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Abstract

This article examines the extraordinary—but regrettably brief—friendship between Graham Greene and the Norwegian novelist, poet, dramatist, political activist, and war correspondent Nordahl Grieg.

In his diary Greene detailed his first encounter with Grieg in 1932, describing the Norwegian writer as “charming with his accent, his courtliness, his unexpectedness, which I could not follow closely enough.” Although Greene and Greig corresponded for several years, they didn’t meet again until after the German occupation of Norway in April 1940. Grieg fled to London, smuggling the gold from the Norwegian Bank out of his occupied home country. Immediately following his dangerous adventure, Grieg phoned Greene from the hotel and invited him over. During his London exile Greig was eventually allowed to join RAF bomber fighters as a correspondent. His plane was shot down by German bomber planes on a raid over Berlin, and three of the squadron’s four war correspondents were reported missing—among them Nordahl Grieg.

“Nordahl Grieg was an omen or a myth, and he remained a myth,” Greene later wrote of his Norwegian friend. “Even his death was to prove legendary, so that none will be able to say with any certainty, ‘In this place he died.’”

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