Introduction The world in which we live is at crossroads of sorts. On the one hand, peoples and societies attempt to assert their identities, while on the other, these very peoples and societies must invariably make do with rapprochement, by virtue of the simple logic of living, acting and interacting together. This write-up therefore sets out to examine Leonora Mianos novel, La saison de lombre, through the prism of Edouard Glissants concept of creolisation. A brief summary of the novel will be given, after which a brief presentation will be made of the analytical approach used in this work. Leonora Miano was born in Douala-Cameroon in to a middle class family; her mother was a principal, while her father was a pharmacist. The young Miano developed a liking for books because her literate parents were equally book lovers.
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Print Send Add Share. Nijhoff Creation Date: Frequency: Four no. Part A. Part B. Twentieth century abstracts Language: Dutch or English. Dates or Sequential Designation: This item may or may not be protected by copyright in the country where it was produced. Users of this work have responsibility for determining copyright status prior to reusing, publishing or reproducing this item for purposes other than what is allowed by applicable law, including any applicable international copyright treaty or fair use or fair dealing statutes, which dLOC partners have explicitly supported and endorsed.
Any reuse of this item in excess of applicable copyright exceptions may require permission. Seven days later Greene arrived in Havana with Carol Reed to arrange for the filming of the script of the novel, on which they had both been work ing.
Meanwhile, after his defeat of the summer offensive mounted by the Cuban dictator, Fulgencio Batista, in the mountains of eastern Cuba, just south of Bayamo, Fidel Castro had recently taken the military initiative: the day after Greene and Reeds arrival on the island, Che Guevara reached Las Villas, moving westwards towards Havana. Six weeks later, on January 1, , after Batista had fled the island, Castro and his Cuban Revolution took power.
A note at the beginning of the film says that it is set before the recent revolution. In terms of timing, Our Man in Havana could therefore hardly be more closely associated with the triumph of the Cuban Revolution. But is that association merely accidental, or does it involve any deeper implications?
On the fifti eth anniversary of novel, film, and Revolution, that seems a question worth investigating, not with a view to turning Our Man in Havana into a serious political novel, but rather to exploring the complexities of the genre of com edy thriller and to bringing back into view some of the local contexts which might be less visible now than they were when the novel was published and the film released. At the time of his death in Graham Greene was probably the bestknown British novelist, one of the few who had managed to combine criti cal and popular success over a long career.
In he was at the height of his powers. Greene was a steadfast supporter of radical and anticolonial movements: through a personal friendship with Omar Torrijos, the president of Panama, he became closely involved in the return of the Panama Canal to Panama, a process begun in though not completed until He was also solidly if not uncritically supportive of the Cuban Revolution, as is seen in the two essays he wrote in and for the archconservative British newspaper, The Daily Telegraph and in his admiring portrait of Fidel Castro.
In generic terms it appears like a parody of a spy novel. The true popularity of spy fiction followed Our Man in Havana with the novels of John Le Carr and Len Deighton, and the films that were made from them, starting in the s, though the one immediate candidate for parody in was Ian Fleming, whose deeply racist Dr No had been published in set in the Caribbean and concerning attacks on U.
Greene himself categorized Our Man in Havana as merely one of his entertainments. Asked once whether he wished he had written a book like The Quiet American which would have carried more weight than an entertainment, Greene replied: Not in the least. I think that Our Man in Havana is a good comic novel. The object was not to talk about Cuba but to make fun of the Secret Service. Havana was merely the background, an acci dent it had nothing to do with my sympathy for Fidel.
In a note at the beginning of the novel Greene goes out of his way to play down the local context. He calls the book a fairy-story, specifically denying that the characters of the Havana police chief Captain Segura, the 1 See Return to Cuba and Shadow and Sunlight in Cuba , both in Greene and ; and The Marxist Heretic in Greene Greenes own judgment has generally been accepted by critics, although Judith Adamson notes that while Greene says his novel is only a light-hearted comedy, It is also true that, writing in defense of Sidney Gilliats libretto for Malcolm Williamsons opera of Our Man in Havana Greene stated: I admired the great skill with which the libretto had compressed the action and yet brought out every political point Letter to The Times July 4, , in Greene Williamson British ambassador, and the chief of the Secret Service have any connection at all with living people, and removing the novel from its time of publica tion by saying that it is set at some indeterminate date in the future.
