Ways of escape: Tẩu vi thượng sách!

Death in rue Catinat
Go and try to disprove death, death will disprove you.
- TURGENEV
On 5 January 1952 the New York Times reported that General de Lattre had been operated on in Paris: 'Neither the nature of his illness nor of the operation has been disclosed.' By 11 January the heroic soldier was dead; it was a time of mourning in Vietnam, as a letter sent home by Nancy Baker shows:
    For about 4 weeks the latter part of January and the first of February, the local French and Vietnamese officials and the Diplomatic Corps  were in mourning for the death of de Lattre. Not that I was in agreement for that long length of time of mourning, we still had a very enjoyable time staying home in the evenings, reading, or have small dinners.'
    With de Lattre gone, hope died that the French could win the war in Vietnam. The United States and France held opposed views on the country's future, and if the US State Department did not press France hard this was only because it felt that France might throw in the towel, to stem the loss of its best sons. There were real divisions in the American legation in Saigon also. On the one hand Ambassador Heath was a genuine supporter of the French leadership symbolized by de Lattre. Edmund Gullion thought the French were wrong and that they were not serious about independence. He and Robert Blum were strongly against the survival of colonialism and in favor of building up a nationalist army. They both advocated ways of winning the war which the French authorities found unacceptable.
    Blum, like Pyle in The Quiet American, was looking for a third force to capture the nationalist interest of the Vietnamese people. He felt that only if the Vietnamese were fighting for democracy and independence would they begin to take a powerful personal interest in defeating the communist Vietminh. Without a third force, he and Gullion both believed the French could not succeed. As Blum said:
    We wanted to strengthen the ability of the French to protect the area against Communist infiltration and invasion, and we wanted to capture the nationalist movement from the Communists by encouraging the national aspirations of the local populations and increasing popular support of their governments. We knew that the French were unpopular! that the war that had been going on since I946 was not only nationalist revolt against them but was an example of the awakening self-consciousness of the peoples of Asia who were trying to break loose from domination by the Western world.
Blum wanted the United States to be looked upon as a friend to a new nation, not as a supporter of colonialism (that was an anathema to the Americans). After visiting Vietnam in I951, Congressman John F. Kennedy went home to preach the gospel of those forward-looking Americans in the legation. Speaking of how America had allied itself to the desperate effort of the French regime to hang on to the remnants of an empire, Kennedy concluded: 'the French cannot succeed in Indochina without giving concessions necessary to make the native army a reliable and crusading force. ' Emperor Bao Dai feared that if the Vietnamese army were expanded into a nationalist army, it might defect en masse to the Vietminh. His tragedy was that he was expressing a truth that initially looked like cynicism.
    Because Bao Dai proved so disappointing the Americans felt they had to find someone who represented the new nationalism, someone who opposed the French, someone without the taint of colonialist power, who was also strongly opposed to the communist Vietminh. Thus Colonel The became significant.
    At the time that Greene was visiting Vietnam and beginning to writeThe Qu
iet American, Colonel The had not yet become important to the Americans. They knew he was small beer, but in the early days of his revolt from the Cao Dai his statements expressed his opposition to both the French and the communists. It was only later, after Dien Bien Phu in 1954 when the French were in the process of leaving Vietnam, that the Americans decided on their third force figure - the Catholic strong man Ngo Dinh Diem, who had spent much of the war in a monastery in New Jersey. Thé then came into his own by joining forces with Diem. He was brought back out of the jungle to support Diem by Colonel Lansdale with the help of CIA money. To the French The was a murderous reptile: to the ordinary Vietnamese a romantic hero.  
Norman Sherry: The Life of Graham Greene Volume 2: 39-55
Ways of Escape
Ngô Đình Diệm mang trong ông huyền thoại về một con người Mít hoàn toàn Mít, không đảng phái, không Đệ Tam, Đệ Tứ, không Việt gian bán nước cho Tây, cho Tầu, cho Liên Xô. Cùng với huyền thoại về một vĩ nhân Mít hoàn toàn Mít đó, là huyền thoại về một lực lượng thứ ba, như Gấu đã từng lèm bèm nhiều lần, đây là đề tài của cuốn Người Mỹ Trầm Lặng của Greene. Fowles khuyên anh chàng Mẽo ngây thơ, trầm lặng, mang Phượng về Mẽo, quên mẹ nó lực lượng thứ ba đi: lịch sử diễn ra đúng như vậy, nước Mẽo đã dang tay đón bao nhiêu con người Miền Nam bị cả hai bên bỏ rơi, những cô Phượng ngày nào. (1)
Trong "Tiểu sử của Graham Greene", Tập 3, có cái tiểu chú, về lần GG phỏng vấn Tổng Thống Diệm [bài phỏng vấn thấy ghi, ở cuối sách, 16.8.1982, đúng sinh nhật GCC, nhưng phỏng vấn Diệm ngày nào, không], ông có hỏi Diệm là tại sao cho Thế trở về, khi ông ta trách nhiệm về vụ giết rất nhiều người của chính ông ta [ám chỉ vụ Thế chủ mưu giết thường dân tại Catinat] Greene nhớ là, Diệm bật cười lớn, và nói: “Peut-être, peut-être” [Có thể, có thể].
Cả cuốn "Người Mỹ Trầm Lặng" xoay quanh nhân vật Thế, “Lực lượng thứ ba”, không có Thế [LLTB] là không có nó. Chúng ta tự hỏi, liệu có LLTB?
Because Bao Dai proved so disappointing the Americans felt they had to find someone who represented the new nationalism, someone who opposed the French, someone without the taint of colonialist power, who was also strongly opposed to the communist Vietminh. Thus Colonel The became significant. At the time that Greene was visiting Vietnam and beginning to write The Quiet American, Colonel The had not yet become important to the Americans. They knew he was small beer, but in the early days of his revolt from the Cao Dai his statements expressed his opposition to both the French and the communists. It was only later, after Dien Bien Phu in 1954 when the French were in the process of leaving Vietnam, that the Americans decided on their third force figure - the Catholic strong man Ngo Dinh Diem, who had spent much of the war in a monastery in New Jersey. Thé then came into his own by joining forces with Diem. He was brought back out of the jungle to support Diem by Colonel Lansdale with the help of CIA money. To the French The was a murderous reptile: to the ordinary Vietnamese a romantic hero. Howard Simpson, an American writer in Saigon, described overhearing an 'incongruous melodrama' (his words) involving General Nguyen Van Vy, a pro-French Bao Dai loyalist and chief of staff of the Vietnamese army, and Colonel The:
Cao Dai general Trinh Minh The, in civilian clothes, is lecturing Vy while armed members of The's newly formed pro-Diem 'Revolutionary Committee' have taken up positions by the doors and windows...
General Vy is being asked to read a prepared statement calling for an end to French interference in Vietnamese affairs, repudiating Bao Dai, and pledging his loyalty to Ngo Dinh Diem. Vy is responding to The's harangue in a low voice, trying to argue his case. The veins on The's forehead are standing out ... Suddenly The pulls a Colt .45 from his belt, strides forward, and puts its muzzle to Vy's temple. The pushes Vy to the microphone,  the heavy automatic pressed tight against the general's short-cropped gray hair. I wince, waiting for the Colt's hammer to fall.
The repetitive clicking of a camera is the only sound in the tense silence ... Vy begins to read the text into the mike, the paper shaking in his hands. His face is ashen, and perspiration stains his collar. The complains he can't hear and demands that Vy speak louder. When Vy finishes, The puts his automatic away. General relief sweeps the room."
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The's influence is central to the plot of The Quiet American. He is the catalyst who reveals Pyle's 'special duties” '. The's desperate actions in the novel are based on historical fact. Greene also asserts, both in the novel and in his non-fictional writing, that the CIA was involved with The, providing him with the material to carry out nefarious actions. This is what so scandalized Liebling in the New Yorker: 'There is a difference . . . between calling your over-successful offshoot a silly ass and accusing him of murder.’
In his dedication to Rene Berval and Phuong, Greene mentioned that he had rearranged historical events: 'the big bomb near the Continental preceded and did not follow the bicycle bombs. I have no scruples about such small changes.' 
Trong cuốn tiểu sử của Greene, thì “Lực Lượng Thứ Ba”, anh Xịa ngây thơ gặp, là Trình Minh Thế. Greene không ưa TMT, và không tin ông làm được trò gì. Nhưng chỉ đến khi TMT bị Diệm thịt, thì ông mới thay đổi thái độ, như trong cái thư mở ra "Người Mỹ Trầm Lặng" cho thấy.
Theo GCC, cuốn NMTL được phát sinh, là từ cái tên Phượng, đúng như trong tiềm thức của Greene mách bảo ông. (1)
Cả cuốn truyện là từ đó mà ra. Và nó còn tiên tri ra được cuộc xuất cảng người phụ nữ Mít cả trước và sau cuộc chiến, đúng như lời anh ký giả Hồng Mao ghiền khuyên Pyle, mi hãy quên “lực lượng thứ ba” và đem Phượng về Mẽo, quên cha luôn cái xứ sở khốn kiếp Mít này đi!
&
The Life of Graham Greene
Volume 2: 1939-1955
Norman Sherry
Note: Một trong những em Phượng, đi đúng những ngày 30 Tháng Tư, 1975, và là 1 trong những nhà văn nữ hàng đầu của Miền Nam trước 1975, khi Gấu tới trại tị nạn, gửi thư cầu cứu, đã than giùm, anh đi trễ quá, Miền Biển Động hết động rồi.
Sao không ở luôn với số phận xứ Mít [ở với VC?], chắc em P. của 1 anh Mẽo Pyle nào đó, tính khuyên Gấu?
(1)
"Phuong," I said – which means Phoenix, but nothing nowadays is fabulous and nothing rises from its ashes. "Phượng", tôi nói, "Phượng có nghĩa là Phượng hoàng, nhưng những ngày này chẳng có chi là huyền hoặc, và chẳng có gì tái sinh từ mớ tro than của loài chim đó":
Quả có sự tái sinh từ mớ tro than của loài chim đó!
Cuộc xuất cảng Phượng sau 1975, là cả 1 cái nguồn nuôi nước Mít, theo nghĩa thê thảm nhất, hoặc, cao cả nhất [Hãy nghĩ đến những gia đình Miền Nam phải cho con gái đi làm dâu Đại Hàn, thí dụ, để sống sót VC]
Ways of Escape
Kevin Ruane, The Hidden History of Graham Greene’s Vietnam War: Fact, Fiction and The Quiet American, History, The Journal of the Historical Association, ấn hành bởi Blackwell Publishing Ltd., tại Oxford, UK và Malden, MA., USA, 2012, các trang 431-452.
LỊCH SỬ ẨN TÀNG CỦA CHIẾN TRANH VIỆT NAM CỦA GRAHAM GREENE:
SỰ KIỆN, HƯ CẤU VÀ QUYỂN THE QUIET AMERICAN (NGƯỜI MỸ TRẦM LẶNG) 
Ngô Bắc dịch
ĐẠI Ý:
Nơi trang có minh họa đằng trước trang nhan đề của quyển tiểu thuyết đặt khung cảnh tại Việt Nam của mình, quyển The Quiet American, xuất bản năm 1955, Graham Greene đã nhấn mạnh rằng ông viết “một truyện chứ không phải một mảnh lịch sử”, song vô số các độc giả trong các thập niên kế tiếp đã không đếm xỉa đến các lời cảnh giác này và đã khoác cho tác phẩm sự chân thực của lịch sử.  Bởi viết ở ngôi thứ nhất, và bởi việc gồm cả sự tường thuật trực tiếp (được rút ra từ nhiều cuộc thăm viếng của ông tại Đông Dương trong thập niên 1950) nhiều hơn những gì có thể được tìm thấy trong bất kỳ tiểu thuyết nào khác của ông, Greene đã ước lượng thấp tầm mức theo đó giới độc giả của ông sẽ lẫn lộn giữa sự thực và hư cấu.  Greene đã không chủ định để quyển tiểu thuyết của ông có chức năng như sử ký, nhưng đây là điều đã xảy ra.  Khi đó, làm sao mà nó đã được ngắm nhìn như lịch sử? Để trả lời câu hỏi này, phần lớn các nhà bình luận quan tâm đến việc xác định nguồn khởi hứng trong đời sống thực tế cho nhân vật Alden Pyle, người Mỹ trầm lặng trong nhan đề của quyển truyện, kẻ đã một cách bí mật (và tai họa) phát triển một Lực Lượng Thứ Ba tại Việt Nam, vừa cách biệt với phe thực dân Pháp và phe Việt Minh do cộng sản cầm đầu.  Trong bài viết này, tiêu điểm ít nhắm vào các nhân vật cho bằng việc liệu người Mỹ có thực sự bí mật tài trợ và trang bị vũ khí cho một Lực Lượng Thứ Ba hay không.  Ngoài ra, sử dụng các thư tín và nhật ký không được ấn hành của Greene cũng như các tài liệu của Bộ Ngoại Vụ [Anh Quốc] mới được giải mật gần đây chiếu theo Đạo Luật Tự Do Thông Tin Của Vương Quốc Thống Nhất (UK Freedom of Information Act), điều sẽ được nhìn thấy rằng người Anh cũng thế, đã có can dự vào mưu đồ Lực Lượng Thứ Ba sau lưng người Pháp và rằng bản thân Greene đã là một thành phần của loại dính líu chằng chịt thường được tìm thấy quá nhiều trong các tình tiết của các tiểu thuyết của ông.

