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De stille Amerikaan by Graham Greene
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De stille Amerikaan (original 1955; edition 1978)

by Graham Greene

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,385116811 (3.95)364
Member:Philippe_Nollet
Title:De stille Amerikaan
Authors:Graham Greene
Info:Amsterdam Bakker 1978
Collections:Literatuur, Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:1001 boeken, 20e eeuw, Azië, Brits, Britse literatuur, Klassieker, Koude Oorlog, Kolonialisme, spionage, Fictie, Graham Greene, Historische fictie, Indochina, Literatuur, Roman, Politiek, Vietnam, Vietnamoorlog, Oorlog

Work details

The Quiet American by Graham Greene (1955)

  1. 70
    Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (browner56)
    browner56: Powerful, suspenseful fictional accounts of the intended and unintended consequences of colonial rule
  2. 10
    Doctor Fischer of Geneva, or The Bomb Party by Graham Greene (John_Vaughan)
  3. 10
    The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene (Sandydog1)
    Sandydog1: Equally moving, and I think it shares top honors for Greene's best.
  4. 10
    Getting to Know the General by Graham Greene (John_Vaughan)
  5. 10
    A Burnt-Out Case by Graham Greene (John_Vaughan)
  6. 00
    The Secret Agent: A Simple Tale by Joseph Conrad (thecoroner)
  7. 00
    Zero Hour in Phnom Penh by Christopher G. Moore (JuliaMaria)
    JuliaMaria: Schauplatz beider Romane ist Südostasien. Spannung. Grausamkeit der herrschenden Gewalt.
  8. 01
    Killing Fields by Christopher Hudson (John_Vaughan)
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» See also 364 mentions

English (108)  Spanish (2)  Dutch (2)  Italian (1)  Swedish (1)  German (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (116)
Showing 1-5 of 108 (next | show all)
Innocence always calls mutely for protection when we would be so much wiser to guard ourselves against it: innocence is like a dumb leper who has lost his bell, wandering the world, meaning no harm.

The Quiet American is Greene's exploration of relationships and politics against the backdrop of the conflict in Vietnam in the early 1950s.

Thinking about it, this is really an amazing book and shows Greene's ability to observe current affairs - and look behind smokescreens. The "amazing" aspect of the book is that it was published in 1955, a decade before the conflict in Vietnam would become so prominent in the social and political agendas of not only the US but many other western countries.

Greene's novel tells the story of three characters - each a symbol for a distinct interest group - a Vietnamese woman torn between a cynical Brit and a "quiet" American. "Quiet" because Greene contrasts him to a brash compatriot, another CIA agent whose task is to undermine the Communist "renegades".

Without going into the story and revealing too much, this is a tense but slow read with one of the best endings of a Greene novel that reflects on the futility of political martyrdom and sacrifices made for the greater good.

‘Yes. They killed him because he was too innocent to live. He was young and ignorant and silly and he got involved. He had no more of a notion than any of you what the whole affair’s about, and you gave him money and York Harding’s books on the East and said, “Go ahead. Win the East for Democracy.” He never saw anything he hadn’t heard in a lecture-hall, and his writers and his lecturers made a fool of him. When he saw a dead body he couldn’t even see the wounds. A Red menace, a soldier of democracy.’
( )
  BrokenTune | Aug 21, 2016 |
No good guy. Great story of morally ambiguous people. Off to read more Graham Greene. ( )
  pgtrnr | Aug 18, 2016 |
No good guy. Great story of morally ambiguous people. Off to read more Graham Greene. ( )
  pgtrnr | Aug 18, 2016 |
This doesn't express the infinite weight of living under the tension between autonomy and guilt (which in all Greene's works is how "responsibility" manifests) with the same nuanced, sad patience as some of the author's very best books: The Heart of the Matter or The Power and the Glory, say; that testimonial atmosphere is leavened with the tight allegory and rock-solid plotting that backbeat his "entertainments", and so this is a hybrid creature (as also The Third Man, Brighton Rock), drawing its power from its Shakespearean inexorability. It's prescient politically, of course (the CIA in Vietnam during the independence war against the French, perfecting the kind of "third force" "our guys" skulduggery they would pull all over the world in the second half of the twentieth century and that would bear such grim fruit in the twenty-first), and there is a good rate of period and place detail that doesn't usually fall over into exotica (and when it does, like with some of the narrator's observations about the Vietnamese people especially when refracted through Phuong and a gender politics that is both racialized-colonial and prefeminist, its very supersededness helps express the narrator's limits and adds a psychological dimension to the political allegory--and then too also, no doubt only partially at most with Greene's conscious acquiescence, opens the door for an explosive postcolonial recombination, the still here mostly elided perspective of the Vietnamese, who will be the actual victors in the liberation war and who will blow the British–American old hand–young turk structuring dynamic here to smithereens). But basically this is an existential work about "commitment," which for Greene as for Sartre is ultimately the only question, and about the different kinds of monsters it makes of those who embrace it and those who flee from it as long as possible, and how much of our humanity we may salvage under such circumstances, and in what way. Do you like novels that dramatize a moral choice? Then this one will resonate complexly and not with the flatness to which allegory is sometimes prone; if not, not.

