The Quiet American

Literary significance and reception

The novel was popular in England and over the years has achieved notable status, being adapted into films in 1958 and most recently in 2002 by Miramax, starring Michael Caine and Brendan Fraser and earning the former a Best Actor nomination. However, after its publication in the US in 1956, the novel was widely condemned as anti-American. It was criticised by The New Yorker for portraying Americans as murderers, largely based on one scene in which a bomb explodes in a crowd of people. According to critic Philip Stratford, "American readers were incensed, perhaps not so much because of the biased portrait of obtuse and destructive American innocence and idealism in Alden Pyle, but because in this case it was drawn with such acid pleasure by a middle-class English snob like Thomas Fowler whom they were all too ready to identify with Greene himself".[4]


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