Graham Greene and Leopoldo Durán: quixotic companions across Spain and Portugal
It is well known that in his later years Graham Greene spent several summer holidays travelling around Spain and Portugal in the company of his friend Leopoldo Durán, a Galician scholar and Catholic priest. Starting in the summer of 1976, these yearly holidays consolidated their mutual friendship and provided inspiration for Greene’s novel Monsignor Quixote (1982), which features several discussions on faith and belief based on their long chats and confessions. During these travels Durán got to know Greene very well and became one of his closest companions in the last stages of his life, and even accompanied him at his deathbed and administered the last sacraments to him.
Considering Durán’s influence and how this friendship was forged mostly throughout the various Iberian journeys it is remarkable to note how few particulars about them are given in Norman Sherry’s third biographical volume, covering from 1955 to 1991. The official biographer has conducted no further research other than a few occasional references to Durán’s memoir, Graham Greene, Friend and Brother (1994), which is the closest we get to a narrative of the trips. However, even this unique source declines to give a full chronological account of them and remains quite obscure in many respects. It is not only that the author offers a highly subjective and occasionally biased account of their “summer jaunts”; so far there exists no written account, either by Durán or by any other biographers, of the number, duration, stages or dates of Greene’s Iberian trips. Therefore, this paper sets out to fill in this gap and to provide a reference framework for future research on this fascinating period of Greene’s life.
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