The Icon: Graham Greene
We’ve got a soft spot for trad writers, but when one of them manages to carry the look through to the colonies, we start taking notes. So in honor of his latest adaptation, we’re bringing you a quick appraisal of the glorious mound of v-neck sweaters and linen suits known as Graham Greene.
Perfectly Embodied: We love a good Savile Row suit as much as the next blog, but in style as in writing Greene’s real genius lay in the colonies. This snap, taken on the set of Our Man in Havana found Greene donning the linen shirt as well as it’s ever been done. Tellingly, he keeps on his hard-bottom oxfords and never looks anything other than English.
Words of Wisdom: There is so much weariness and disappointment in travel that people have to open up — in railway trains, over a fire, on the decks of steamers, and in the palm courts of hotels on a rainy day. They have to pass the time somehow, and they can pass it only with themselves.
The Backstory: Anyone who’s caught a flight to a less traveled part of the world has probably been handed a Graham Greene novel on their way to the airport. And for good reason. His books nail the alienation of the traveler and the careless amorality of international politics, even 50 years after the fact. We’d start with The Third Man (the movie) and The Power and the Glory (the book), but there’s a lot out there and most of it’s good.
The Gutsy Move: It’s remarkably hard to find a picture of Greene without a well-tailored suit or a bottle of whiskey, so this feels a bit like an ambush. Still, not enough has been said about his fondness for mohair.
The Takeaway: There’s something mournful about the trads; in the end, they’re dressing for a world that no longer exists. Greene knew the feeling—whether it was the end of Britain’s globe-spanning empire or the relentless fallen-ness he took from the Church—and his novels are soaked through with it. And since time makes trads of us all, it’s something everyone can relate to. If you’re not feeling it yet… give it time.