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Journey Without Maps
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Graham Greene > Journey Without Maps Part One

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message 1: by Betty (last edited Sep 17, 2012 05:22PM) (new)

Betty (olderthan18) | 617 comments The Way of Africa--The Cargo Ship--The Home from Home

message 2: by Betty (last edited Sep 23, 2012 09:11PM) (new)

Betty (olderthan18) | 617 comments The Way of Africa

Greene's preliminary preparations are finding the Liberian consul to secure the proper passport seals for entering Liberia at a lawful port of entry.

Such a port also exists in the psychological sense--an embarcation from a modernized ethos into an earlier stage of civilization. His rationale is to discover where civilized man veered toward the worse instead of the better.
"...[W]hen one sees to what unhappiness, to what peril of extinction centuries of cerebration have brought us, one sometimes has a curiosity to...recall at which point we went astray.
His and his cousin Barbara Greene's only remaining business now is to remain the night in quiet Liverpool at a comfortable hotel so as to embark the next day on a cargo ship.

message 3: by Betty (last edited Sep 24, 2012 09:50AM) (new)

Betty (olderthan18) | 617 comments The Cargo Ship--Madeira

In this story, Madeira is both the group of Portuguese islands, one of which is Madeira Island, and the fortified wine of the region.

Greene is travelling by cargo ship with a few other passengers around 1935. Among them is his cousin Barbara Greene and the artist who will illustrate Greene's book about Liberia. Greene makes cultural references to specific European writers, musical songs, and artists. He mentions in passing the Great Depression, which lasted from 1929 through at least the 1930s.

About reading and drinking, he observes, each is the result of
"...a whole industry founded on a want of leisure and a want of happiness."

message 4: by Betty (last edited Sep 24, 2012 09:50AM) (new)

Betty (olderthan18) | 617 comments The Cargo Ship--Ballyhoo; Las Palmas; Graveyard; Dakar; The Shape of Africa

In an out-of-way cinema, Greene sees a film of his Orient Express (Stamboul Train) and recalls the "American ballyhoo" for the film. The cinematic version misrepresented some of his intentions.

The ship stops in the Canary Islands, its passengers' identities gradually revealed. Another stop is Dakar, Senegal. Greene refers to a poem of Charles Baudelaire, "L'invitation au voyage". It beautifully depicts the city of Dakar. Then, there is René Clair, the French film director of the 1930s, who directed "Le Million", and Geoffrey Gorer's Africa Dances, the latter differently depicting Dakar as a place of deaths on account "of inanition, of hopelessness", a darkness Greene finds in Cecil Day-Lewis's poetry book "From Feathers to Iron" (1931),
"Do not expect again a phoenix hour,
The triple-towered sky, the dove complaining,
Sudden the rain of gold and heart's first ease
Traced under trees by the eldritch light of sundown."
The montage of the last section, The Shape of Africa, brings together West Africa and
Berlin of the 1930s, the Ugly-Wuglies of the children's book The Enchanted Castle, and the Jack-in-the-Green costume on May Day. Understanding the meaning of Greene's text is sometimes difficult because of those pinpoints of cultural reference. At this point of the memoir, Greene's idea of his destination is
"Africa, not a particular place, but a shape, a strangeness, a wanting to know. The unconscious mind is often sentimental; I have written 'a shape', and the shape, of course is roughly that of the human heart."

message 5: by Betty (last edited Sep 24, 2012 09:50AM) (new)

Betty (olderthan18) | 617 comments The Home from Home--Freetown

Greene starts out in Freetown, Britain's colonial capital in Sierra Leone without enthusiasm for colonialism:
"...if there was anything beautiful in the place it was native..."
Resourceful Sierra Leoneans could earn money. For example, enterprising Bungie operated the "British-African Workmen Store". One of his advertisements was
"Do not live like a fool and die like a big fool. Eat and drink good stuff, save small, be praying for a happy death, than a decent funeral. Bungie will do the rest."

message 6: by Betty (last edited Sep 24, 2012 09:57AM) (new)

Betty (olderthan18) | 617 comments The Home from Home--The City Bar; No Screws Unturned

Effect of the Great Depression on SL (about bottom of page 43).

First mention of Paramount Chief Nimley of the Sasstown Tube, who led a rebellion on the coast in 1932. He went into hiding from Colonel Elwood Davis, special agent of the Frontier Force.

Greene's unmapped journey is very vague in his mind
"...the only way to travel is to know the next town or village ahead and repeat it as you go...