Note: Nguồn của bài viết này, đa số lấy từ “Ways of Escape” của Graham Greene.
Và cái sự lầm lẫn giữa giả tưởng và lịch sử, ở đây, là do GG cố tình, như chính ông viết:
Như vậy là đề tài Người Mỹ Trầm Lặng đến với tôi, trong cuộc “chat”, về “lực lượng thứ ba” trên con đường đồng bằng [Nam Bộ] và những nhân vật của tôi bèn lẵng nhẵng đi theo, tất cả, trừ 1 trong số họ, là từ tiềm thức. Ngoại lệ, là Granger, tay ký giả Mẽo. Cuộc họp báo ở Hà Nội, có anh ta, được ghi lại, gần như từng lời, từ nhật ký của tôi, vào thời kỳ đó.
Có lẽ cái chất phóng sự của Người Mỹ Trầm Lặng nặng “đô” hơn, so với bất cứ cuốn tiểu thuyết nào mà tôi đã viết. Tôi chơi lại cách đã dùng, trong Kết Thúc một Chuyện Tình, khi sử dụng ngôi thứ nhất, và cách chuyển thời [time-shift], để bảo đảm chất phóng sự. Cuộc họp báo ở Hà Nội không phải là thí dụ độc nhất của cái gọi là phóng sự trực tiếp. Tôi ở trong 1 chiến đấu cơ (tay phi công đếch thèm để ý đến lệnh của Tướng de Lattre, khi cho tôi tháp tùng), khi nó tấn công những điểm có Vẹm, ở trong toán tuần tra của lực lượng Lê Dương, bên ngoài Phát Diệm. Tôi vẫn còn giữ nguyên hình ảnh, 1 đứa bé chết, bên cạnh bà mẹ, dưới 1 con mương. Những vết đạn cực nét làm cho cái chết của hai mẹ con nhức nhối hơn nhiều, so với cuộc tàn sát làm nghẹt những con kinh bên ngoài nhà thờ Phát Diệm.
Tôi trở lại Đông Dương lần thứ tư và là lần cuối cùng vào năm 1955, sau cú thất trận của Tẩy ở Bắc Việt, và với tí khó khăn, tôi tới được Hà Nội, một thành phố buồn, bị tụi Tẩy bỏ rơi, tôi ngồi chơi chai bia cuối cùng [may quá, cũng bị tụi Tẩy] bỏ lại, trong 1 quán cà phê, nơi tôi thường tới với me-xừ Dupont. Tôi cảm thấy rất bịnh, mệt mỏi, tinh thần sa sút. Tôi có cảm tình với tụi thắng trận nhưng cũng có cảm tình với tụi Tẩy [làm sao không!] Những cuốn sách của những tác giả cổ điển Tẩy, thì vưỡn thấy được bày ở trong 1 tiệm sách nhỏ, chuyên bán sách cũ, nơi tôi và ông bạn nói trên cùng lục lọi, mấy năm về trước, nhưng 100 năm văn hóa thằng Tây mũi lõ thì đã theo tín hữu Ky Tô, nhà quê, Bắc Kít, bỏ chạy vô Miền Nam. Khách sạn Metropole, nơi tôi thường ở, thì nằm trong tay Phái Đoàn Quốc Tế [lo vụ Đình Chiến. NQT]. Mấy anh VC đứng gác bên ngoài tòa nhà, nơi Tướng De Lattre đã từng huênh hoang hứa nhảm, ‘tớ để bà xã ở lại, như là 1 bằng chứng nước Tẩy sẽ không bao giờ, không bao giờ….’
Ngày lại qua ngày, trong khi tôi cố tìm cách gặp Bác Hát….
Graham Greene: Ways of Escape

GCC đang hăm he/hăm hở dịch tiếp đoạn, Greene làm “chantage” - Day after day passed while I tried to bully my way into the presence of Ho Chi Minh,  I don't know why my blackmail succeeded, but I was summoned suddenly to take tea with Ho Chi Minh meetin -, để Bác hoảng, phải cho gặp mặt.
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Một số tiết lộ về cuộc chiến từ tài liệu CIA

Greene viết Người Mỹ Trầm Lặng, là cũng từ nguồn này, qua lần gặp gỡ một anh Xịa, khi đi thăm Le Roy, trên đường trở về Sài Gòn. (1)

(1)

Giấc mơ lớn của Mẽo, từ đó, cái mầm của Người Mỹ Trầm Lặng  bật ra, khi Greene, trên đường trở về Sài Gòn, sau khi qua một đêm với tướng Leroy, Hùm Xám Bến Tre, như ông viết, trong Tam thập lục kế tẩu vi thượng sách, Ways of Escape.

