Eric Skillman's Reviews > The Comedians

The Comedians by Graham Greene
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's review
Aug 21, 2007

really liked it
Recommended for: lapsed Caribbean literature majors
Read in August, 2007

I finally watched The Third Man over the weekend and really enjoyed it, so I figured I'd try out some more Graham Greene (who I've never read before). Picked this one up because of it's excellent Geoff Grandfield cover illustration.

EDIT: Having finished it, I definitely enjoyed it. (Even if the comp lit major in me couldn't help noting that, for a novel set in Haiti, it has a pretty white cast.) It's certainly thought-provoking in an allegorical way—up until the last 10 pages or so, I had been interpreting it as a condemnation of futile world-saving impulses; an examination of the dangers of imagining one has a starring role in history. But by the end Greene turns that on its ear and celebrates much of what he's previously satirized—or at least presents it as a desirable alternative to inaction and apathy.

I found particularly interesting the sweetly sympathetic characterizations of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, the well-meaning but naive American activists. Greene really nails the particular brand of cynical naiveté that sees injustice and corruption everywhere but attributes it all to a single cause—in this case, they see the "acidity" brought on by eating meat as the root cause of human aggression—thereby simplifying the world's problems to the point where one man could theoretically solve them.

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message 1: by Melissa (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:18PM) (new)

Melissa The only Graham Greene I've read is The Heart of the Matter which I interpreted to be more about extreme Catholic guilt & sexual priggishness than colonialism (but then, I was never a comp lit major!) There was very little funny about this book--in fact, I found it horridly depressing (as opposed to Jimmy Corrigan which is horribly & wonderfully depressing). I'm intrigued by The Comedians... perhaps I've prematurely written Greene off as a sad-sack?

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