Jon's Reviews > The Comedians

The Comedians by Graham Greene
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's review
Mar 31, 2009

really liked it
Read in May, 2009

This book is Greene at his best. It seems darker to me than some of his other books - which is saying something since Greene, though humorous, is not "light". Very much good reading for an understanding of what happens in developing countries (or what used to be called the Third World) as they try and "modernize" or come into their own as independent nations that were formerly colonies of European powers.

Also an interesting cast of characters though, perhaps, a little too in the Greene mold, but still well-written without offering much of a glimmer of hope. The protagonist moves from being, at the beginning of the novel, the morally and ethically compromised owner of a hotel with aspirations in Haiti which he inherits from his estranged mother to being a partner in a mortuary business by the novel's close.

Please understand when I say "morally and ethically compromised" that this is not a judgment made from a position of implied moral or ethical superiority (or "purity"), but rather the natural state of things in the world of Greene who understands and accepts the flaws in human beings while still believing devoutly in his Catholicism. This is the heart of the matter for Greene, I think, there is SOME good and at times we make alliances or form relationships that further the "good", but the trend is much toward the other direction - corruption, decay, and a retreat into solipsism. Though Greene clearly understands there is nothing in the material life that will give comfort to the thinking or creative person more than contact with others of a similar nature and at least making an attempt at recreating the world as we wish it would be rather than as it really is.

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