GREENE (GRAHAM) Autograph letter, signed and subscribed ("Affectionately, Graham"), to "Dear Father Martindale", written on the back of three photographs, [Malacca, 17 January 1950]
Lot 223
GREENE (GRAHAM)
Autograph letter, signed and subscribed ("Affectionately, Graham"), to "Dear Father Martindale", written on the back of three photographs, [Malacca, 17 January 1950]
Sold for £1,875 (US$ 2,503) inc. premium

Lot Details
GREENE (GRAHAM)
Autograph letter, signed and subscribed ("Affectionately, Graham"), to "Dear Father Martindale", written on the back of three photographs, the first showing the tomb of the Jesuit second Bishop of Japan at Malacca (as described by Greene in his letter), the others showing the ruined church where the tomb is to be found, most of the letter devoted to a description of "a second spell with the Gurkhas in the worst area of Malay" ("...Yesterday we found a very nasty body – a young Malay stripped naked, stabbed through the heart. We had to hang him on a pole like a piece of meat to take him along for identification at a police post in a very remote tin mine. He turned out to be one of them, & the gloom that fell was awful. The bit of carrion suddenly became a human again. Its a nasty creepy unpleasantness, & I shall be quite glad to go..."); comprising four photographs in all, 3 pages, slightly scuffed, each 118mm. square, [Malacca, 17 January 1950]

Footnotes

  • 'THE BIT OF CARRION SUDDENLY BECAME HUMAN AGAIN' – Graham Greene, writes to his Jesuit mentor Father Martindale during the Malayan Emergency. This incident is recorded in Greene's diary on 15 January 1951, and was (as Norman Sherry has pointed out) to be recycled in The Quiet American, where Fowler the hero muses: 'I turned my memories at random like pictures from an album... the body of a bayoneted Malay which a Gurkha patrol had brought at the back of a lorry into a mining camp in Pahang, and the Chinese coolies stood by and giggled with nerves, while a brother Malay put a cushion under the dead head' (p.80).

    Father Cyril Martindale S.J. played an important part in Greene's life in the late 1940s and early 50s, especially during the separation from his wife Vivien and the affair with Catherine Walston. It is widely believed that he acted as confessor to both parties; and was instrumental in persuading Vivien not to divorce Greene, on the grounds that he was essentially a good man even if encumbered by husks of wickedness. Seven letters to him by Greene are housed with the papers of his protégé and biographer Father Caraman S.J. at the Burns Library, Boston College.

Saleroom notices

  • The date of this letter should read 1951, not 1950 as stated in the catalogue.
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