"Cách đây chưa đầy một năm, [Geeene viết năm 1952], tôi đã từng tháp tùng Le Roy, tham quan vương quốc sông rạch, trên chiến thuyền của ông ta. Lần này, thay vì chiến thuyền, thì là du thuyền, thay vì dàn súng máy ở hai bên mạn thuyền, thì là chiếc máy chạy dĩa nhạc, và những vũ nữ.
Bản nhạc đang chơi, là từ phim Người Thứ Ba, như để vinh danh tôi.
Tôi dùng chung phòng ngủ với một tay Mẽo, tùy viên kinh tế, chắc là CIA, [an American attached to an economic aid mission - the members were assumed by the French, probably correctly, to belong to the CIA].  Không giống Pyle, thông minh hơn, và ít ngu hơn [of less innocence]. Anh ta bốc phét, suốt trên đường từ Bến Tre về Sài Gòn, về sự cần thiết phải tìm cho ra một lực lượng thứ ba ở Việt Nam.
Cho tới lúc đó, tôi chưa bao giờ cận kề với giấc mộng lớn của Mẽo, về những áp phe ma quỉ, tại Đông phương, như là nó đã từng, tại Phi Châu.

Trong Người Mỹ Trầm Lặng, Pyle nhắc tới câu của tay ký giả York Harding – cái mà phía Đông cần, là một Lực Lượng Thứ Ba – anh ta xem có vẻ ngây thơ, nhưng thực sự đây chính là chính sách của Mẽo.
Người Mẽo tìm kiếm một nhà lãnh đạo Việt Nam không tham nhũng, hoàn toàn quốc gia, an incorruptible, purely nationalist Vietnamese leader, người có thể kết hợp, unite, nhân dân Việt Nam, và tạo thành một thế đứng, một giải pháp, đối với Việt Minh CS."

Greene rất chắc chắn, về nguồn của Người Mỹ trầm lặng:

"Như vậy, đề tài NMTL tới với tôi, trong cuộc nói chuyện trên, về 'lực lượng thứ ba', trên đường vượt đồng bằng sông Cửu Long, và từ đó, những nhân vật theo sau, tất cả, [trừ một, Granger], là từ tiềm thức bật ra."
Ways of escape

NKTV: 30.4.2912_1

Trong cuốn tiểu sử của Greene, thì “Lực Lượng Thứ Ba”, anh Xịa ngây thơ gặp, là Trình Minh Thế. Greene không ưa TMT, và không tin ông làm được trò gì. Nhưng chỉ đến khi TMT bị Diệm thịt, thì ông mới thay đổi thái độ, như trong cái thư mở ra "Người Mỹ Trầm Lặng" cho thấy.
Theo GCC, cuốn NMTL được phát sinh, là từ cái tên Phượng, đúng như trong tiềm thức của Greene mách bảo ông.
Cả cuốn truyện là từ đó mà ra. Và nó còn tiên tri ra được cuộc xuất cảng người phụ nữ Mít cả trước và sau cuộc chiến, đúng như lời anh ký giả Hồng Mao ghiền khuyên Pyle, mi hãy quên “lực lượng thứ ba” và đem Phượng về Mẽo, quên cha luôn cái xứ sở khốn kiếp Mít này đi!
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The Life of Graham Greene
Volume 2: 1939-1955
Norman Sherry
Note: Một trong những em Phượng, đi đúng những ngày 30 Tháng Tư, 1975, và là 1 trong những nhà văn nữ hàng đầu của Miền Nam trước 1975, khi Gấu tới trại tị nạn, gửi thư cầu cứu, đã than giùm, anh đi trễ quá, Miền Biển Động hết động rồi.
Sao không ở luôn với số phận xứ Mít [ở với VC?]
"Phuong," I said – which means Phoenix, but nothing nowadays is fabulous and nothing rises from its ashes. "Phượng", tôi nói, "Phượng có nghĩa là Phượng hoàng, nhưng những ngày này chẳng có chi là huyền hoặc, và chẳng có gì tái sinh từ mớ tro than của loài chim đó":
Quả có sự tái sinh từ mớ than của loài chim đó! Cuộc xuất cảng Phượng sau 1975, là cả 1 cái nguồn nuôi nước Mít, theo nghĩa thê thảm nhất, hoặc, cao cả nhất [Hãy nghĩ đến những gia đình Miền Nam phải cho con gái đi làm dâu Đại Hàn, thí dụ, để sống sót VC]
Võ tướng quân về Trời



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                                                                     Greene đi tuần tra cùng lính Pháp tại Phát Diệm                                                                      

So the subject of The Quiet American came to me, during that talk of a 'third force' on the road through the delta, and my characters quickly followed, all but one of them from the unconscious. The exception was Granger, the American newspaper correspondent. The press conference in Hanoi where he figures was recorded almost word for word in my journal at the time. Perhaps there is more direct reportage in 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 reportage. 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.
    I went back to Indo-China for the fourth and last time in 1955 after the defeat of the French in the north, and with some difficulty I reached Hanoi - a sad city, abandoned by the French, where I drank the last bottle of beer left in the cafe which I used to frequent with Monsieur Dupont. I was feeling very ill and tired and depressed. I sympathized with the victors, but I sympathized with the French too. The French classics were yet on view in a small secondhand bookshop which Monsieur Dupont had rifled a few years back, but a hundred years of French civilization had fled with the Catholic peasants to the south. The Metropole Hotel where I used to stay was in the hands of the International Commission. Viet Minh sentries stood outside the building where de Lattre had made his promise, 'I leave you my wife as a symbol that France will never, never ... ' Day after day passed while I tried to bully my way into the presence of Ho Chi Minh. It was the period of the crachin and my spirits sank with the thin day-long drizzle of warm rain. I told my contacts I could wait no longer - tomorrow I - would return to what was left of French territory in the north.
    I don't know why my blackmail succeeded, but I was summoned suddenly to take tea with Ho Chi Minh, and now I felt too ill for the meeting. There was only one thing to be done. I went back to an old Chinese chemist's shop in the rue des Voiles which I had visited the year before. The owner, it was said, was 'the Happiest Man in the World’. There I was able to smoke a few pipes of opium while the mah-jong pieces rattled like gravel on a beach. I had a passionate desire for the impossible - a bottle of Eno's. A messenger was dispatched and before the pipes were finished I received the impossible. I had drunk the last bottle of beer in Hanoi. Was this the last bottle of Eno's? Anyway the Eno's and the pipes took away the sickness and the inertia and gave me the energy to meet Ho Chi Minh at tea.
    Of those four winters which I passed in Indo-China opium has left the happiest memory, and as it played an important part in the life of Fowler, my character in The Quiet American, I add a few memories from my journal concerning it, for I am reluctant to leave Indo-China for ever with only a novel to remember it by.
Graham Greene: Ways of Escape
             phat_deim            phat_diem
Như vậy là đề tài Người Mỹ Trầm Lặng đến với tôi, trong cuộc “chat”, về “lực lượng thứ ba” trên con đường đồng bằng [Nam Bộ] và những nhân vật của tôi bèn lẵng nhẵng đi theo, tất cả, trừ 1 trong số họ, là từ tiềm thức. Ngoại lệ, là Granger, tay ký giả Mẽo. Cuộc họp báo ở Hà Nội, có anh ta, được ghi lại, gần như từng lời, từ nhật ký của tôi, vào thời kỳ đó.
Có lẽ cái chất phóng sự của Người Mỹ Trầm Lặng nặng “đô” hơn, so với bất cứ cuốn tiểu thuyết nào mà tôi đã viết. Tôi chơi lại cách đã dùng, trong Kết Thúc một Chuyện Tình, khi sử dụng ngôi thứ nhất, và cách chuyển thời [time-shift], để bảo đảm chất phóng sự. Cuộc họp báo ở Hà Nội không phải là thí dụ độc nhất của cái gọi là phóng sự trực tiếp. Tôi ở trong 1 chiến đấu cơ (tay phi công đếch thèm để ý đến lệnh của Tướng de Lattre, khi cho tôi tháp tùng), khi nó tấn công những điểm có Vẹm, ở trong toán tuần tra của lực lượng Lê Dương, bên ngoài Phát Diệm. Tôi vẫn còn giữ nguyên hình ảnh, 1 đứa bé chết, bên cạnh bà mẹ, dưới 1 con mương. Những vết đạn cực nét làm cho cái chết của hai mẹ con nhức nhối hơn nhiều, so với cuộc tàn sát làm nghẹt những con kinh bên ngoài nhà thờ Phát Diệm.
Tôi trở lại Đông Dương lần thứ tư và là lần cuối cùng vào năm 1955, sau cú thất trận của Tẩy ở Bắc Việt, và với tí khó khăn, tôi tới được Hà Nội...
Ways of Escape

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Cuốn này mua từ hồi nào, bi giờ mới thấy, sau khi lục lọi, cố tìm cuốn Phân tâm học về Lửa của Bachelard, để đọc lại. Coi lửa của Bachelard có tí nhân ái nào không so với lửa của QD, ông anh ruột của Thầy Phúc.
Hà, hà!
Cuốn này, nằm trong 1 chùm mà 1 em nữ phê bình gia phán, trung tâm điểm của khá nhiều cái viết của Greene [Brighton Rock, The Power and the Glory, The Heart of the matter] là tự tử, mà theo như Ky Tô giáo, đây là tội nặng nhất. Và nhà văn bèn phịa ra 1 câu để bào chữa cho quan điểm của ông: Tui là tác giả, và tác giả này thì là một tín hữu Kytô, “I am an author who is a Catholic”


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Ways of escape: Tam thập lục kế, tẩu vi thượng sách!
Hồi ký của Greene. Những đoạn viết về Việt Nam thật tuyệt.



