Three men meet on a ship bound for Haiti, where corruption and terror reign. Disillusioned and noncommittal, they are the “comedians” of Greene’s title, hiding from life’s pain and love behind their chosen masks.
©1965 Graham Greene (P)1993 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“Graham Greene arouses responses of curiosity and attention comparable to those set up by Malraux…Faulkner and Hemingway.” (New Statesman)
A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.
"We mustn't complain too much of being comedians—it's an honourable profession. If only we could be good ones the world might gain at least a sense of style. We have failed—that's all. We are bad comedians, we aren't bad men."
I started out thinking I was going to just listen to a 'minor' Greene, and finished the novel once again shocked by my ability to completely underestimate Greene once again. The Comedians is a dark tragedy set in a Haitian Hell ruled by Papa Doc and his Tonton Macoute. Into this tortured hell floats Brown, the Smiths and Jones. This sad troupe each struggles with overcoming fear, death, love and apathy while dancing on the edge of the abyss. It reminded me a little of Under the Volcano, but instead of one man's struggle with mescal, it is humanity's struggle with apathy and fear.
I don't think he necessarily meant it that way, but his delivery came off snide and condescending instead of ironic and empathic. I don't think Haitians sound as he made them sound, and his American accents were lame caricatures.
No. When I listen to a book, I want to believe in the narrator's voice. I want to believe in the accents. As far as I could tell, Porter read it with some type of British accent, which he flattened to indicate an American, and well, I'm not sure what he did to indicate a Haitian. Certainly, his French accent is inexcusable--nearly unintelligible.
If I have no choice...
"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players...."
Read _Seeds of Fiction_ by Bernard Diederich first. It will increase your enjoyment: he sets the scene for Greene so nicely.Haiti is a difficult world to explain to ordinary folk. It is difficult, first of all, to explain that the Haitian people can be so wonderful yet be oppressed by such terrible dictators time and again. Is it the fault of America, as Greene suggests? It certainly is true that America saw so many communist bogey men in the bushes it failed to recognize the TonTon Macoutes as being more detrimental to the health and well-being of the "tired and poor, yearning to be free" than any Castro. And WAS Papa Doc that bad? No, he was worse even than that. Are there men and women alive today that see to the heart of goodness, as the Smiths did? It certainly is difficult to juxtapose the two: Smith and Duvalier. The absolute is difficult to swallow, yet there do exist absolutely good people. As there also exists absolutely evil ones. This book is peopled with both of them, yet one cannot/should not forget that it is also peopled with the rank and file, the company troupe, as it were, of actors, who learn their lines and continue to repeat them, never learning from a new script. The comedians.
Porter's voice has a tenseness that conveys the fallibility of the novel's protagonist very well.
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