©1971 Graham Greene; (P)2009 BBC Audiobooks Ltd
I listened to 'The Heart of the Matter' because: 1) I wanted to get acquainted with Graham Greene's writing; 2) it had won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for 1948; and 3) it was also included in both Modern Library and TIME lists.
It is a straightforward enough story about the unravelling of an honest and upright colonial police officer, Scobie. It revolves around events taking place in wartime Western Africa; in truth, however, it is more about Scobie's struggles with his own demons, his perceptions and fears, and his, ultimately futile, quest for happiness. Strangely, it seemed to me, Scobie the good hardly ever thinks about his work, except in relation to his own piety and damnation. It was as if the natives didn't have any agency at all, as if they existed merely to serve or to corrupt the White colonists.
Nonetheless, I enjoyed listening to the book for the most part. The narration, by Michael Kitchen, was also good. (It may not, however, be suitable for listening while driving -- Kitchen whispers too often.)
I would recommend this book because like most Graham Greene books it's all about the story. No superfluous words or dead end digressions, every word helps make an image or pushes the next word the end.The subject matter is interesting. The main characters are defined by their actions and words and not the characters internal feelings conveyed to the reader by the omnipotent narrator which is refreshing.
The scene where Yusef blackmails Scobie but feels genuinely bad to use this leverage against a man he respects and wishes to befriend.
I can't recall a single moment where Micheal Kitchen's performance grated on me; to me that is very high praise.
Normally Graham Greene's books have turned into some great movies. I haven't bothered to find out if this one was made into a movie. The actions of the characters are compelling in the book because they help create the atmosphere of the story, in movies atmosphere and action are two separate things. I don't think Scobie doctoring his diary would be gripping cinema unless you knew why. And if they explained why it would ruin the ending of a movie.
most if not all Graham Greene novels have a cynical conclusion, this is no exception. This is a story about a man who truly loves god and the final act his Catholic guilt is taken to an incredible extreme. There's no silver lining at the end of this one, but a great read regardless.
Anyone familiar with Foyle's War will immediately "see" Scoby. Michael Kitchen brought this character to life. An excellent reading of this dark tale.
It was evocative of the far-flung British empire and the people who lived in the farthest outposts. The ennui was palpable.
Likes books and reading/listening
I love Michael Kitchen, I love the idea of Graham Greene. The subject matter sounded so promising--corruption in Colonial Africa. But oh my there was something just way to boring. I kept drifting off into other thoughts and daydreams. Finally I had to be honest with myself and abandon the book as my iphone is always short on memory.
Other people might enjoy it.
Brilliant. Sobering. Deep.
Yes, because of Scobie's attempts to reconcile circumstance, love, faith, justice, duty, conscience, lust, and opportunity.
Scobie first meeting the shipwreck survivors
It made me think.
Please get Michael Kitchen to record The Power and the Glory and Brighton Rock, Graham Greene's other serious morality books. The current readers of those two absolutely pale in comparison to Kitchen.
Michael Kitchen's narrative style
George Orwell's Burmese Days because the tone, cadence and style are similar
all fantastic, but the main character, Scobie, was hauntingly poignant
"Hot and Steamy"
While the story is a little on the simple side Graham Greene manages to capture the atmosphere of the west African colony during war time. The climate is hot and steamy and the social scene is claustrophobic to say the least. The narrator captures the feel of the book perfectly.
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