Skip to Content

Reading Groups

Belief and Doubt: The Novels of Graham Greene (and One by John le Carré) with Dennis Krieger

5 Sessions Thursdays, 7:00 pm EDT - 8:30 pm EDT September 29, 2022 to January 26, 2023

Online via Zoom

The ‘With Books’ option includes all titles required for this group at a 10% discount.


Meeting Dates:
9/29, 10/27, 12/1, 12/29, 1/26

Dennis Krieger will again lead his popular Graham Greene reading group! In five of Graham Greene’s most celebrated novels, Greene traverses the polarities between which his characters exist and struggle: Belief and Doubt; Sin and Redemption; and Loyalty and Betrayal. Central to these novels is Greene’s exploration of the manifestations, applications and outcomes of “faith” as a force that acts upon the lives and souls of his characters and, in turn, can enable, liberate, paralyze or defeat them in their efforts toward fulfillment.

  • Session I: In The Power and the Glory (1940), thought by many to be Greene’s masterpiece, in a region of Mexico where religion has been abolished by the State and priests are hunted down and executed, the unnamed “whiskey priest”, tortured by his moral lapses and loss of faith, and pursued by the Lieutenant who is obsessed with eradicating God from the land, takes flight through dystopian surroundings and, perhaps, reacquires his humanity.
  • Session II: In The Heart of the Matter (1948), Greene examines how “pity” becomes the contributing cause of the personal and professional failures of Scobie, a British policeman serving in West Africa. Driven by this “pity”, Scobie seeks to honorably reconcile his love for a woman with the demands of his faith and, hopelessly conflicted, descends into unpardonable sin.
  • Session III: In The End of the Affair (1951), the parties to an adulterous relationship engage in a powerful, intense emotional and spiritual tug-of-war where the conflict between passionate love and promises made to God result in expressions of hatred toward God from one party and unexpected beatitude for the other.
  • Session IV: In The Quiet American (1956), Greene displays how fervent and misplaced secular faith can lead to the same tragic, devastating consequences as those provoked by religious crises of faith.
  • Session V: In The Human Factor (1978), a novel thought to be influenced by Greene’s friendship with Kim Philby, his former boss at MI6 and the most notorious of the Cambridge Spies. British Cold War espionage is dissected and Greene addresses whether even the betrayal of one’s country can contain elements of honor. In The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1963), it is said that Greene learned from Conrad and John le Carré learned from Greene. In The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, the book that revolutionized the espionage novel, we can consider whether the pupil has surpassed his teacher. *Please note that Session V will be two hours long.

This course will provide participants the opportunity to experience, from novels written over nearly a forty-year period, what Greene identifies as the “moral ambiguities” that exist in religion, politics, passion, and betrayal.

Please read The Power and the Glory before the first meeting.

2022-fall.reading-group-featured-images7

Led by

  • Dennis Krieger

    Dennis Krieger

    Dennis Krieger

    Dennis Krieger is a Manhattan attorney with a lifetime of involvement in literature. During college and law school at Berkeley, Dennis was a Teaching Assistant in various literature courses. Later, he was the co-author of Skiing the Best, a Guide to Skiing in North America (Vintage) which became a bestseller and was a main Book of the Month selection (Quality Book Club). Dennis is an avid reader of Graham Greene as well as British fiction between-the wars generally. A Proustian, Dennis has spent the last decade participating in The Center’s intensive Proust Groups as well as in the study of Proust at other institutions.