Skip to main content

The Quiet American - By Graham Greene- Book Review


Writer: Graham Greene
Genre: Fiction, Classis
Rating: Must Read
Every writer has a story to tell. It is all about a story which finds its way to the paper. We all tell stories. What makes a story well-told and great, to my mind, is the connect the writer establishes between the story and the environment which sets the context of the story. Once we understand the world in which the story unravels, we are immediately hooked to it. In a subtle view, the writer sets the context which helps the reader learn the micro as well as macro contexts of the story. A great story like Stendhal's Red and Black is not only the story of the protagonist, but it also narrates the French revolution, the sudden absence of Napoleon from the french world within which the protagonist falls in love and out of it. 


The Quiet American by Graham Greene is one such exceptionally told story which contextualizes the murder of an idealist, tentatively a propagandist, American, Alden Pyle in Vietnam, struggling between an absolutist communist and a fierce democratic ideology struggling for space in Vietnam. The story does not float in the dark, unknown skies like floating candle with no connect with the Earth over which it hovers, rather it settles down with its weight in the marshy farms of Vietnam, where amid physical violence of the war, also plays the ideological war of the Americans. The young diplomat, Alden Pyle, supposedly working to create a middle-path arrives in the war-torn Vietnam and befriends the narrator, middle-aged and cynical war-correspondent Thomas Fowler. Here is Fowler describing the naive, plush wide-eyed idealistic admiration for someone like York Harding-

"I was to learn later that he had enormous respect for what he called serious writers. That term excluded Novelists, poets and dramatists unless they had what he called a contemporary theme." 


 A young, rich and well-connected Pyle wins over the native girl, Phuong with the false promise of marriage and a great life in America. Pyle, a fan and admirer of York Harding, an ideologue and writer, eventually turns out to be an under-cover operative getting weapons and explosive into Vietnam. The story ends with the murder of Pyle. 


Through the wonderfully told story, full of aphorism and words of wisdom, we find the conspiracy of media and politics unraveling. We understand how those reporting the news grow too big for themselves and begin to believe themselves to be the News. While we may not be in a physical war now, there are multiple wars unfolding, numerous battlefields in operation, and it is a great book to understand how media, at times, work not only as a tool to the politics; many a times, it tries to use politics as its tool. Fowler calls it out when angered and frustrated (suddenly I was angry; I was tired of the whole pack of them with their private stores of Coca-Cola and their portable hospitals and their too wide cars) at the loss of young life of Pyle, he tells the Economic Attach`e 
referring to Pyle- 


'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 book on 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 I read this, I think of JNU, when I read of York Harding, I think of Chomsky, writing open letters based on fake, manipulative news articles. And I think of numerous Indian journalists and media personalities when I read Fowler deliberating on his own- 

"He's a superior sort of journalist- they call them diplomatic Correspondents. He gets hold of an idea and then alters every situation to fit the idea." 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

बुद्धिजीवियों की बारात

बुद्धिजीवियों की बारात
शरद जी रिटायर हो चुके थे। आधार का भय आधारहीन मान कर आधार बनवा चुके थे, और पेंशन प्राप्त कर के भोपाल मे जीवनयापन कर रहे थे। एक बार बिहार जा कर शरद जी नरभसा चुके थे, पुन: नरभसाने का कोई इरादा था नहीं, सो मामाजी के राज में स्वयं को सीमित कर के रखे हुए थे। इस्लाम आज कल ख़तरे मे नही आता था, संभवत: इमर्जेंसी के बाद से, इस्लाम सबल हो चुका था, और कल निपचती जींस और लोकतंत्र के ख़तरे मे रहने का दौर चल रहा था। न्यू मार्केट के कॉफ़ी हाऊस मे चंद बुद्धिजीवी लोकतंत्र पर आए संकट पर चर्चा कर लेते थे, जोशी जी वहाँ भी नहीं जाते थे। एक दफे वहाँ के मलियाली वेटर्स को जोशी जी के हिंदी लेखक होने का पता चल गया और उन्होंने जोशीजी को यिंदी यिम्पोजीशन के विरोध मे कॉफ़ी देने से मना कर दिया था। कहाँ शरदजी सरस्वती से ब्रह्मप्रदेश तक लिखना चाहते थे और कहाँ उन्हे बड़े तालाब के उत्तर भाग का लेखक घोषित कर दिया गया था। इस से क्षुब्ध जोशी जी अपने बग़ीचे मे टमाटर उगा रहे थे। जानने वाले कहते हैं कि इसके पीछे उनकी मँशा महान किसान नेता बन कर उभरने की थी, किंतु उन्हे पता चला कि आधुनिक किसान नेता किसानों को …

दो जोड़ी नन्ही आँखें

अनदेखे ख़्वाबों की दो जोड़ी नन्हीआँखें, जिन्होंने स्वप्न देखने की आयु से पूर्व दु:स्वप्न देख आँखें मूँद लीं। जो क़दम अभी चलना ही सीखे थे, लड़खड़ा कर थम गए।
बचपन के घुटने पर लगी हर खरोंच, व्यस्कों के गाल पर एक तमाचा है।

धर्म के आडंबरों से अछूता बाल मन जो मंदिरों और मस्जिदों को अपनी आत्मा में रखता था, धर्म की दरारों पर अपना नन्हा शव छोड़ निकल पड़ा। कहीं दूर,दग्ध शरीर के ताप से दूर, जब यह अकलुषित हृदय पहुँचा तो एक और निष्पाप दूधिया आत्मा दिखी, जिसकी पलकों के कोरों में उसकी आँखों के जैसे ही अविश्वास से सहमा हुआ अश्रु रूका था।

एक दूसरे के गले लग कर दोनों बाल मन दरिया के टूटे बाँध की तरह बह निकले। घाव बाँटे, एक दूसरे के हृदय में चुभी धरती की किरचें निकाली और न देखे हुए स्वप्नों का श्राद्ध रचा।

उसने थमती हिचकियों में अपना नाम बताया - ‘आसिफा’।

और दुख के साथी की ठोड़ी थाम कर कहा - ‘मत रो, न्याय होगा।’

धरती की तरफ़ नन्ही गुलाबी उँगली दिखा कर कहा- “देख, भले लोग लड़ रहे है मेरे लिए, न्याय होगा। तेरे लिये भी लड़ रहे होंगे। तू मत रो”

फिर बोली, “मैं पश्चिम से हूँ, तू पूरब से, पर हैं तो दोनों बच्चे। …

About Mahakali- The Eternal Mother

The strongest aspect of a woman, uncontested, unwinnable for a man is motherhood. Kali is the eternal, divine mother. She represents the silent darkness of the time when nothing was there, and from there, from darkness, from nothingness, she shaped life. She is every woman, every mother, which stands in darkness, so much so that she herself becomes darkness (Kali~ Darkness) and creates life, beholds life, births life and nourishes life. The light emerges from the darkness, and the colors rise from the lack of colors. She is the dark womb from where the feeble light of human life takes first breath. She is the consort of Mahakaal (Kaal-Death), Shiva- The lord of death, Mahakali. She is death. Hinduism celebrates life as well as death. Death being the moment, where we clean our slates and start afresh. Therefore, both death as well as life are intermingled, interconnected and interchangeable in their meaning. Death can be looked at as the end of life; can also be looked at as the beginn…