Praxis

August 1, 2007

The Quiet American

Filed under: Literature — duncan @ 6:09 pm

Reading Graham Greene again and hating him. Why aren’t people wise to these tricks? The enforced melancholy; the pre-emptive nostalgia. Wallowing in the self-pity generated by his shallow cynicism; the narrator’s self-loathing disguised as authorial distance. Women shuffled around the plot as empty symbols of virtue and desire. “I watched them with the nostalgia I knew I would feel when I had left these regions for ever.” “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.” Fuck off Graham Greene. This voice of experience is a pose – like Hemingway’s; like Raymond Chandler’s (but without the funny similes). “I think it was then, wondering what a man is, that I felt my first affection for Pyle. He sat a little turned away from Granger, twisting his beer mug, with an expression of determined remoteness.” This determined remoteness is the cornerstone of Greene’s ideal of masculinity. His macho hero tries to be unmoved by suffering; and Greene will choose Pyle’s virginal abstraction over real involvement. What counts is that one remains untouched.

“There is a splinter of ice in the heart of a writer.” False. What he means is: I have a splinter of ice in my heart. It’s always melting; I have to work hard to maintain it. And I do so by pretending it’s essential to my art.

2 Comments

  1. The enforced melancholy; the pre-emptive nostalgia. Wallowing in the self-pity generated by his shallow cynicism; the narrator’s self-loathing disguised as authorial distance.

    You say this like they’re bad things.

    Comment by Tom — August 1, 2007 @ 8:32 pm

  2. Don’t get me wrong: I’m second to none in my pre-emptively nostalgic self-pity. I just don’t think I need any help with it, that’s all.

    Comment by praxisblog — August 1, 2007 @ 8:44 pm


RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: