Graham Greene on Eric Gill
Graham Greene (1904-1991) was a novelist, critic and Catholic. I read much of his work when I was younger, though not now.
I came across this volume The Lost Childhood and other essays (Eyre & Spottiswoode, London, 1951, 2nd impression) at a bookshop the other week. Pulling it from among its companions I flicked through quickly and was astonished to find an essay Greene had written on Gill. The essay is not dated or sourced (though I guess it may have first appeared in The Tablet as this is one of the periodicals noted in Acknowledgements).
You can read the entire essay (it covers but two and a bit pages) for yourself as I am reproducing it below.
Greene is dismissive of Gill, calling him ‘an artist not of the first rank’ and refers to his ‘fervent little articles on sex’. Greene may have had no idea of Gill’s perversities though he writes: ‘Eric Gill, with his beard and his biretta, his enormous outspokenness, his amorous gusto, trailing his family across the breadth of England with his chickens, cats, dogs, goats, ducks, and geese, belonged only distantly to this untraditional tradition [‘a carefully arranged disregard of conformity to national ways of thought and behaviour’]; he was an intruder – a disturbing intruder among the eccentrics’.
Maybe, after all, Greene had a whiff of the real Gill.
[This is my 401st post.]