Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Hyperdulia and Grandpa

Two pages from a letter my grandfather sent me, and a picture of him and me from September 1979, back in the old brown and orange paisley days (the date, as you can see, has seeped through the back of the photograph).

A few months prior to his death, my grandfather sent this letter to me in England. It continues a conversation we had been having the previous Christmas (2008), while I was visiting California. The topic was film adaptations of novels...

Recently, I went to visit my grandmother and found myself nosing around in the man's old library. I knew he adored Graham Greene, but I never realised he had two very rare first editions (The Name of Action and Rumour at Nightfall, both sans dustjackets). Perhaps he didn't realise their monetary value, or care...When I took down the first volume of Norman Sherry's vast biography of Greene to read up on them, I found my grandfather had carefully inscribed the word 'hyperdulia' onto the black flap.

And here is Greene in his memoir,
A Sort of Life, explaining how and why his interest in Catholicism began:

I met the girl I was to marry after finding a note from her at the porter's lodge in Balliol protesting against my inaccuracy in writing, during the course of a film review, of the "worship" Roman Catholics gave to the Virgin Mary, when I should have used the term "hyperdulia." I was interested that anyone took these subtle distinctions of an unbelievable theology seriously, and we became acquainted.

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