Not that indeterminate, it turns out; which offers a first clue as to the novels political undercurrents. When the protagonist Jim Wormold is arrested in Santiago during his annual sales trip to eastern Cuba, he tells a policeman that he is forty-five years old, and he later tells his new assistant Beatrice that he was born on December 6, That means that the novel is set just a year after it was published, between December 6, and the December 5, The dates themselves are not important, since Greene could not have known that the Revolution would triumph so soon after the publication of his novel though the novel does have the current Cuban presidents regime creaking dangerously towards its end Greene The point is that Greene undermines his own supposed indeterminacy.
In addition, the fact that the three characters he names are definitely based on living people hints at Greenes characteristically playful obliquity, just as it begins to suggest the rather specific political connotations of both novel and film.
Overtaken by events, the film could hardly follow the novel in claiming that it was set at some indeterminate future date: that note at the beginning saying that it is set before the recent revolution would place it in the last three months of , in other words the last three months of the Batista dictatorship.
Completely uninterested in politics or spying, Wormold spots the opportunity to make enough money to ease the financial problems largely caused by his indulgence towards his daughter. Fictitious agents, their names chosen at random from a list of Country Club members, are recruited and expenses claimed for them, and increasingly fantastic stories woven to pro vide a patina of plausibility.
Twenty years later, Greene explained the background to the writing of the book Greene He himself had worked for the British Secret Service in Freetown in the s.
Returning to London he had been appointed to the subsection dealing with counter-espionage in the Iberian peninsula, where he had learned about agents in Portugal sending back to Germany completely fictitious reports which garnered them expenses and 3 Greene was a great admirer of Ford and editor of the Bodley Head Ford Madox Ford He called Romance that underrated novel Greene Asked for a film script in Greene had written an outline for a story set in Estonia just before the beginning of the Second World War which made gentle fun of the Secret Service.
The film was never made, and the idea changed course when Greene realized that Havana which he had visited several times in the early s would be a much better setting, the absurdities of the cold war being more appropriate for a comedy than the dark European shadows of However, every year Wormold would make a trip to the eastern province of Oriente, as far as Santiago, to visit the companys retailers.
On this occasion he reckons that he might as well let MI6 finance the trip and so cables his contact: On pretext of visiting sub-agents for vacuums propose to investigate possibilities for recruitment port of Matanzas, industrial centre Santa Clara, naval headquar ters Cienfuegos and dissident centre Santiago, calculate expenses of journey fifty dollars a day Greene Wormolds experiences on his eastern journey shock him into action, pre cipitating the books major plot development.
What was the good of playing a game with half a heart? So he con cocts an elaborate report about big military installations under construction in the mountains of Oriente, too extensive to be aimed at small rebel bands. Stories of widespread forest clearance under cover of forest fires and of peas ants being impressed to carry loads of stone provide supporting context.
To round things off, he is inspired by the name of Phastkleaners latest model, the Atomic Pile, to sketch its innards, claiming that one of his agents had made the drawings of strange machinery being transported into the forest near the mili tary H. In London nobody except Hawthorne, who alone knows that Wormold sells vacuum cleaners, doubts the report or the sketches. To help Wormold, who is by now their most valued agent in the Caribbean, the Secret Service sends him a secretary, Beatrice Severn, and a communications officer.
At this point, however, Wormolds web begins to unravel. The agents he has invented start getting killed in mysterious circumstances and his old friend, Dr. Hasselbacher, also involved in the murky world of espionage, is gunned 4 One could hardly sympathise with the main character if he was to be involved with the Hitler war. I already knew Cuba and my sympathies were with the Fidelistas in the mountains Letter to Ian Thomson, August 18, , in Greene Hasselbacher had been blackmailed into spying on Wormold, then honorably changed his mind because of his friendship with Wormold, so the enemy agent Carter kills him.
Captain Segura says: Of course we shall say it was the rebels from Oriente. It will be useful in influencing foreign opinion. Perhaps it was the rebels Greene Then London discovers that the other side it is again characteristic of Greene that he never makes clear who they are wants to kill Wormold during a trade association meeting in Havana. Wormold is sum moned to Jamaica to hear the news from Hawthorne.
