Greene and Waugh, who were contemporaries at Oxford, exchanged inscribed copies of their books throughout their lives and regularly reviewed each other's writing.
Waugh's description of this as "a bad book" follows a letter he sent to Greene earlier the same year, shortly after finishing the draft: "I finished that book I was writing. Not good. Of course all writers write some bad books but it seems a pity at this particular time. It has some excellent farce, but only for a few pages. The rest very dull. Well, the war was like that." (27 February 1952, Letters (1980), p.370).
Despite Waugh's apparent poor opinion of the book, it went on to win the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for 1952.
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