Travels with My AuntPaperback Vintage Books
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- Publisher: Vintage Classics
- Format: Paperback | 272 pages
- Dimensions: 116mm x 196mm x 20mm | 220g
- Publication date: 13 June 2000
- Publication City/Country: London
- ISBN 10: 0099282585
- ISBN 13: 9780099282587
- Sales rank: 18,516
Henry Pulling, a retired bank manager, meets his septuagenarian Aunt Augusta for the first time in over fifty years at what he supposes to be his mother's funeral. Soon after, she persuades Henry to abandon Southwood, his dahlias and the Major next door to travel her way, Brighton, Paris, Istanbul, Paraguay. Through Aunt Augusta, a veteran of Europe's hotel bedrooms, Henry joins a shiftless, twilight society: mixing with hippies, war criminals, CIA men; smoking pot, breaking all the currency regulations and eventually coming alive after a dull suburban life. In Travels with my Aunt Graham Greene not only gives us intoxicating entertainment but also confronts us with some of the most perplexing of human dilemmas.
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Graham Greene was born in 1904. On coming down from Balliol College, Oxford, he worked for four years as sub-editor on The Times. He established his reputation with his fourth novel, Stamboul Train. In 1935 he made a journey across Liberia, described in Journey Without Maps, and on his return was appointed film critic of the Spectator. In 1926 he had been received into the Roman Catholic Church and visited Mexico in 1938 to report on the religious persecution there. As a result he wrote The Lawless Roads and, later, his famous novel The Power and the Glory. Brighton Rock was published in 1938 and in 1940 he became literary editor of the Spectator. The next year he undertook work for the Foreign Office and was stationed in Sierra Leone from 1941 to 1943. This later produced the novel The Heart of the Matter, set in West Africa. As well as his many novels, Graham Greene wrote several collections of short stories, four travel books, six plays, three books of autobiography - A Sort of Life, Ways of Escape and A World of My Own (published posthumously) - two of biography and four books for children. He also contributed hundreds of essays, and film and book reviews, some of which appear in the collections Reflections and Mornings in the Dark. Many of his novels and short stories have been filmed and The Third Man was written as a film treatment. Graham Greene was a member of the Order of Merit and a Companion of Honour. He died in April 1991.
"Rich in exactly etched and moving portraits of real human beings...the tragic and comic ironies of love, loyalty and belief" The Times "The most ingenious, inventive and exciting of our novelists - V S Pritchett, The Times" "Funny and bizarre... This is a Greene with the lightest touches" -- Susan Hill The Lady "No serious writer of [the twentith century] has more thoroughly invaded and shaped the public imagination than Graham Greene - Time "
Greene's first novel since The Comedians is much more insistently comic in tone which is perhaps why it doesn't work as well unless you've got a taste for antic haywire farce cum tour de force. The latter elements primarily inspired by Aunt Augusta, one of those outlandish originals which populate the English novel, first met by narrator Henry Pulling at his mother's funeral - or was it his mother? Henry leads a spotless life planting dahlias and re-reading Scott soon to be disrupted by Aunt Augusta and her African lover-manservant Wordsworth who pots pot in the urn containing his mother's ashes. And before long Henry is travelling with Augusta, from Brighton to Paris to Milan to Boulogne, being used to illustrate one of her tenets ("gold needs free circulation"), and participating in her search for the greatest of her many loves, the hard-to-find war criminal Visconti. This along with Interpol's interpolations, a grass roots girl from America and her father, a C.I.A. official of sad mien, etc., etc. All roads lead finally to Paraguay and here in a small backwater there are touches of the old Greene - the picturesque shabby scenery; the worldlier applied insights; the obstreperous aplomb quieting down to a gentler irony which redeems Henry's virtuously wasted years and the book. Only a mixed success. Perhaps Swift's "humor is never, by invention got." (Kirkus Reviews)