©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.)
Greene was himself a man trapped between the person he was and the one his religion taught he should be. Scobie's conversations with himself and his God, to me, are Greene wrestling with his own nature. This is a tragic story, beautifully written and narrated.
This author is new to me, bit the depth of his insight into the morally troubled human soul was both beautiful and sad. One of the best performances by a narrator I've ever heard!
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.
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.
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
Graham Greene speaks to the human condition with simple sympathy.
Kitchen helps the reader/listener to feel it keenly and genuinely.
Guilty, whacked character -- but how beautifully and expressively Greene writes about him. Absorbing, depressing.
I like books with complex characters and an in-depth examination of relationships. Memoir, mystery, historical fiction are favorites.
Have enjoyed M. Kitchens in Foyle's war - one reason I chose this selection. Greene has a special insight into human motivations and relationships. This story does not disappoint, and Kitchens moves the story along very capably. Worth a listen!
"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.
A brilliant book brilliantly read. I read all Graham Greene's work 30 years ago and felt it was time to revisit. I wasn't sure if I would like Michael Kitchen's reading as I have got to know him so well through his TV work, but he was absolutely superb. I became completely absorbed and, through his skilful reading, I enjoyed the book even more than I did the first time around.
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