Trở lại Anh, Greene nhớ Việt Nam quá và đã mang theo cùng với ông một cái tẩu hít tô phe, như là một kỷ niệm tình cảm: cái tẩu mà ông đã hít lần chót, tại một tiệm hít ngoài đường Catinat. Tay chủ, người Tầu hợp với ông, và ông đã đi vài đường dậy tay này vài câu tiếng Anh. Tới ngày rời Việt Nam, tay chủ tiệm hít bèn giúi vào tay Greene cái tẩu. Cây gậy thiêng nằm trên một cái dĩa tại căn phòng của Greene, ở Albany, bị sứt mẻ tí tí, do di chuyển, đúng là một thần vật cổ, của những ngày hạnh phúc.
Lần thăm Việt Nam cuối, chàng [Greene] hít nhiều hơn lệ thường: thường, nghĩa là ba hoặc bốn bi, nhưng chỉ riêng trong lần cuối này, ở Sài Gòn, trong khi chờ đợi một tờ visa khác, tiếu lâm thay, của Vi Xi, chàng "thuốc" chàng đến bất tri bất giác, he smoked himself inerte.
Trong những lần trước, thường xuyên là với những viên chức Tây, chàng hít không quá hai lần trong một tuần. Lần này, một tuần hít ba lần, mỗi lần trên mười bi. Ngay cả hít nhiều như thế cũng chẳng đủ biến chàng thành ghiền. Ghiền, là phải hít trên trăm bi một ngày.
Norman  Sherry: Tiểu sử Greene
Trong Ba Mươi Sáu Chước, Tẩu Vi Thượng Sách,  Ways of escape, một dạng hồi nhớ văn học, Greene cho biết, đúng là một cơ may, chuyện ông chết mê chết mệt xứ Đông Dương. Lần thứ nhất viếng thăm, ông chẳng hề nghĩ, mình sẽ đẻ ra được một cuốn tiểu thuyết thật bảnh, nhờ nó. Một người bạn cũ của ông, từ hồi chiến tranh, lúc đó là Lãnh sự  tại Hà Nội, nơi một cuộc chiến tranh khác đang tiến diễn và hầu như hoàn toàn bị bỏ quên bởi báo chí Anh. Do đó, sau Malaya, ông bèn nháng qua Việt Nam  thăm bạn, chẳng hề nghĩ, vài năm sau, sẽ trải qua tất cả những mùa đông của ông ở đây.
 "Tôi nhận thấy, Malaya 'đần' như một người đàn bà đẹp đôi khi 'độn'. Người ở đó thường nói, 'Bạn phải thăm xứ xở này vào thời bình', và tôi thật tình muốn vặc lại, 'Nhưng tớ chỉ quan tâm tới cái xứ sở đần độn này, khi có máu'. Không có máu, nó trơ ra với vài câu lạc bộ Anh, với một dúm xì căng đan nho nhỏ, nằm tênh hênh chờ một tay Maugham nào đó mần báo cáo về chúng."
"Nhưng Đông Dương, khác hẳn. Ở đó, tôi nuốt trọn bùa yêu, ngải lú, tôi cụng ly rượu tình với mấy đám sĩ quan Lực Lượng Lê Dương, mắt tay nào cũng sáng lên, khi vừa nghe nhắc đến hai tiếng Sài Gòn, hay Hà Nội."
Và bùa yêu ép phê liền tù tì, tôi muốn nói, giáng cú sét đánh đầu tiên của nó, qua những cô gái mảnh khảnh, thanh lịch, trong những chiếc quần lụa trắng, qua cái dáng chiều mầu thiếc xà xuống cánh đồng lúa trải dài ra mãi, đây đó là mấy chú trâu nước nặng nề trong cái dáng đi lảo đảo hai bên móng vốn có tự thời nguyên thuỷ của loài vật này, hay là qua mấy tiệm bán nước thơm của người Tây ở đường Catinat, hay trong những sòng bài bạc của người Tầu ở Chợ Lớn, nhưng trên hết, là qua cái cảm giác bi bi hài hài,  trớ trêu làm sao, và cũng rất ư là phấn chấn hồ hởi mà một dấu báo của hiểm nguy mang đến cho du khách với cái vé khứ hồi thủ sẵn ở trong túi: những tiệm ăn bao quanh bằng những hàng dây kẽm gai nhằm chống lại lựu đạn, những vọng gác cao lênh khênh dọc theo những con lộ nơi đồng bằng Nam Bộ với những lời cảnh báo thật là kỳ kỳ [bằng tiếng Tây, lẽ dĩ nhiên]: "Nếu bạn bị tấn công, và bị bắt giữ trên đường đi, hãy báo liền lập tức cho viên sếp đồn quan trọng đầu tiên".
Dịp đó, tôi ở hai tuần, và tranh thủ tối đa, tới giây phút cuối cùng, cái giây phút không thể tha thứ , "the unforgiving minute". Hà Nội cách Sài Gòn bằng London xa Rome, nhưng ngoài chuyện ăn ngủ... ở cả hai thành phố, tôi còn ban cho mình những chuyến tham quan nơi đồng bằng Nam Bộ, tới những giáo phái lạ lùng như Cao Đài mà những ông thánh của nó bao gồm Victor Hugo, Christ, Phật, và Tôn Dật Tiên.
Ways of escape
Liệu giấc mơ về một cuộc cách mạng, thỏa mãn giấc mơ như lòng chúng ta thèm khát tương lai, của TTT, có gì liên can tới ‘lực lượng thứ ba’, vốn là một giấc mơ lớn, của Mẽo, nằm trong hành trang của Pyle, [Người Mỹ Trầm Lặng ], khi tới Việt Nam.
Giấc mơ lớn của Mẽo, từ đó, cái mầm của Người Mỹ Trầm Lặng  bật ra, khi Greene, trên đường trở về Sài Gòn, sau khi qua một đêm với tướng Leroy, Hùm Xám Bến Tre, như ông viết, trong Tam thập lục kế tẩu vi thượng sách, Ways of Escape.
"Cách đây chưa đầy một năm, [Geeene viết năm 1952], tôi đã từng tháp tùng Le Roy, tham quan vương quốc sông rạch, trên chiến thuyền của ông ta. Lần này, thay vì chiến thuyền, thì là du thuyền, thay vì dàn súng máy ở hai bên mạn thuyền, thì là chiếc máy chạy dĩa nhạc, và những vũ nữ.
Bản nhạc đang chơi, là từ phim Người Thứ Ba, như để vinh danh tôi.
Tôi dùng chung phòng ngủ với một tay Mẽo, tùy viên kinh tế, chắc là CIA, [an American attached to an economic aid mission - the members were assumed by the French, probably correctly, to belong to the CIA].  Không giống Pyle, thông minh hơn, và ít ngu hơn [of less innocence]. Anh ta bốc phét, suốt trên đường từ Bến Tre về Sài Gòn, về sự cần thiết phải tìm cho ra một lực lượng thứ ba ở Việt
Nam. Cho tới lúc đó, tôi chưa giờ cận kề với giấc mộng lớn của Mẽo, về những áp phe ma quỉ, tại Đông phương, như là nó đã từng, tại Phi Châu.
Trong Người Mỹ Trầm Lặng, Pyle nhắc tới câu của tay ký giả York Harding – cái mà phía Đông cần, là một Lực Lượng Thứ Ba – anh ta xem có vẻ ngây thơ, nhưng thực sự đây chính là chính sách của Mẽo. Người Mẽo tìm kiếm một nhà lãnh đạo Việt Nam không tham nhũng, hoàn toàn quốc gia, an incorruptible, purely nationalist Vietnamese leader, người có thể kết hợp, unite, nhân dân Việt Nam, và tạo thành một thế đứng, một giải pháp, đối với Việt Minh CS.
Greene rất chắc chắn, về nguồn của Người Mỹ trầm lặng:
"Như vậy, đề tài NMTL tới với tôi, trong cuộc nói chuyện trên, về 'lực lượng thứ ba', trên đường vượt đồng bằng sông Cửu Long, và từ đó, những nhân vật theo sau, tất cả, [trừ một, Granger], là từ tiềm thức bật ra."
Ways of Escape.
Granger, một ký giả Mẽo, tên thực ngoài đời, Larry Allen, đã từng được Pulitzer khi tường thuật Đệ Nhị Chiến, chín năm trước đó. Greene gặp anh ta năm 1951. Khi đó 43 tuổi, hào quang đã ở đằng sau, nhậu như hũ chìm. Khi, một tay nâng bi anh ta về bài viết, [Tên nó là gì nhỉ, Đường về Địa ngục, đáng Pulitzer quá đi chứ... ], Allen vặc lại: "Bộ anh nghĩ, tôi có ở đó hả? Stephen Crane đã từng miêu tả một cuộc chiến mà ông không có mặt, tại sao tôi không thể? Vả chăng, chỉ là một cuộc chiến thuộc địa nhơ bẩn. Cho ly nữa đi. Rồi tụi mình đi kiếm gái."

