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Loyal to a traitor

The 1980s correspondence between old friends Graham Greene and Kim Philby will soon be released. The artist remained loyal to his muse

By Geordie Williamson   September 2004

After decades of silence, interrupted only by sporadic, guarded communiqués, the correspondence of Graham Greene and Kim Philby was spurred into renewed intimacy by a troubled global situation: a middle eastern state, unbalanced by regime change, had begun taking western hostages, while in nearby Afghanistan, religiously motivated guerrilla fighters threatened efforts to prop up a secular regime. The year is immediately recognisable: it is 1979.

Despite the obvious parallels, Greene and Philby’s decade-long conversation (the letters continue throughout the 1980s) takes place in a world far removed from the present: one frozen in binary opposition, during that weary interregnum before…

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