Graham Greene and The Quiet American
main character in a novel must necessarily have some kinship to the author,
Graham Greene (1904-1991) Biographical Timeline
According to Melody Yiu, Greene achieved notoriety in his personal life. . . . He had many extra-marital affairs, and confessed he was a bad husband and a fickle lover, although he never revealed his affairs in his two autobiographies. In 1951, the public's reaction to The End of the Affair put Greene on the cover of Time magazine over the caption "Adultery can lead to sainthood." Yiu says that Greene "took little pains to disguise the fact that the novel was based on his own affair with Lady Catherine Walston, who also did not appear disturbed by the book. The British edition of the novel is dedicated to 'C' while the American version is made out to 'Catherine'." In his autobiography, Greene says, "The main character in a novel must necessarily have some kinship to the author, they come out of his body as a child comes from the womb, then the umbilical cord is cut, and they grow into independence. The more the author knows of his own character the more he can distance himself from his invented characters and the more room they have to grow in" (Ways of Escape, 8).
novel was eventually noticed in the New Yorker the reviewer condemned
me for accusing my "best friends" (the Americans) of murder
since I had attributed to them the responsibility for the great explosion
-- far worse than the trivial bicycle bombs -- in the main square of Saigon
when many people lost their lives. But what are the facts, of which the
reviewer needless to say was ignorant? The Life photographer at
the moment of the explosion was so well placed that he was able to take
an astonishing and horrifying photograph which showed the body of a trishaw
driver still upright after his legs had been blown off. This photograph
was reproduced in an American propaganda magazine published in Manila
over the title "the work of Ho Chi Minh" although General Thé
had promptly and proudly claimed the bomb as his own. Who had supplied
the material to a bandit who was fighting French, Caodaists and Communists?
there is more direct rapportage in the The Quiet American than
in any other novel I have written. I had determined to employ again the
experience I had gained with The End of the Affair in the use of
the first person and the time shift, and my choice of a journalist as
the "I" seemed to me to justify the use of rapportage. The Press
conference is not the only example of direct reporting. I was in the dive
bomber (the pilot had broken an order of General de Lattre by taking me)
which attacked the Viet Minh post and I was on the patrol of the Foreign
Legion paras outside Phat Diem. I still retain the sharp image of the
dead child couched in the ditch beside his dead mother. The very neatness
of their bullet wounds made their death more disturbing than the indiscriminate
massacre in the canals around.
--from Ways of Escape, pp.139-140.