The Quiet American

by Graham Greene… A book which views life from behind very dark glasses.

  • The human condition being what it was, let them fight, let them love, let them murder, I would not be involved. My fellow journalists called themselves correspondents; I preferred the title of reporter. I wrote what I saw: I took no action — even an opinion is a kind of action.
  • […] I had been examining Pyle’s innocent question: ‘Are you playing straight?’ It belonged to a psychological world of great simplicity, where you talked of Democracy and Honor without the u as it’s spelt on old tombstones, and you meant what your father meant by the same words.
  • […] we make a cage for air with holes, I thought, and man makes a cage for his religion in much the same way — with doubts left open to the weather and creeds opening on innumerable interpretations.
  • Thought’s a luxury. Do you think the peasant sits and thinks of God and Democracy when he gets inside his mud hut at night?
  • […] voices have a colour too, yellow voices sing and black voices gargle, while ours just speak […]
  • It is odd how reassuring conversation is, especially on abstract subjects: it seems to normalise the strangest surroundings.
  • We are fools […] when we love. I was terrified of losing her. I thought I saw her changing — I don’t know if she really was, but I couldn’t bear the uncertainty any longer. I ran towards the finish just like a coward runs towards the enemy and wins a medal. I wanted to get death over.
  • To be in love is to see yourself as someone else sees you, it is to be in love with the falsified and exalted image of yourself.
  • If only it were possible to love without injury — fidelity isn’t enough […]. The hurt is in the act of possession: we are too small in mind and body to possess another person without pride or to be possessed without humiliation.
  • Silence like a plant put out tendrils: it seemed to grow under the door and spread its leaves in the room where I stood.
  • I never like giving information to the police. It saves them trouble.
  • Loneliness lay in my bed and I took loneliness into my arms at night.
  • […] there was no way to get out: you were trapped with your experience. […] All was feeling now, nothing was sight. […] For forty seconds Pyle had not existed: even loneliness hadn’t existed.
  • […] you can’t blame the innocent, they are always guiltless. All you can do is control them or eliminate them. Innocence is a kind of insanity.
  • Suffering is not increased by numbers: one body can contain all the suffering the world can feel.
  • Sooner or later, […] one has to take sides. If one is to remain human.

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