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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
5,456118793 (3.95)369
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. 80
    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 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 369 mentions

English (110)  Spanish (2)  Dutch (2)  Italian (1)  Swedish (1)  German (1)  Hebrew (1)  English (118)
Showing 1-5 of 110 (next | show all)
This is a wonderful little novel. Set Saigon in the early 1950s when Vietnam was called French Indochina. On one level, this is love triangle told by one of the three. Thomas Fowler is an over-the-hill English newspaper reporter reporting on the guerrilla war the French are fighting against the Vietnamese communists. Fowler has a wife in England, but they have been separated for years, and he has now built a comfortable life for himself in Saigon. Comfortable because he has a young Vietnamese mistress, Phuong, who seems to live only for him.

Things change when a handsome young American, Alden Pyle, arrives in Saigon working for some aid mission through the US embassy. Pyle has been educated at the best Boston universities, and is full of energy and ideas on how Vietnam can be saved from the communists. Fowler and Pyle meet and develop a friendship where they discuss their conflicting ideas over the future of Vietnam. But when Pyle meets Phuong, he is stunned at her beauty and disturbed that this young girl has to demean herself by living with the aged Fowler.

Believing that he has fallen in love with Phuong, he tells Fowler that he intends to offer himself to Phuong as her husband, and take her to the United States. Pyle does convince Phuong to leave Fowler and take up with him. But then strange political incidents begin to occur, and it appears that the quiet Pyle has something to do with these changes, and Fowler begins to suspect that there is more to Pyle than he has revealed.

The book ends with an ethical challenge to Fowler: Pyle's life is endanger, and Fowler is in a position to save him, but if he does, he will lose Phuong.

I found the book especially interesting if you view the three characters as representing their countries. Fowler represents the old colonial powers: knowledgeable but tired and a bit corrupt. Pyle represents the Americans: young, bright, energetic and believing Americans have all the answers. And finally, Phuong represents the Vietnamese people: beautiful, exotic and unable to control her own destiny. I highly recommend this book. ( )
  ramon4 | Nov 21, 2016 |
Greene's description of the scene in Indochina and the protagonist's fears and insecurity is succinct and vivid. He brings out one truism - that what you think is right for others may not be the best for them. ( )
  siok | Sep 10, 2016 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 110 (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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