I’m going through some old notes and came across an interesting tidbit about Graham Greene and the Victorians.
The context, briefly: A 1966 review in the Times Literary Supplement tackled a new biography of a Victorian general, and the reviewer questioned the biography author’s belief in the general’s “death wish.” Graham Greene wrote a Letter to the Editor in response, and here’s the relevant bit:
The popular writer does not describe a new obsession – he is quick to describe one which had already been obvious for a long time. Men and women did go to Africa to die… In our age – perhaps because of that boring bomb – the will to survive has become the main obsession, and critics demand more objective evidence of the death wish than they demand of the survival wish.
I have only the briefest memories of the late stages of the Cold War, and none of the years when nuclear warfare seemed like a real threat, so I find this idea – that the atom bomb could radically alter our relationship to our own mortality – seriously interesting.
Plus, how great is the phrase “that boring bomb”?