The enemy agent, Carter, masquerading as a salesman for the rival firm, Nucleaners, attempts to poison Wormold but is foiled when Wormold recognizes the stutter he has heard on tape in Seguras office and deliberately spills the poisoned whisky. Then, after getting Segura drunk in a game of draughts, Wormold takes Seguras gun and kills Carter. Wormolds deception is finally uncovered, but rather than admit that they were all taken in by his invented sketch, the Secret Service big wigs offer Wormold a job in London and recommend an OBE.
Milly graciously allows her father and Beatrice to get married. Greene had long been interested in film, having been The Spectator s film critic during the s. Like most novelists, he had not been very happy with other peoples film versions of his novels and so after the Second World War he had jumped at the opportunity to work closely with the director Carol Reed, first in developing for the screen his short story, The Fallen Idol , then writing a screenplay which became The Third Man , a dark political thriller starring Orson Welles, which had a huge impact in and was voted in a British Film Institute poll at the end of the century as the greatest British film ever made.
Our Man in Havana was Reed and Greenes third and final film together. It was Batistas government that had given permission for Our Man in Havana to be filmed in Cuba but the new Revolutionary government confirmed the arrangement, ensuring an authentic atmosphere.
Indeed, according to a contemporary Time article, the new Cuban Interior Ministry was hurt that Reed even thought he needed to ask for permission. It might be assumed that Reed would have had considerable control over the British casting Guinness, Coward, Richardson but perhaps less so over the U. Carol Reed, See Adamson A good analysis of the film is in Evans Reed and Greene had displayed considerable independence in making The Third Man protected by their producer Alexander Korda, which ensured they kept complete control over the script despite David O.
Selznicks best efforts to change it, but Korda had died in , probably leaving Reed rather more exposed. In fact, Columbia seems to have left the script of Our Man in Havana to Greene and Reed indeed in places the screenplay incorporates actual pages from the novel pasted onto type sheets Adamson , but the actors were another matter and the entertain ment element of the film was certainly strengthened by the inclusion of the popular U.
Hasselbacher, Wormolds friend, who first betrays him and then is killed for trying to warn him of the betrayal. Jo Morrow, nineteen when she played Milly, just couldnt act, according to Greene, which seems fair comment. Kovacs was best known as a TV comedian, which would inevitably color perception of his role as Havanas police chief, though he surprised critics with the assurance of his performance.
Greene reports that Cubas Revolutionary government did not really approve of the novel Greene For them, it minimized the brutal ity of Batistas dictatorship, particularly in what they saw as the softening of the character of the infamous police captain, Esteban Ventura Novo, into the cynical but not absolutely unsympathetic Captain Segura.
Ventura Novo had been responsible for much of the torture and murder in Havana that marked Batistas repression in the years to Greene tells the story of how Ventura was going to be left behind by Batista but forced his way onto the departing dictators plane at gunpoint. He eventually settled in Miami, as in the novel Segura suggests he himself would do if the regime fell another indication of Greenes prescience.
Greene On Ventura Novos death the exiled Cuban journalist and histo. Costa, opined that Ventura was an effective enforcer against civil upris ings: He did his job, and he did it in a way that responded to the circumstances of that era, Miami Herald May 23, In April a member of the Film Division of the Cuban Ministry of the Interior, Clara Martnez, was assigned to the production team to represent the interests of the new Cuban government.
She wanted the character of Captain Segura to become more villainous, in order to correspond more closely to his model, and in the various nightclub scenes she wanted the strippers to take off fewer clothes than Reed and Greene wanted them to take off, which was already considerably fewer than they would have taken off before the Revolution, which was all of them.
After the Revolution, the only prerevo lutionary cabaret left untouched was the Tropicana where the characters go in the novel and the film for Millys seventeenth birthday party which had a chorus line but no strippers. So in one respect the new Revolutionary government wanted more realism, in another respect less realism. Ironically, Greenes own early visits to Havana had been for exactly those aspects of the city that motivated Revolutionary distaste: the brothels, the high living, the drugs, the gambling, and the obscene cabarets.
After his first visit, in , Greene wrote: Havana has been a fascinating city, quite the most vicious I have ever been in.
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