Trong Tẩu Vi Thượng Sách. Greene có kể về mối tình của ông đối với Miền Nam Việt Nam, và từ đó, đưa đến chuyện ông viết Người Mỹ Trầm Lặng…
Tin Văn post lại ở đây, như là một dữ kiện, cho thấy, Mẽo thực sự không có ý ‘giầy xéo’ Miền Nam.
Và cái cú đầu độc tù Phú Lợi, hẳn là ‘diệu kế’ của đám VC nằm vùng.
Cái chuyện MB phải thống nhất đất nước, là đúng theo qui luật lịch sử xứ Mít, nhưng, do dùng phương pháp bá đạo mà hậu quả khủng khiếp 'nhãn tiền’ như ngày nay!
Ui chao, lại nhớ cái đoạn trong Tam Quốc, khi Lưu Bị thỉnh thị quân sư Khổng Minh, làm cách nào lấy được xứ... Nam Kỳ, Khổng Minh bèn phán, có ba cách, vương đạo, trung đạo, và bá đạo [Gấu nhớ đại khái].
Sau khi nghe trình bầy, Lê Duẩn than, vương đạo khó quá, bụng mình đầy cứt, làm sao nói chuyện vương đạo, thôi, bá đạo đi!
Cú Phú Lợi đúng là như thế! Và cái giá của mấy anh tù VC Phú Lợi, giả như có, là cả cuộc chiến khốn kiếp!
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Ways of escape: Tam thập lục kế, tẩu vi thượng sách!
Hồi ký của Greene. Những đoạn viết về Việt Nam thật tuyệt.
Trở lại Anh, Greene nhớ Việt Nam quá và đã mang theo cùng với ông một cái tẩu hít tô phe, như là một kỷ niệm tình cảm: cái tẩu mà ông đã hít lần chót, tại một tiệm hít ngoài đường Catinat. Tay chủ, người Tầu hợp với ông, và ông đã đi vài đường dậy tay này vài câu tiếng Anh. Tới ngày rời Việt Nam, tay chủ tiệm hít bèn giúi vào tay Greene cái tẩu. Cây gậy thiêng nằm trên một cái dĩa tại căn phòng của Greene, ở Albany, bị sứt mẻ tí tí, do di chuyển, đúng là một thần vật cổ, của những ngày hạnh phúc.
Lần thăm Việt Nam cuối, chàng [Greene] hít nhiều hơn lệ thường: thường, nghĩa là ba hoặc bốn bi, nhưng chỉ riêng trong lần cuối này, ở Sài Gòn, trong khi chờ đợi một tờ visa khác, tiếu lâm thay, của Vi Xi, chàng "thuốc" chàng đến bất tri bất giác, he smoked himself inerte.
Trong những lần trước, thường xuyên là với những viên chức Tây, chàng hít không quá hai lần trong một tuần. Lần này, một tuần hít ba lần, mỗi lần trên mười bi. Ngay cả hít nhiều như thế cũng chẳng đủ biến chàng thành ghiền. Ghiền, là phải hít trên trăm bi một ngày.
Norman  Sherry: Tiểu sử Greene
*
Trong Ba Mươi Sáu Chước, Tẩu Vi Thượng Sách,  Ways of escape, một dạng hồi nhớ văn học, Greene cho biết, đúng là một cơ may, chuyện ông chết mê chết mệt xứ Đông Dương. Lần thứ nhất viếng thăm, ông chẳng hề nghĩ, mình sẽ đẻ ra được một cuốn tiểu thuyết thật bảnh, nhờ nó. Một người bạn cũ của ông, từ hồi chiến tranh, lúc đó là Lãnh sự  tại Hà Nội, nơi một cuộc chiến tranh khác đang tiến diễn và hầu như hoàn toàn bị bỏ quên bởi báo chí Anh. Do đó, sau Malaya, ông bèn nháng qua Việt Nam  thăm bạn, chẳng hề nghĩ, vài năm sau, sẽ trải qua tất cả những mùa đông của ông ở đây.
 "Tôi nhận thấy, Malaya 'đần' như một người đàn bà đẹp đôi khi 'độn'. Người ở đó thường nói, 'Bạn phải thăm xứ xở này vào thời bình', và tôi thật tình muốn vặc lại, 'Nhưng tớ chỉ quan tâm tới cái xứ sở đần độn này, khi có máu'. Không có máu, nó trơ ra với vài câu lạc bộ Anh, với một dúm xì căng đan nho nhỏ, nằm tênh hênh chờ một tay Maugham nào đó mần báo cáo về chúng."
"Nhưng Đông Dương, khác hẳn. Ở đó, tôi nuốt trọn bùa yêu, ngải lú, tôi cụng ly rượu tình với mấy đám sĩ quan Lực Lượng Lê Dương, mắt tay nào cũng sáng lên, khi vừa nghe nhắc đến hai tiếng Sài Gòn, hay Hà Nội."
Và bùa yêu ép phê liền tù tì, tôi muốn nói, giáng cú sét đánh đầu tiên của nó, qua những cô gái mảnh khảnh, thanh lịch, trong những chiếc quần lụa trắng, qua cái dáng chiều mầu thiếc xà xuống cánh đồng lúa trải dài ra mãi, đây đó là mấy chú trâu nước nặng nề trong cái dáng đi lảo đảo hai bên mông vốn có tự thời nguyên thuỷ của loài vật này, hay là qua mấy tiệm bán nước thơm của người Tây ở đường Catinat, hay trong những sòng bài của người Tầu ở Chợ Lớn, nhưng trên hết, là qua cái cảm giác bi bi hài hài,  trớ trêu làm sao, và cũng rất ư là phấn chấn hồ hởi mà một dấu báo của hiểm nguy mang đến cho du khách với cái vé khứ hồi thủ sẵn ở trong túi: những tiệm ăn bao quanh bằng những hàng dây kẽm gai nhằm chống lại lựu đạn, những vọng gác cao lênh khênh dọc theo những con lộ nơi đồng bằng Nam Bộ với những lời cảnh báo thật là kỳ kỳ [bằng tiếng Tây, lẽ dĩ nhiên]: "Nếu bạn bị tấn công, và bị bắt giữ trên đường đi, hãy báo liền lập tức cho viên sếp đồn quan trọng đầu tiên".
Dịp đó, tôi ở hai tuần, và tranh thủ tối đa, tới giây phút cuối cùng, cái giây phút không thể tha thứ , "the unforgiving minute". Hà Nội cách Sài Gòn bằng London xa Rome, nhưng ngoài chuyện ăn ngủ... ở cả hai thành phố, tôi còn ban cho mình những chuyến tham quan nơi đồng bằng Nam Bộ, tới những giáo phái lạ lùng như Cao Đài mà những ông thánh của nó bao gồm Victor Hugo, Christ, Phật, và Tôn Dật Tiên.
Ways of escape
Liệu giấc mơ về một cuộc cách mạng, thỏa mãn giấc mơ như lòng chúng ta thèm khát tương lai, của TTT, có gì liên can tới ‘lực lượng thứ ba’, vốn là một giấc mơ lớn, của Mẽo, nằm trong hành trang của Pyle, [Người Mỹ Trầm Lặng ], khi tới Việt Nam.
Giấc mơ lớn của Mẽo, từ đó, cái mầm của Người Mỹ Trầm Lặng  bật ra, khi Greene, trên đường trở về Sài Gòn, sau khi qua một đêm với tướng Leroy, Hùm Xám Bến Tre, như ông viết, trong Tam thập lục kế tẩu vi thượng sách, Ways of Escape.
"Cách đây chưa đầy một năm, [Geeene viết năm 1952], tôi đã từng tháp tùng Le Roy, tham quan vương quốc sông rạch, trên chiến thuyền của ông ta. Lần này, thay vì chiến thuyền, thì là du thuyền, thay vì dàn súng máy ở hai bên mạn thuyền, thì là chiếc máy chạy dĩa nhạc, và những vũ nữ.
Bản nhạc đang chơi, là từ phim Người Thứ Ba, như để vinh danh tôi.
Tôi dùng chung phòng ngủ với một tay Mẽo, tùy viên kinh tế, chắc là CIA, [an American attached to an economic aid mission - the members were assumed by the French, probably correctly, to belong to the CIA].  Không giống Pyle, thông minh hơn, và ít ngu hơn [of less innocence]. Anh ta bốc phét, suốt trên đường từ Bến Tre về Sài Gòn, về sự cần thiết phải tìm cho ra một lực lượng thứ ba ở Việt Nam. Cho tới lúc đó, tôi chưa giờ cận kề với giấc mộng lớn của Mẽo, về những áp phe ma quỉ, tại Đông phương, như là nó đã từng, tại Phi Châu.
Trong Người Mỹ Trầm Lặng, Pyle nhắc tới câu của tay ký giả York Harding – cái mà phía Đông cần, là một Lực Lượng Thứ Ba – anh ta xem có vẻ ngây thơ, nhưng thực sự đây chính là chính sách của Mẽo. Người Mẽo tìm kiếm một nhà lãnh đạo Việt Nam không tham nhũng, hoàn toàn quốc gia, an incorruptible, purely nationalist Vietnamese leader, người có thể kết hợp, unite, nhân dân Việt Nam, và tạo thành một thế đứng, một giải pháp, đối với Việt Minh CS.
Greene rất chắc chắn, về nguồn của Người Mỹ trầm lặng:
"Như vậy, đề tài NMTL tới với tôi, trong cuộc nói chuyện trên, về 'lực lượng thứ ba', trên đường vượt đồng bằng sông Cửu Long, và từ đó, những nhân vật theo sau, tất cả, [trừ một, Granger], là từ tiềm thức bật ra."
Ways of Escape.
Granger, một ký giả Mẽo, tên thực ngoài đời, Larry Allen, đã từng được Pulitzer khi tường thuật Đệ Nhị Chiến, chín năm trước đó. Greene gặp anh ta năm 1951. Khi đó 43 tuổi, hào quang đã ở đằng sau, nhậu như hũ chìm. Khi, một tay nâng bi anh ta về bài viết, [Tên nó là gì nhỉ, Đường về Địa ngục, đáng Pulitzer quá đi chứ... ], Allen vặc lại: "Bộ anh nghĩ, tôi có ở đó hả? Stephen Crane đã từng miêu tả một cuộc chiến mà ông không có mặt, tại sao tôi không thể? Vả chăng, chỉ là một cuộc chiến thuộc địa nhơ bẩn. Cho ly nữa đi. Rồi tụi mình đi kiếm gái."

