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Adam Blakeney Writes on Graham Greene

Adam Blakeney Writes on Graham Greene Shapero Rare Books

Adam Blakeney writes –

‘I sometimes equate Graham Greene with milk, truly! And I’m not talking about oat milk either.

Adam Blakeney Writes on Graham Greene Shapero Rare Books

 Here’s why: it’s a staple. In the field of modern literature collecting – particularly in England - his works are, for many people a starting point. And the reasons for THAT are cognate with that which makes all manner of authors and subjects collectable.

First and foremost – he’s popular. He wrote in numerous fields, from mystery to thriller, from travel to drama, was filmed, wrote children’s books, wrote about politics and humour. That’s a wide net.  And books in general are a wide net. There’s a book for everyone in this world, you know.

And then he’s obtainable. And to start with for not much money. Masterpieces like The Comedians or The Quiet American, or Our Man in Havana can be had for low hundreds of pounds. And many of the later books can bought for tens of pounds in lovely condition to boot. Even the mighty early works like Brighton Rock or A Gun For Sale can be found (sans dust jackets, of course) for perfectly affordable prices.

Which brings me on to a third factor. And this is key: he is very hard to complete. And that implies the chase, the hunt, the quest. For what on earth is the point of being a collector of something easily obtainable? Then you’re not a collector, you are merely a buyer. So with Greene – you could search for years and only hear whispered mentions of After Two Years, or For Christmas. Mercy – even I’ve only seen those two books twice! And then even the best heeled collectors have to wait for their chance of a fine dust jacket on A Gun For Sale, of a beautiful Journey Without Maps, or the correct first (in the right jacket!) of Stanboul Train!

All these factors are true to a lesser or greater degree for all species of book collecting. And that brings me back to the milk. It would be easy – seeing how often you find milk in every store – to imagine it never sells. Whereas the truth is that like books, they come and go in droves. You buy a bunch and they sell and you look round and they’ve gone. Right now we happen to be on the upswing, having lately acquired a few runs of his works and some especially good inscribed works. Real ones! With real associations. And soon, if the trend continues they will have gone. Just saying!’

Discover more: Graham Greene

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Shapero Rare Books is an internationally renowned dealer in London, specialising in antiquarian & rare books and works on paper, with particular expertise in fine illustrated books from the 15th to the 20th century, travel & voyages, natural history, modern firsts, rare children’s books, guidebooks, Hebraica & Judaica, Eastern European, and Islamica

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