A Review of Graham Greene's The Comedians

Essay by midlifecrisisCollege, Undergraduate April 2002

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The Comedians


Graham Greene

Comedian: a writer of comedies, an actor who plays comic roles, a comic individual?

The irony in naming a book based on the ugliest dictatorship in Haitian history The Comedians is typical of the author. From what I have read about him this irony and his almost prophetic ability to see future events is a trademark. The characters pre-occupation with an American invasion did in fact come to pass. He did this previously in a book I have not yet read "The Quiet American" in which it is said he predicted our involvement in Vietnam.

The matter of factness with which the brutality is portrayed makes it clear just how callous the Tontons Macoute were, and how hard life must have been for the ordinary Haitian under Papa Doc. Mr. Greene was a well traveled man whom I am sure was relating these horrible facts of life from firsthand experience.

There is also a comic trait to the Tontons Macoute, they wear their sunglasses at all times, even at night.

Our main characters, Mr. Brown a man without country that has come to inherit a second rate hotel from his missing mother; Mr. Jones, a Britisher on the run from past misdeeds living on his wits, and the Smiths' a couple of evangelical vegetarians with a frustrating yet endearing inability to see anything but good intent in everyone.

They are linked at many levels by essentially the same thing, they are all rootless, they all failed in the attempt to accomplish something of major importance to them before they meet, and they are all somehow disconnected from reality. The Smiths' with there Vegetarian center, Mr. Brown with his self-centeredness and self destructive affairs, and Mr. Jones' insistence on trying to make a quick buck...