*
I shared a room that night with an American attached to an economic aid mission - the members were assumed by the French, probably correctly, to belong to the CIA. My companion bore no resemblance at all to Pyle, the quiet American of my story - he was a man of greater intelligence and of less innocence, but he lectured me all the long drive back to Saigon on the necessity of finding a 'third force in Vietnam'. I had never before come so close to the great American dream which was to bedevil affairs in the East as it was to do in Algeria. The only leader discernible for the 'third force' was the self· styled General The. At the time of my first visit to the Caodaists he had been a colonel in the army of the Caodaist Pope - a force of twenty thousand men which theoretically fought on the French side. They had their own munitions factory in the Holy See at Tay Ninh; they supplemented what small arms they could squeeze out of the French with mortars made from the exhaust pipes of old cars. An ingenious people - it was difficult not to suspect their type of ingenuity in the bicycle bombs which went off in Saigon the following year. The time-bombs were concealed in plastic containers made in the shape of bicycle pumps and the bicycles were left in the parks outside the ministries and propped against walls ... A bicycle arouses no attention in Saigon. It is as much a bicycle city as Copenhagen.
Between my two visits General The (he had promoted himself) had deserted from the Caodaist army with a few hundred men and was now installed on the Holy Mountain, outside Tay Ninh. He had declared war on both the French and the Communists. When my 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 The 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 was certainly evidence of contacts between the American services and General The. A jeep with the bodies of two American women was found by a French rubber planter on the route to the sacred mountain - presumably they had been killed by the Viet Minh, but what were they doing on the plantation? The bodies were promptly collected by the American Embassy, and nothing more was heard of the incident. Not a word appeared in the Press. An American consul was arrested late at night on the bridge to Dakow [DaKao ?], (where Pyle in my novel lost his life) carrying plastic bombs in his car. Again the incident was hushed up for diplomatic reasons.
So the subject of The Quiet American came to me, during that talk of a 'third force' on the road through the delta, and my characters quickly followed, all but one of them from the unconscious. The exception was Granger, the American newspaper correspondent. The press conference in Hanoi where he figures was recorded almost word for word in my journal at the time. Perhaps there is more direct reportage in 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 reportage. 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.
I went back to Indo-China for the fourth and last time in 1955 after the defeat of the French in the north, and with some difficulty I reached Hanoi - a sad city, abandoned by the French where I drank the last bottle of beer left in the cafe which I used to frequent with Monsieur Dupont. I was feeling very ill and tired and depressed. I sympathized with the victors, but I sympathized with the French too. The French classics were yet on view in a small secondhand bookshop which Monsieur Dupont had rifled a few years back, but a hundred years of French civilization had fled with the Catholic peasants to the south. The Metropole Hotel where I used to stay was in the hands of the International Commission. Viet Minh sentries stood outside the building where de Lattre had made his promise, 'I leave you my wife as a symbol that France will never, never ... '
Day after day passed while I tried to bully my way into the presence of Ho Chi Minh. It was the period of the crachin and my spirits sank with the thin day-long drizzle of warm rain. I told my contacts I could wait no longer - tomorrow I would return to what was left of French territory in the north.
I don't know why my blackmail succeeded, but I was summoned suddenly to take tea with Ho Chi Minh, and now I felt too ill for the meeting. There was only one thing to be done. I went back to an old Chinese chemist's shop in the rue des Voiles which I had visited the year before. The owner, it was said, was 'the Happiest Man in the World'. There I was able to smoke a few pipes of opium while the mah-jong pieces rattled like gravel on a beach. I had a passionate desire for the impossible - a bottle of Eno's. A messenger was dispatched and before the pipes were finished I received the impossible. I had drunk the last bottle of beer in Hanoi. Was this the last bottle of Eno's? Anyway the Eno's and the pipes took away the sickness and the inertia and gave me the energy to meet Ho Chi Minh at tea.
Of those four winters which I passed in Indo-China opium has left the happiest memory, and as it played an important part in the life of Fowler, my character in The Quiet American, I add a few memories from my journal concerning it, for I am reluctant to leave Indo-China for ever with only a novel to remember it by.
    31 December 1953. Saigon
One of the interests of far places is 'the friend of friends': some quality has attracted somebody you know, will it also attract yourself? This evening such a one came to see me, a naval doctor. After a whisky in my room, I drove round Saigon with him, on the back of his motorcycle, to a couple of opium fumeries. The first was a cheap one, on the first floor over a tiny school where pupils were prepared for 'le certificat et le brevet'. The proprietor was smoking himself: a malade imaginaire dehydrated by his sixty pipes a day. A young girl asleep, and a young boy. Opium should not be for the young, but as the Chinese believe for the middle-aged and the old. Pipes here cost 10 piastres each (say 2s.). Then we went on to a more elegant establishment - Chez Pola. Here one reserves the room and can bring a companion. A great Chinese umbrella over the big circular bed. A bookshelf full of books beside the bed - it was odd to find two of my own novels in a fumerie: Le Ministère de la Peur, and Rocher de Brighton. I wrote a dédicace in each of them. Here the pipes cost 30 piastres.
My experience of opium began in October 1951 when I was in Haiphong on the way to the Baie d' Along. A French official took me after dinner to a small apartment in a back street - I could smell the opium as I came up the stairs. It was like the first sight of a beautiful woman
Ways of escape

Cái cú bom nổ trên đường Catinat, mặc dù Mẽo nói, đây là tác phẩm của Bác Hồ, nhưng theo Greene, TMT hãnh diện tự nhận là tác giả.
Cái cú Greene blackmail Bác Hồ mà chẳng thú sao?
Nhưng thú nhất, có lẽ là những xen G. đi hít tô phe, và có lần thấy sách của mình ở tiệm hút, bèn lôi ra, viết lời đề tặng.
Ui chao, giá mà Gấu cũng có tí kỷ niệm này thì thật tuyệt. Tưởng tượng không thôi, vô một tiệm ở Cây Da Xà, thấy Những Ngày Ở Sài Gòn, trên giá sách, kế bên bàn đèn, là đã thấy sướng mê tơi rồi!
*