(Also, I been drinking vermouth cassis like daily since I read this b, as they did, and so I have it for that to thank.) ( )
  MeditationesMartini | Aug 4, 2016 |
Fowler is a cynical British journalist covering the war in 1950s Indo-China, pre-Vietnam. He somewhat reluctantly befriends Pyle, an idealistic young American Economic Attaché with “special duties.”
“What is he? O.S.S.?”
“The initial letters are not very important. I think now they are different.”

Pyle is obsessed with two things that Fowler objects to: Supporting a “third force” that could change the course of the war; and Fowler’s lover, Phuong.

They are opposites. Fowler embraces neutrality, but loves and somewhat understands the country – or knows what he doesn’t understand. Pyle stumbles around unknowingly and unaware of danger. Fowler deplores the war. Pyle seems impervious to the damage it causes. Fowler is married back in England and wants Phuong for his own selfish reasons while he is in the country. Pyle wants to marry Phuong and take her to America.

This is a complex, almost perfect novel that explores the morality and consequences of war and love. ( )
  Hagelstein | May 25, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 108 (next | show all)
Easily, with long-practiced and even astonishing skill, speaking with the voice of a British reporter who is forced, despite himself, toward political action and commitment, Greene tells a complex but compelling story of intrigue and counter-intrigue, bombing and murder. Into it is mixed the rivalry of two white men for a Vietnamese girl. These elements are all subordinate to the political thesis which they dramatize and which is stated baldly and explicitly throughout the book.
 
There are many natural storytellers in English literature, but what was rare about Greene was the control he wielded over his abundant material. Certainly one can imagine nobody who could better weave the complicated threads of war-torn Indochina into a novel as linear, as thematically compact and as enjoyable as The Quiet American
 

» Add other authors (93 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Greene, Grahamprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Caddell, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gorra, MichaelSuggestions for Further Readingsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lundblad, JaneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Magnus, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Scheepmaker, H.J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Springer, KätheÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stingl, NikolausÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stone, RobertIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Valja, JiøíTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
This is the patent age of new inventions
For killing bodies, and for saving souls,
All propagated with the best intentions. — Byron
I do not like being moved; for the will is excited, and action
Is a most dangerous thing; I tremble for something factitious,
Some malpractice of heart and illegitimate process;
We're so prone to these things, with our terrible notions of duty. — A. H. Clough
Dedication
First words
After dinner I sat and waited for Pyle in my room over the rue Catinat; he had said, ‘I’ll be with you at latest by ten,’ and when midnight struck I couldn’t stay quiet any longer and went down into the street.
Quotations
innocence is like a dumb leper who has lost his bell, wandering the world, meaning no harm.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
While the French Army in Indo-China is grappling with the Vietminh, back in Saigon a young and high-minded American named Pyle begins to channel economic aid to a "Third Force."

Caught between French colonialists and the Vietminh, Fowler, the narrator and seasoned foreign correspondent, observes: "I never knew a man who had better motives for all the trouble he caused." As young Pyle's policies blunder on into bloodshed, the older man finds it impossible to stand aside as an observer. But Fowler's motives for intervening are suspect, both to the police and to himself: for Pyle has robbed him of his Vietnamese mistress.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0143039024, Paperback)

"I never knew a man who had better motives for all the trouble he caused," Graham Greene's narrator Fowler remarks of Alden Pyle, the eponymous "Quiet American" of what is perhaps the most controversial novel of his career. Pyle is the brash young idealist sent out by Washington on a mysterious mission to Saigon, where the French Army struggles against the Vietminh guerrillas.

As young Pyle's well-intentioned policies blunder into bloodshed, Fowler, a seasoned and cynical British reporter, finds it impossible to stand safely aside as an observer. But Fowler's motives for intervening are suspect, both to the police and himself, for Pyle has stolen Fowler's beautiful Vietnamese mistress.

Originally published in 1956 and twice adapted to film, The Quiet American remains a terrifiying and prescient portrait of innocence at large. This Graham Greene Centennial Edition includes a new introductory essay by Robert Stone.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:35 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

This novel is a study of New World hope and innocence set in an Old World of violence. The scene is Saigon in the violent years when the French were desperately trying to hold their footing in the Far East. The principal characters are a skeptical British journalist, his attractive Vietnamese mistress, and an eager young American sent out by Washington on a mysterious mission.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 5 descriptions

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