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Journey Without Maps
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Graham Greene > Journey Without Maps Part Two

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message 1: by Betty (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 617 comments Western Liberia--His Excellency the President--Into Buzie Country--Black Montparnasse


message 2: by Betty (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 617 comments Western Liberia

Encountering Customs, Greene feels that he "was completely in their power". Because of so many goods of yet-to-be-determined value, they let him off with a deposit for now.

Greene is apprehensive before he arrives at Bolahun. Yet, he finds a comfortable place and courteous, honest people, who are situated by a hill and stream. Like the villagers, the people of the mission also are honest, though they'd made few conversions because there were no material benefits to be had from it.

Greene accepts the request of the student Mark to come on the expedition. The boy attends a bush school which initiates students into the secret rites of passage and confines them at the school over several years.

Greene particularly observes the local Big Bush devil of Bolahun, whose masked dance is preceded by ceremonies, dancing, drumming, rattles, and other music. This devil is the disguised village's blacksmith, whose ceremonial utterances are interpreted to the community. The dancer reminds Greene of England's 'Jack-in-the-Green', who heralds springtime's return.

On a night before departure, from Bolahun, Greene attends a concert by the harpist Gissi. He's reluctant to leave as the native huts of the hinterland are less comfortable and are open to even more insects and rodents.

Two eerie occurrences are that the chiefs dislike a cruel District Commissioner and the President is assassinated.

Greene carries from Bolahun these memories.
"These were what I remembered most clearly through the monotony of the forest: the lovely swooping flight of the small bright rice-birds, the fragil yellow cotton flowers growing with no stalk directly out of the canes, something like a wild rose, transparent primrose petals with a small red centre and a black stamen; butterflies, palms, goats and rocks and great straight silver cotton trees, and through the canes the graceful walking women with baskets on their heads. This was what I carried with me into new country, an instinctive simplicity, a thoughtless idealism.
This part of Liberia reminds him of Riga, Lithuania, post-WW1 and -revolution, and of Nottingham, England, when he'd been twenty-one.


message 3: by Betty (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 617 comments His Excellency the President

Greene meets the President of the country, who's more or less its first dictator.

Greene reaches the Liberian town of Kpanblamai, "following roughly the route which Sir Alfred Sharpe took in his journey through Liberia in 1919." He enjoys the artful mask of the dancing Devil (another blacksmith), visits the town's extensive crafts, and hears a monotonous orchestra. The heat is the bane of daytime.

Greene thinks that he is heading to Dagomai but winds up in Duogobmai.
"Dagomai, Dagomai, I kept on repeating in the hope that somebody would have heard of the place. Presently 'Duogobmai,' the chief said doubtfully. It sounded very nearly right, it was on the way to Nicoboozu, and I decided that it must be the place the doctor had meant."
On the way to Duogomai, Greene's entourage stops in Pandemai. From there, the trek is seven more hours for the heavily-laden carriers, crossing a swaying, gappy, bridge of entwined creepers over the Loffa River during the pitch of night before reaching the unsanitary destination.
"I had been afraid of the primitive, had wanted it broken gently, but here it came on us in a breath, as we stumbled up through the dung and the cramped and stinking huts to out lampless sleeping place among the rats. It was the worst one need fear, and it was bearable because it was inescapable."
By contrast, the next destination Nicoboozu turns out to be extremely habitable.


message 4: by Betty (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 617 comments Into Buzie Country

Before Nicoboozu, Greene stays in that "horrible village" of ugliness, whisky, cockroaches, and rats. Yet, that "strangeness" is akin to "happiness".

Deeper into Buzie country, Greene reaches Nicoboozu, meeting its verified fourth lieutenant and its "incurious" chief, then heads to Zigita, a habitable place ridden with "witchcraft and fear" yet untouched by outsiders at two thousand feet high and protected by the rebounding dense forest .

Though Greene himself is courageously defiant to the orders of Zigita's town crier, his superstitious men and carriers believe that they will go blind, if they look at the devil's passage through the village, and that the devil hears everything said. The headman of the The Big Bush Devil sells swords to them, frightening Laminah. After two nights of his disobedience, Greene partially believes the superstition. His group makes a hasty departure to Zorzor to avoid the devil's retaliation.

At Zorzor, Mrs Croup invites Greene to stay in a house of the Lutheran mission though he discovers cockroaches. So far, many of his accommodations would be considered uninhabitable.
"This...seemed to be what I would chiefly remember as Africa: cockroaches eating our clothes, rats on the floor, ants fastening on the flesh. But, in retrospect even the cockroaches seem only the badge of an unconquered virginity, 'never sacked, turned, nor wrought'."
Those last words show Greene must have read "RALEIGH'S (OWN ACCOUNT) DISCOVERY OF GUIANA",
"...Guiana is a country that hath yet her maidenhead, never sacked, turned, nor wrought; the face of the earth hath not been torn, nor the virtue and salt of the soil spent by manurance. The graves have not been opened for gold, the mines not broken with sledges, nor their images pulled down out of their temples. It hath never been entered by any army of strength, and never conquered or possessed by any Christian prince. It is besides so defensible,..."
In the next chapter, the two dozen carriers strike.


message 5: by Betty (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 617 comments Black Montparnasse

Montparnasse (=an area of Paris, FR) is Greene's title for French Guinea.

Uncertain distances between towns bring the carriers to the brink of mutiny. Getting to know who can be trusted, Greene uses bluff to avert the crisis. He grows accustomed to carrier's off-and-on squabbling. Another averted crisis is the temporary separation of his and his cousin's caravan.

Unlike Liberia, French Guinea has traders, manufactured exports, and rest-houses (in varied repair), though neither hinterland sees tourists.

They stop in Bamakama and Galaye and head to Ganta, crossing the St Paul River. Except for the waters' penetrating worms, it so lacks dangerous, wild animals and flourishing flora that he calls it the "dead forest"; the nighttime dancing and rattling is emotionally remote to him as he reads the verse.
"Te sine, væ misero mihi, lilia nigra videntur,
Pallentesque rosæ, nec dulce rubens hyacinthus,
Nullos nec myrtus, nec laurus spirat odores."

(Calphurnius Græcus. "Without thee, ah! wretched me, the lilies lose their whiteness, the roses become pallid, the hyacinths forget to blush; neither the myrtle nor the laurel retains its colours.")"
By the eleventh day with eyes fixed on the foot-wide jutted path, he is trying to "occupy" his thoughts, feeling
"no one had ever transferred to this forest any human emotion at all...it was impossible here to think of Nature in such terms of enchantment and nostalgia; it would have been like cherishing a dead weed in a pot, a sign of mental derangement."
They continue on to Pala, Bamou, Djiecke, where there's French wine and hint of unseasonal rain, and to Ganta.


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