31 December 1953. Saigon
One of the interests of far places is 'the friend of friends': some quality has attracted somebody you know, will it also attract yourself? This evening such a one came to see me, a naval doctor. After a whisky in my room, I drove round
Saigon with him, on the back of his motorcycle, to a couple of opium fumeries. The first was a cheap one, on the first floor over a tiny school where pupils were prepared for 'le certificat et le brevet'. The proprietor was smoking himself: a malade imaginaire dehydrated by his sixty pipes a day. A young girl asleep, and a young boy. Opium should not be for the young, but as the Chinese believe for the middle-aged and the old. Pipes here cost 10 piastres each (say 2s.). Then we went on to a more elegant establishment - Chez Pola. Here one reserves the room and can bring a companion. A great Chinese umbrella over the big circular bed. A bookshelf full of books beside the bed - it was odd to find two of my own novels in a fumerie: Le Ministère de la Peur, and Rocher de Brighton. I wrote a dédicace in each of them. Here the pipes cost 30 piastres.
My experience of opium began in October 1951 when I was in
Haiphong on the way to the Baie d' Along. A French official took me after dinner to a small apartment in a back street - I could smell the opium as I came up the stairs. It was like the first sight of a beautiful woman with whom one realizes that a relationship is possible: somebody whose memory will not be dimmed by a night's sleep.
The madame decided that as I was a debutant I must have only four pipes, and so I am grateful to her that my first experience was delightful and not spoiled by the nausea of over-smoking. The ambiance won my heart at once - the hard couch, the leather pillow like a brick these stand for a certain austerity, the athleticism of pleasure, while the small lamp glowing on the face of the pipe-maker, as he kneads his little ball of brown gum over the flame until it bubbles and alters shape like a dream, the dimmed lights, the little chaste cups of unsweetened green tea, these stand for the' luxe et volupte'.
Each pipe from the moment the needle plunges the little ball home and the bowl is reversed over the flame lasts no more than a quarter of a minute - the true inhaler can draw a whole pipeful into his lungs in one long inhalation. After two pipes I felt a certain drowsiness, after four my mind felt alert and calm - unhappiness and fear of the future became like something dimly remembered which I had thought important once. I, who feel shy at exhibiting the grossness of my French, found myself reciting a poem of Baudelaire to my companion, that beautiful poem of escape, Invitation au Voyage. When I got home that night I experienced for the first time the white night of opium. One lies relaxed and wakeful, not wanting sleep. We dread wakefulness when our thoughts are disturbed, but in this state one is calm - it would be wrong even to say that one is happy - happiness disturbs the pulse. And then suddenly without warning one sleeps. Never has one slept so deeply a whole night-long sleep, and then the waking and the luminous dial of the clock showing that twenty minutes of so-called real time have gone by. Again the calm lying awake, again the deep brief all-night sleep. Once in Saigon after smoking I went to bed at 1.30 and had to rise again at 4.00 to catch a bomber to Hanoi, but in those less three hours I slept all tiredness away.
Not that night, but many nights later, I had a curiously vivid dream. One does not dream as a rule after smoking, though sometimes one wakes with panic terror; one dreams, they say, during disintoxication, like de Quincey, when the mind and the body are at war. I dreamed that in some intellectual discussion I made the remark, 'It would have been interesting if at the birth of Our Lord there had been present someone who saw nothing at all,' and then, in the way that dreams have, I was that man. The shepherds were kneeling in prayer, the Wise Men were offering their gifts (I can still see in memory the shoulder and red-brown robe of one of them - the Ethiopian), but they were praying to, offering gifts to, nothing - a blank wall. I was puzzled and disturbed. I thought, 'If they are offering to nothing, they know what they are about, so I will offer to nothing too,' and putting my hand in my pocket I found a gold piece with which I had intended to buy myself a woman in Bethlehem. Years later I was reading one of the gospels and recognized the scene at which I had been an onlooker . “So they were offering their gifts to the mother of God,” I thought. 'Well, I brought that gold piece to Bethlehem to give to a woman, and it seems I gave it to a woman after all.'
10 January 1954. Hanoi
With French friends to the Chinese quarter of Hanoi. We called first for our Chinese friend living over his warehouse of dried medicines from Hong Kong - bales and bales and bales of brittle quackery. The family were all gathered in one upper room with the dog and the cat - husband and wife, daughters, grandparents, cousins. After a cup of tea we paid a visit to a relative - variously known as Serpent Head and the Happiest Man in the World. All these Chinese houses have little frontage, but run back a long way from the street. The Happiest Man in the World sat there between the narrow walls like a tunnel, in thin pajamas - he never troubled to dress. He was rich and he had inherited the business from his father before it was necessary for him to work and when his sons were already old enough to do the work for him. He was like a piece of dried medicine himself, skeletonized by opium. In the background the mah-jong players built their walls, demolished, reshuffled. They didn't even have to look at the pieces they drew, they could tell the design by a touch of the finger. The game made a noise like a stormy tide turning the shingle on a beach. I smoked two pipes as an aperitif, and after dinner at the New Pagoda returned and smoked five more.
11 January 1954. Hanoi
Dinner with French friends and afterwards smoked six pipes. Gunfire and the heavy sound of helicopters low over the roofs bringing the wounded from - somewhere. The nearer you are to war, the less you know what is happening. The daily paper in Hanoi prints less than the daily paper in Saigon, and that prints less than the papers in Paris. The noise of the helicopters had an odd effect on opium smoking. It drowned the soft bubble of the wax over the flame, and because the pipe was silent, the opium seemed to lose a great deal of its perfume, in the way that a cigarette loses taste in the open air.
12 January 1954. Vientiane
Up early to catch a military plane to Vientiane, the administrative capital of Laos. The plane was a freighter with no seats. I sat on a packing case and was glad to arrive.
After lunch I made a rapid tour of Vientiane. Apart from one pagoda and the long sands of the Mekong river, it is an uninteresting town consisting only of two real streets, one European restaurant, a club, the usual grubby market where apart from food there is only the debris of civilization - withered tubes of toothpaste, shop-soiled soaps, pots and pans from the Bon Marche. Fishes were small and expensive and covered with flies. There were little packets of dyed sweets and sickly cakes made out of rice colored mauve and pink. The fortune-maker of Vientiane was a man with a small site let out as a bicycle park - hundreds of bicycles at 2 piastres a time (say 20 centimes). When he had paid for his concession he was likely to make 600 piastres a day profit (say 6,000 francs). But in Eastern countries there are always wheels within wheels, and it was probable that the concessionaire was only the ghost for one of the princes.
Sometimes one wonders why one bothers to travel, to come eight thousand miles to find only Vientiane at the end of the road, and yet there is a curious satisfaction later, when one reads in England the war communiqués and the familiar names start from the page - Nam Dinh, Vientiane, Luang Prabang -looking so important temporarily on a newspaper page as though part of history, to remember them in terms of mauve rice cakes, the rat crossing the restaurant floor as it did tonight until it was chased away behind the bar. Places in history, one learns, are not so important.
After dinner to the house of Mr. X, a Eurasian and a habitual smoker. Thinned by his pipes, with bony wrists and ankles and the arms of a small boy, Mr. X was a charming and melancholy companion. He spoke beautifully clear French, peering down at his needle through steel-rimmed spectacles. His house was a hovel too small for him to find room for his wife and child whom he had left in Phnom Penh. There was nothing to do in the evening - the cinema showed only the oldest films, and there was really nothing to do all day either, but wait outside the government office where he was employed on small errands. A palm tree was his bookcase and he would slip his book or his newspaper into the crevices of the trunk when summoned into the house. Once I needed some wrapping paper and he went to the palm tree to see whether he had any saved. His opium was excellent, pure Laos opium, and he prepared the pipes admirably. Soon his French employers would be packing up in Laos, he would go to France, he would have no more opium - all the ease of life would vanish but he was incapable of considering the future. His sad amused Asiatic face peered down at the pipe while his bony fingers kneaded and warmed the brown seed of contentment, and he spoke musically and precisely like a don on the types and years of opium - the opium of Laos, Yunan, Szechuan, Istanbul, Benares - ah, Benares, that was a kind to remember over the years. *
13 January 1954
On again to Luang Prabang. Where Vientiane has two streets Luang Prabang has one, some shops, a tiny modest royal palace (the King is as poor as the state) and opposite the palace a steep hill crowned by a pagoda which contains - so it is believed - the giant footprint of Buddha. Little side streets run down to the Mekong, here full of water. There is a sense of trees, temples, small quiet homes, river and peace. One can see the whole town in half an hour's walk, and one could live here, one feels, for weeks, working, walking, sleeping, if the Viet Minh were not on their way down from the mountains. We determined, tomorrow before returning, to take a boat up the Mekong to the grotto and the statue of Buddha which protects Luang Prabang from her enemies. There is more atmosphere of prayer in a pagoda than in most churches. The features of Buddha cannot be sentimentalized like the features of Christ, there are no hideous pictures on the wall, no stations of the Cross, no straining after unfelt agonies. I found myself praying to Buddha as always when I enter a pagoda, for now surely he is among our saints and his intercession will be as powerful as the Little Flower's - perhaps more powerful here among a race akin to his own.
After dinner I was very tired, but five pipes of inferior opium - bitter with dross - smoked in a chauffeur's house made me feel fresh again. It was a house on piles and at the end of the long narrow veranda, screened from the dark and the mosquitoes, a small son knelt at a table doing his lessons while his mother squatted beside him. The soft recitation of his lesson accompanied the murmur and the bubble of the pipe.
16 January 1954. Saigon .
Laos remained careless Laos till the end. f was worried by the late arrival of the car and only just caught the plane which left the airfield at 7.00 in the dark. Two stops on the way to Saigon. I got in about 12.30. Why is it that Saigon is always so good to come back to? I remember on my first journey to Africa, when I walked across Liberia, I used to dream of the delights of a hot bath, a good meal, a comfortable bed. I wanted to go straight from the African hut with the rats
