Alistair Stead


Henry Green did not finish his second novel, Mood, nor, for very different reasons, did he finish the memoirs of his fire-fighting experience in London during the Blitz. On the collapse of his last project, an attempt to return to and complete his 'interim' autobiography. Pack My Bag (1940), he produced for The Spectator in 1963 what in effect were his last words as a writer ([1992 284-85). 'For Jenny with Affection from Henry Green' was a kind of apology for being unable to write novels any more and, more obliquely (since it was to Jenny Rees that he had been dictating his autobiography), for leaving unfinished business. This is the death of the author, although the retired businessman, Henry Yorke, lived on for another sad decade. He could not, finally, articulate his traumatic experience in the Blitz , for like many of his tormented protagonists, from Blindness {\926) to Back (1946), he found it impossible to tell the whole painful story. In the fiction he had by many devices to 'tell it slant', as Emily Dickinson put it, which also meant to sustain ambiguity to the end, in the end.



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