Neil's Reviews > Journey Without Maps

Journey Without Maps by Graham Greene
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Mar 22, 12

Read in March, 2012

"The responsibility of the journey had been mine… and now my mind had almost ceased to function. I simply couldn’t believe that we should ever reach Grand Bassa, that I had ever led a life different from this life"
(page 215)

That’s how Graham Greene felt about the interior of Liberia and that’s how I felt about his book. Green doesn’t so much describe the weariness of his adventure as impose it upon the reader. Reading this book feels much like being enveloped by post-lunch lethargy in a government ministry in Freetown, except it lasts longer. Greene focuses largely upon himself, be he walking drinking or being surrounded by cockroaches and rats. He writes about the interiors of Sierra Leone and Liberia constantly, while failing to convey much of interest. Any pressure I felt to like this book because it is by a big name author was quickly overwhelmed by my boredom.

Greene does, however, make some insightful observations that I think might be described as ahead of his time. These seem as relevant today as they were in the 1930s:

"Everything ugly in Freetown was European"
(page 37)

"There is something very attractive in this great patch of “freedom to travel”; absconding financiers might do worse than take to the African bush"
(page 61)

"There was a cruelty in the interior, but had we done wisely exchanging the supernatural cruelty for our own?"
(page 228)

But Greene should have had the decency to take my approach and put these observations into bullet points. As it is there are too sparsely scattered to outweigh the rest of this uninterestingly written diary.

Thank goodness it’s over.
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