The Quiet American: Text and Criticism (Viking Critical Library) by Graham Greene

Graham Greene's agent novels were partly based on his own experiences in the British foreign office in the 1940s and his lifelong ties with SIS

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The Quiet American: Text and Criticism (Viking Critical Library) by Graham Greene


Features

  • Paperback: 515 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.97 x 7.77 x 5.09
  • Publisher: Penguin USA (Paper); Reprint edition (January 1996)
  • ISBN: 014024350X

    Reader Reviews
    6 of 6 people found the following review helpful: Amazing Novel, Great Compilation, February 7, 2003 Reviewer: Patrick Devenny from New Jersey In what is really the grandfather to all noir, foreign intrigue novels, Graham Greene produces not only one of the greatest novels of the 20th century, but also provides a scathing look at American and French policy in Vietnam. It is strange to read The Quiet American now, so long after the disastrous wars that killed millions of people and tore American apart. I would call it an almost tragic read, for in the pages of this provocative novel, Greene provides the roadmap for future disasters. The story is so scathing, so insightful, that one cannot help but to be forever affected. Greene?s tale is made even more effective in this wonderful volume, which provides the reader with numerous criticisms, defenses, and background documents. Greene?s main character in the epic tale is Fowler, an amazingly interesting and complex British journalist covering the endless civil war in French Indochina. Fowler is one of the most engrossing literary characters I have ever read, as he is both worldly and horribly cynical. As if his own inner politics and views were not enough, his personal life also provides intriguing details. His wife back home in England is distant, foreign to him. In the meantime, Fowler has fallen in love with Phuong, a young Vietnamese woman. He finally feels some degree of happiness, of stability, even as the world rages on around him. The inquisitive Fowler is our eyes and ears as we watch a decrepit and corrupt colonialist system fight a hopeless war against ruthless insurgents. All the intricacies of French life in Indochina are described in picturesque detail, giving the book a beautiful travel book element to it. The wartime peace Fowler has found is shattered with the arrival of Pyle, an American consulate official. Pyle is young, Ivy League, and idealistic to a dangerous degree. He is way over his head, as he knows little of the country or of its politics. The ?Quiet American?, as he is known, is a timid young man looking for the ?third way?, a way out of the civil war between communism and colonialism. Although known for his good heart and his boyish enthusiasm, Pyle hides a much darker side, revealed in a shocking way later on in the book. He strikes up a kind of friendship with Fowler, and, to Fowler?s dismay, falls in love Phuong. The book progresses, weaving the amazing story lines of war and love together in an unbelievably interesting book. The message Pyle gives us is a haunting reminder of American innocence about to be eaten alive in the confusing and shadowy jungles of Southeast Asia. The conclusion is just stunning, and it really stays with you. Not only does this version include the wonderful novel, it also contains other samples of Greene?s writing concerning Indochina. The editor, Mr. Pratt, did a really marvelous job compiling a lot of disparate documents into a really effective overview of the war and the story itself. This edition should be the first and last volume any Greene fans need, as it amazingly thorough and respectful of Greene?s brilliant work.

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