"...the vagueness of my ideas when I landed at Freetown."

message 7: by Betty (last edited Sep 24, 2012 09:58AM) (new)

Betty (olderthan18) | 617 comments The Home from Home--The Three Companions; Up to Railroad; Border Town

Just after the year 1800, Britain established a Colony on Sierra Leone's coast at Freetown. By the end of that century, it also established a Protectorate in the interior of Sierra Leone. Greene finds that each of them has a different effect on him. Besides Barbara Greene, Greene will be accompanied on the journey from Sierra Leone through the Republic (Liberia) and parts of French Guinea by Amedoo, Laminah, and the cook Souri. From Freetown, a two-day journey by rail and lorry takes them to the border town of Kailahun.

Greene is experiencing a new place, finding that "... the etiquette of travel in wild places is as exacting as the etiquette of a new club": the dash, the proper centre train compartment, the aloof handshake. Being dashed means to accept a gift for which the receiver returns a higher value in coins.
"This question of dashes was a complicated one; in the course of the journey we found ourselves dashed not merely the usual chicken (value 6d. or 9d. according to quality; return dash, which should always slightly exceed the true value, 1s. or 1s. 3d.), eggs (return dash 1d. each), oranges and bananas (value about forty for 3d; return dash 6d.), but a goat, a dancing monkey, a bundle of knives, a leather pouch, and innumerable gourds of palm wine. It was not always easy to calculate the value, and it was a long time before I overcame my reluctance to press a shilling into a chief's hand."
At the border, Greene meets a returning German traveler, who has been collecting, not Liberian diamonds and precious metals, but material for a thesis.

message 8: by Betty (new)

Betty (olderthan18) | 617 comments Home from Home--Freedom to Travel; To the Frontier; The Way Back

Greene enjoys the freedom of travel along the river and through the bush by a cleared path. There are "no passports, no Customs, no barriers to wandering tribesmen". He loses the european sense of
"...time as a measured and recorded period...In the interior there was no such thing as time..."
It was important to carry the right amount of "lightness"--necessities for survival in the hinterland. Greene's expedition makes twelve miles per day in four weeks and starts with twenty-five carriers.

He remembers "...the holy and the depraved individualists" in Britain: Major Grant, Miss Kilvane, who had an obsession with the prophetess Joanna Southcott, and Mr Charles Seitz, who had gone mad. In Liberia, he finds "the old, the unfamiliar, the communal life beyond the clearing."

Marieke | 58 comments Asmah-- I am wondering if you have plans to read Barbara's account of this journey?

message 10: by Betty (new)

Betty (olderthan18) | 617 comments Hi, Marieke,
I intend to read Graham Greene's version of the trip. I will add a topic for his cousin's version: Too Late to Turn Back: Barbara and Graham Greene in Liberia. He hardly mentions her in Journey without Maps.

There's a related memoir, Chasing The Devil: A Journey Through Sub Saharan Africa In The Footsteps Of Graham Greene, too.

Are you planning to read Barbara Greene's version?

Marieke | 58 comments I requested her book from the collection at work because I am curious about it. It's short so even if it's boring I think I will read it. I'm also looking forward to reading Tim Butcher's book.

As well as about six other books about Liberia!!

message 12: by Betty (new)

Betty (olderthan18) | 617 comments I figured out that you are voraciously reading about that part of the world, Marieke. Is that interest related to work?

Marieke | 58 comments Asma wrote: "I figured out that you are voraciously reading about that part of the world, Marieke. Is that interest related to work?"

um, sort of...i do in fact do a lot of research on Africa topics. when i got my first such project it was around the time my dad moved to Kenya. so i started seriously delving into African literature and haven't stopped since. i am hooked. I mean, i had read some in college, but this time around i've gone totally crazy with it. :)

and my interest is sincere (and not limited to just books); it's bonus that all this reading helps me feel more comfortable whenever i get assigned a new project related to Africa. i notice that i get more stressed when i have to do something on a part of the world i don't have much familiarity with.

Marieke | 58 comments so i'm about 90 pages in and i need to go back and pull out some quotes that were intriguing to me.

message 15: by Betty (new)

Betty (olderthan18) | 617 comments Marieke, Thank you for your response about the two Greene memoirs and about your deep interest in African books and life.

I added a quote from the end of 'Western Liberia'. Greene describes how his Catholic confession recalled his earliest memories. His irreverent description of the priests is coupled with raunchy bits of secular life. Some humor there in his viewpoint.

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