This was an excellent read. Pyle's dangerous naivete was paired with distant coldness when confronted with the horrors his outlook led to. Also, I think Greene was pretty woke when it comes to men and women and sexuality.
It failed my higher expectation, I wish my easy siding with Fowler’s anti-American and pro-Communist viewpoints were challenged. Perhaps I was more like Pyle (aren’t the majority of us so?) so as to appreciate his portrayal and profundity in Fowler’s mind. I’d like the book better if Fowler (opium addict, self deceiving affection towards woman and home, passive cynicism, better journalism) were mocked more and not felt representing the author.
I also had problems with the multi-part structure, with each part containing similar and deliberate/random order of timeline and flash back. Part 1 maybe like an outer skin of the fruit, with each part/layer peeled away to reveal the inner layer (next part), till the final part i.e. the core, which was coming to Fowler’s awareness gradually, so was my sense.
One one level, a truly amazing novel on love, betrayal and doubt. Graham Greene was my favorite writer when I was much younger, and I recently read The Quiet American for the third time. This time I more fully appreciated also the political insights of Greene, often referred to as a writer with an almost uncanny ability to visit and then describe a world of politics and revolutions at the right time.
He was a flawed and ambivalent Catholic, and his battles with faith and doubt became the blood that lifted his novels to excellence. Give him a try.
One of the finest books I've ever read. A masterfully told story that raises the big questions about good and evil and beyond without giving the reader the answers. Wonderful food for thought for people who see the world in shades of grey, not black and white. Beautiful prose - first class use of metaphor - and engaging story. Highly recommend it.
I loved this book and also thought the movie with Michael Cain and Brendan Fraser was equally as sensational, which is not often the case. Set in exotic Vietnam in the early 60s as the American presence is slowly increasing, it beautifully recreates the city of Saigon with its cafes and international intrigue. The subplot is the romantic relationship of Michael Cain's character, an older, life-weary English journalist who is living with a beautiful, younger Vietnamese woman, Phoung. Fraser's character is ambiguous at first...what is he actually doing there, who is he really? Cain takes a liking to him, until Fraser bodaciously reveals he is in love with Phoung and wants to marry her. Turns out he is with an American agency (CIA?) bent on fomenting upheaval. All of the different plots, the desires for Phoung, Fraser's real purpose, the setting, the war that is raging in the North and moving south, Cain's expatriot and indulgent lifestyle (smoking heroin almost daily) fire the imagination and are beautifully woven together by Greene's masterful skills. If you like romance and intrigue in exotic locations, this has it all!
I came to appreciate Graham Greene's artistry through this book and it subsequently sent me on long journey into "Greeneland". An air of world-weariness hangs over this book in the form of the main character, a middle-aged British journalist living in Saigon towards the end of the French colonial period and at the start of the Indo-China War, what would become the Vietnam War to the Americans. As foil to the cynicism of the main character is the naive (read dangerous) do-goodness of a young and quiet American, who competes with the main character for the love, or at least attentions, of a young Vietnamese woman. I was captivated by the book and actually read it while in Vietnam, which made it seem yet more immediate. The prose is superb and the author's ability to draw out the psychological complexities (or lack thereof) of the characters made the story come alive.
Written with spare prose, every word is weighed and placed in the text for a reason. A tightly written narrative that explores the relationship between guilt, innocence, truth, self-awareness, delusion and the role of intention, all set within a framework of the seedy, inglorious end of colonial rule in Indochina.
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