Writing Among the Ruins
Graham Greene and Evelyn Waugh
October 5, 2004 – March 20, 2004
The University of Texas at Austin's Harry Ransom Center pays tribute this fall to two of the 20th century's finest British authors with the exhibition "Writing Among the Ruins: Graham Greene and Evelyn Waugh." The exhibition runs from Oct. 5 through March 20 in the Ransom Center Galleries.
This exhibition, co-curated by Ransom Center Head Librarian Richard Oram and Cline Senior Curator of Modern British Literature John Kirkpatrick, marks the centenary of the births of two of Britain's most prominent novelists of the past century (Waugh in 1903, Greene in 1904). Waugh and Greene were friends whose lives shared many parallels. In addition to being contemporaries at Oxford, both authors converted to Catholicism, and they shared many traits, interests and attitudes.
Both men traveled widely in exotic locales and wrote entertaining books about their travels, both worked as journalists and both were keenly interested in the cinema. All of these activities will be surveyed in the exhibition as well as the involvement of each in World War II (Greene in the British Secret Intelligence Service, MI6; Waugh in the Royal Marines).
A focus of the exhibition will be on the importance of religion in their novels, the reaction of the Catholic Church to their writings and their differences on matters of faith.
The Ransom Center has large and important collections of the papers of both authors who remain immensely popular today. There continues to be a strong and widespread interest in their works (nearly all are in print) and lives among the public and academics. Several film and television adaptations of their novels, such as the BBC's popular production of Waugh's "Brideshead Revisited" and movies made from Greene's "The End of the Affair" and "The Quiet American," have appeared in recent years.
The exhibition will include books from Waugh's large personal library, including books inscribed by Greene to Waugh, as well as furniture and paintings from Waugh's house. Also included will be correspondence between the two friends and the manuscripts of a number of their most important novels, Waugh's "Brideshead Revisited," "A Handful of Dust" and "The Loved One" and Greene's "The Power and the Glory," "The Heart of the Matter" and "The End of the Affair."
Ransom Center Director Thomas F. Staley views this exhibition as an opportunity to re-examine the authors in an array of contexts, from historical and biographical to social and religious.
"Graham Greene and Evelyn Waugh are two of the most important British novelists of the 20th century. Novels such as Waugh's 'Brideshead Revisited' and 'Decline and Fall,' and Greene's 'The Heart of the Matter' and 'The Power and the Glory' have left an indelible literary mark on the period encompassing both world wars," says Staley. "Holding as it does the materials of source and inspiration of these two major literary figures, it is fitting that the Ransom Center celebrate them with an exhibition highlighting their lives and their art."