On 26 October Oscar Jansson (Lund University) will give a lecture on the International Reception of Graham Greene. Participation is free, but please register via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. This event is organised in cooperation with the Research Group English Literature of KU Leuven.
Date: 26 October 2018, 2 pm
Location: KU Leuven – Campus Brussel, room 6108 (Hermes 1)
Graham Greene (1904-1991) was a writer of many talents. From the 1920’s to the 1990’s, he was active on an international area, publishing some eighty books in a wide range of genres. He also wrote film scripts and plays, was a prolific critic and worked for decades as a literary editor and publisher. Both critically acclaimed and commercially successful, Greene inhabits a somewhat paradoxical position in 20th century literature, skirting both the laudable heights of the Nobel Prize and the grim realities of the business of book-making.
In critical accounts Greene’s versatility is often mentioned, but emphasis continually falls on a handful of his novels – either the ones of the ‘Catholic period’ of the 1940’s, or the technically masterful ‘entertainments’. This is unsurprising given the stature of the novel in Western literature, and yet it opens up a range of questions on how the historiographical processes of selection and reduction actually take form in regard to a writer as diverse as Greene. Or more pointedly: how Greene’s critical reception has handled the interpretive and evaluative conflicts that inevitably arise through the transversal character of his writings – either viewed from conceptions of genre, media or nationality.
One can approach these questions by way of Jauss’ theses on the aesthetics of reception – especially through his conceptions of ‘horizons of expectation’ and ‘the literary series’ – and outline the historical trends and argumentative structures of Greene’s international reception. However, given the complexity of Greene’s œuvre, one also needs to account for the influence of pre-critical systems of selection (e.g. genre hierarchies in publishing and translational patterns), international variations in evaluative trends and ‘tastes’, and the fact that many critical accounts were written during Greene’s lifetime, rendering them as examples of historiography-in-the-making; illustrating processes of canonization in real time. In the final analysis, Greene’s prolific variability and the incessantly transgressive character of his writings makes his œuvre and excellent starting point for 20th century literature, both in and beyond traditional boundaries.
Oscar Jansson is a PhD candidate in Comparative Literature at Lund University, writing on the international reception of Graham Greene, and will be a Visiting Scholar at the Centre for Reception Study at KU Leuven in the spring of 2019. Educated at Lund and the Linneaus University in Sweden, he is also an alumnus of the School of Criticism and Theory at Cornell. He has published articles and essays on satire in animated TV-shows, Swedish national romanticism and the novels of Chuch Palanhiuk, and currently edits an international anthology called The Geschlecht Complex: New Essays on Gender, Genre and Ontology. He is the chair of the Lundensean Literature Society.