The Comedians

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Overview

Three men meet on a ship bound for Haiti, a world in the grip of the corrupt "Papa Doc" and the Tontons Macoute, his sinister secret police. Brown the hotelier, Smith the innocent American, and Jones the confidence man - these are the "comedians" of the title. Hiding behind their actors' masks, they hesitate on the edge of life. And, to begin with, they are men afraid of love, afraid of pain, afraid of fear itself.
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Overview

Three men meet on a ship bound for Haiti, a world in the grip of the corrupt "Papa Doc" and the Tontons Macoute, his sinister secret police. Brown the hotelier, Smith the innocent American, and Jones the confidence man - these are the "comedians" of the title. Hiding behind their actors' masks, they hesitate on the edge of life. And, to begin with, they are men afraid of love, afraid of pain, afraid of fear itself.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Greene's 1967 novel features three characters-a hotelier, an American idealist, and a confidence man-en route to the corrupt Haiti of Papa Doc. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
"Graham Greene arouses responses of curiosity and attention comparable to those set up by Malraux... Faulkner and Hemingway."
—New Statesman
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140184945
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/5/1991
  • Series: Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics Series
  • Edition description: REISSUE
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.16 (w) x 7.72 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Meet the Author

Graham Greene (1904-1991) was a prolific novelist, short story writer, travel writer and children's book writer. Many of his novels and short stories have been successfully adapted to the movie screen, including The Third Man (directed by Orson Welles), The End of The Affair, and The Quiet American

Biography

Known for his espionage thrillers set in exotic locales, Graham Greene is the writer who launched a thousand travel journalists. But although Greene produced some unabashedly commercial works -- he called them "entertainments," to distinguish them from his novels -- even his escapist fiction is rooted in the gritty realities he encountered around the globe. "Greeneland" is a place of seedy bars and strained loyalties, of moral dissolution and physical decay.

Greene spent his university years at Oxford "drunk and debt-ridden," and claimed to have played Russian roulette as an antidote to boredom. At age 21 he converted to Roman Catholicism, later saying, "I had to find a religion...to measure my evil against." His first published novel, The Man Within, did well enough to earn him an advance from his publishers, but though Greene quit his job as a Times subeditor to write full-time, his next two novels were unsuccessful. Finally, pressed for money, he set out to write a work of popular fiction. Stamboul Train (also published as The Orient Express) was the first of many commercial successes.

Throughout the 1930s, Greene wrote novels, reviewed books and movies for the Spectator, and traveled through eastern Europe, Liberia, and Mexico. One of his best-known works, Brighton Rock, was published during this time; The Power and the Glory, generally considered Greene's masterpiece, appeared in 1940. Along with The Heart of the Matter and The End of the Affair, they cemented Greene's reputation as a serious novelist -- though George Orwell complained about Greene's idea "that there is something rather distingué in being damned; Hell is a sort of high-class nightclub, entry to which is reserved for Catholics only."

During World War II, Greene was stationed in Sierra Leone, where he worked in an intelligence capacity for the British Foreign Office under Kim Philby, who later defected to the Soviet Union. After the war, Greene continued to write stories, plays, and novels, including The Quiet American, Travels with My Aunt, The Honorary Consul, and The Captain and the Enemy. For a time, he worked as a screenwriter for MGM, producing both original screenplays and scripts adapted from his fiction.

He also continued to travel, reporting from Vietnam, Haiti, and Panama, among other places, and he became a vocal critic of U.S. foreign policy in Central America. Some biographers have suggested that his friendships with Communist leaders were a ploy, and that he was secretly gathering intelligence for the British government. The more common view is that Greene's leftist leanings were part of his lifelong sympathy with the world's underdogs -- what John Updike called his "will to compassion, an ideal communism even more Christian than Communist. Its unit is the individual, not any class."

But if Greene's politics were sometimes difficult to decipher, his stature as a novelist has seldom been in doubt, in spite of the light fiction he produced. Kingsley Amis, Evelyn Waugh, and R. K. Narayan paid tribute to his work, and William Golding prophesied: "He will be read and remembered as the ultimate chronicler of twentieth-century man's consciousness and anxiety."

Good To Know

Greene's philandering ways were legendary; he frequently visited prostitutes and had several mistresses, including Catherine Walston, who converted to Catholicism after reading The Power and the Glory and wrote to Greene asking him to be her godfather. After a brief period of correspondence, the two met, and their relationship inspired Greene's novel The End of the Affair.

Greene was a film critic, screenwriter, and avid moviegoer, and critics have sometimes praised the cinematic quality of his style. His most famous screenplay was The Third Man, which he cowrote with director Carol Reed. Recently, new film adaptations have been made of Greene's novels The End of the Affair and The Quiet American. Greene's work has also formed the basis for an opera: Our Man in Havana, composed by Malcolm Williamson.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Henry Graham Greene (birth name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 2, 1904
    2. Place of Birth:
      Berkhamsted, England
    1. Date of Death:
      April 3, 1991
    2. Place of Death:
      Vevey, Switzerland

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 28, 2009

    If you're curious about Haiti and how it got this way......

    I like Graham Greene, but don't love him. His characters seem more interesting than his plots, and so they don't always develop as fully as I hope. And parts of his books seem slow. But I am always glad I read a book by Greene in the end. I know I learned something and I always feel the stories are so real that he must have witnessed them. I bought "The Comedians" because I am very curious about Haiti and how it went from the country it once was (in my lifetime), to the one it is today. This story revolves around Haiti during the regime of Papa Doc through the experiences of expats in a country they had once enjoyed and now found horribly changed. And the plot takes the main character through a dangerously, yet thrilling, attempt to play a hand in Haiti's future. As usual, none of Greene's characters are pure or fully heroic; they all have their flaws and limitations. But as I came to know them I found I liked them anyway and, though I know how Haiti turned out, rooted for them to do some good. By the last third of the book, I could not put it down, and the last few chapters were far more surprising and exciting, even hopeful, than I could have imagined. But the sheer helplessness I felt at the end of this book, written decades ago, foretold the Haiti we see today.....as if he knew.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted April 29, 2009

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    Posted October 7, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2010

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