fuller version of this eulogy appears in the second volume of Greene’s autobiography, Ways of Escape . He wrote, ‘I was unable to read his books – for only one had been translated into English (in any case his poetry would have been untranslatable), and therefore he struck me less as a fellow author with whom one must talk shop, than as a friend one had grown up with, to whom one talked and with whom one argued about anything in the world’.