* A connoisseur would say 'The number 1 Xieng Khouang opium of Laos' when referring to the best opium from this country. (As, for instance, rubber from Malaya is described as Number1R.S.S.) Xieng Khouang is a province to the north-east of Vientiane where the best opium is grown.
running down the wall at night to some luxury hotel in Europe and enjoy the contrast. In fact one never satisfactorily found the contrast - either in Liberia or later in Mexico. Civilization was always broken to one slowly: the trader's establishment at Grand Bassa was a great deal better than the jungle, the Consulate at Monrovia was better than the tradesman's house, the cargo boat was an approach to civilization, by the time one reached England the contrast had been completely lost. Here in Indo-China one does capture the contrast: Vientiane is a century away from Saigon.
18 January 1954
After drinking with M and D of the Sureté and a dinner with a number of people from the Legation, I returned early to the hotel in order to meet a police commissioner (half-caste) and two Vietnamese plainclothes men who were going to take me on a tour of Saigon's night side. Our first fumerie was in the paillote district - a district of thatched houses in a bad state of repair. In a small yard off the main street one found a complete village life - there was a cafe, a restaurant, a brothel, a fumerie. We climbed up a wooden ladder to an attic immediately under the thatch. The sloping roof was too low to stand upright, so that one could only crawl from the ladder on to one of the two big double mattresses spread on the floor covered with a clean white sheet. A cook was fetched and a girl, an attractive, dirty, slightly squint-eyed girl, who had obviously been summoned for my private pleasure. The police commissioner said, 'There is a saying that a pipe prepared by a woman is more sweet.' In fact the girl only went through the motions of warming the opium bead for a moment before handing it over to the expert cook. Not knowing how many fumeries the night would produce I smoked only two pipes, and after the first pipe the Vietnamese police scrambled discreetly down the ladder so that I could make use of the double bed. This I had no wish to do. If there had been no other reason it would still have been difficult to concentrate on pleasure, with the three Vietnamese police officers at the bottom of the ladder, a few feet away, listening and drinking cups of tea. My only word of Vietnamese was 'No,' and the girl's only word of English was 'OK,' and it became a polite struggle between the two phrases.
At the bottom of the ladder I had a cup of tea with the police officers and the very beautiful madame who had the calm face of a young nun. I tried to explain to the Vietnamese commissioner that my interest tonight was in ambiance only. This dampened the spirits of the party.
I asked them whether they could show me a more elegant brothel and they drove at once towards the outskirts of the city. It was now about one o'clock in the morning. We stopped by a small wayside café and entered. Immediately inside the door there was a large bed with a tumble of girls on it and one man emerging from the flurry. I caught sight of a face, a sleeve, a foot. We went through to the cafe and drank orangeade. The madame reminded me of the old Javanese bawd in South Pacific. When we left the man on the bed had gone and a couple of Americans sat among the girls, waiting for their pipes. One was bearded and gold-spectacled and looked like a professor and the other was wearing shorts. The night was very mosquitoes and he must have been bitten almost beyond endurance. Perhaps this made his temper short. He seemed to think we had come in to close the place and resented me.
After the loud angry voices of the Americans, the bearded face and the fat knees, it was a change to enter a Chinese fumerie in Cholon. Here in this place of bare wooden shelves were quiet and courtesy. The price of pipes - one price for small pipes and one price for large pipes - hung on the wall. I had never seen this before in a fumerie. I smoked two pipes only and the Chinese proprietor refused to allow me to pay. He said I was the first European to smoke there and that he would not take my money. It was 2.30 and I went home to bed. I had disappointed my Vietnamese companions. In the night I woke dispirited by the faults of the play I was writing, The Potting Shed, and tried unsuccessfully to revise it in my mind.
20 January 1954. Phnom Penh
After dinner my host and I drove to the centre of Phnom Penh and parked the car. I signaled to a rickshaw driver, putting my thumb in my mouth and making a gesture rather like a long nose. This is always understood to mean that one wants to smoke. He led us to a rather dreary yard off the rue A -. There were a lot of dustbins, a rat moved among them, and a few people lay under shabby mosquito-nets. Upstairs on the first floor, off a balcony, was the fumerie. It was fairly full and the trousers were hanging like banners in a cathedral nave. I had eight pipes and a distinguished looking man in underpants helped to translate my wishes. He was apparently a teacher of English.
9 February 1954. Saigon
After dinner at the Arc-en-Ciel, to the fumerie opposite the Casino above the school. I had only five pipes, but that night was very dopey. First I had a nightmare, then I was haunted by squares - architectural squares which reminded me of Angkor, equal distances, etc., and then mathematical squares - people's income, etc., square after square after square which seemed to go on all night. At last I woke and when I slept again I had a strange complete dream such as I have experienced only after opium. I was coming down the steps of a club in St James's Street and on the steps I met the Devil who was wearing a tweed motoring coat and a deerstalker cap. He had long black Edwardian moustaches. In the street a girl, with whom I was apparently living, was waiting for me in a car. The Devil stopped me and asked whether I would like to have a year to live again or to skip a year and see what would be happening to me two years from now. I told him I had no wish to live over any year again and I would like to have a glimpse of two years ahead. Immediately the Devil vanished and I was holding in my hands a letter. I opened the letter - it was from some girl whom I knew only slightly. It was a very tender letter, and a letter of farewell. Obviously during that missing year we had reached a relationship which she was now ending. Looking down at the woman in the car I thought, ‘I must not show her the letter, for how absurd it would be if she were to be jealous of a girl whom I don't yet know.' I went into my room (I was no longer in the club) and tore the letter into small pieces, but at the bottom of the envelope were some beads which must have had a sentimental significance. I was unwilling to destroy these and opening a drawer put them in and locked the drawer. As I did so it suddenly occurred to me, ‘In two years' time I shall be doing just this, opening a drawer, putting away the beads, and finding the beads are already in the drawer.' Then I woke.
There remains another memory which I find it difficult to dispel, the doom-laden twenty-fours I spent in Dien Bien Phu in January 1954. Nine years later when I was asked by the Sunday Times to write on ‘a decisive battle of my choice', it was Dien Bien Phu that came straightway to my mind.
Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World - Sir Edward Creasy gave that classic title to his book in 1851, but it is doubtful whether any battle listed there was more decisive than Dien Bien Phu in 1954. Even Sedan, which came too late for Creasy, was only an episode in Franco-German relations, decisive for the moment in a provincial dispute, but the decision was to be reversed in 1918, and that decision again in 1940.
Dien Bien Phu, however, was a defeat for more than the French army. The battle marked virtually the end of any hope the Western Powers might have entertained that they could dominate the East. The French with Cartesian clarity accepted the verdict. So, too, to a lesser extent, did the British: the independence of Malaya, whether the Malays like to think it or not, was won for them when the Communist forces of General Giap, an ex-geography professor of Hanoi University, defeated the forces of General Navarre, ex-cavalry officer, ex-Deuxieme Bureau chief, at Dien Bien Phu. (That young Americans were still to die in Vietnam only shows that it takes time for the echoes even of a total defeat to encircle the globe.)
The battle itself, the heroic stand of Colonel de Castries' men while the conference of the Powers at Geneva dragged along, through the debates on Korea, towards the second item on the agenda - Indo-China - every speech in Switzerland punctuated by deaths in that valley in Tonkin - has been described many times. Courage will always find a chronicler, but what remains a mystery to this day is why the battle was ever fought at all, why twelve battalions of the French army were committed to the defence of an armed camp situated in a hopeless geographical terrain-hopeless for defence and hopeless for the second objective, since the camp was intended to be the base of offensive operations. (For this purpose a squadron of ten tanks was assembled there, the components dropped by parachute.)
A commission of inquiry was appointed in Paris after the defeat, but no conclusion was ever reached. A battle of words followed the carnage. Monsieur Laniel, who was Prime Minister when the decision was taken to fight at Dien Bien Phu, published his memoirs, which attacked the strategy and conduct of General Navarre, and General Navarre published his memoirs attacking M. Laniel and the_politicians of Paris. M. Laniel's book was called Le Drame Indo-Chinois and General Navarre's Agonie de l'Indo-Chine, a difference in title which represents the difference between the war as seen in Paris and the war as seen in Hanoi.
For the future historian the difference between the titles will seem smaller than the contradictions in the works themselves. Accusations are bandied back and forth between the politician who had never visited the scene of the war and the general who had known it only for a matter of months when the great error was made.
The war, which had begun in September 1946, was, in 1953, reaching a period for the troops not so much of exhaustion as of cynicism and dogged pride - they believed in no solution but were not prepared for any surrender. In the southern delta around Saigon it had been for a long while a war of ambush and attrition - in Saigon itself of sudden attacks by handmade and bombs; in the north, in Tonkin, the French defence against the Viet Minh depended on the so-called lines of Hanoi established by General de Lattre. The lines were not real lines; Viet Minh regiments would appear out of the rice-fields in sudden attacks close to Hanoi itself before they vanished again into the mud. I was witness of one such attack at Phat Diem, and in Bui Chu, well within the lines, sleep was disturbed by mortar-fire until dawn. While it was the avowed purpose of the High Command to commit the Viet Minh to a major action, it became evident with the French evacuation of Hoa Binh, which de Lattre had taken with the loss, it was popularly believed, of one man, that General Giap was no less anxious to commit the French army, on ground of his own choosing.
Salan succeeded de Lattre, and Navarre succeeded Salan, and every year the number of officers killed was equal to a whole class at Saint-Cyr (the war was a drain mainly on French officers, for National Service troops were not employed in Indo-China on the excuse that this was not a war, but a police action). Something somewhere had to give, and what gave was French intelligence in both senses of the word.
There is a bit of a schoolmaster in an intelligence officer; he imbibes information at second hand and passes it on too often as gospel truth. Giap being an ex-professor, it was thought suitable perhaps to send against him another schoolmaster, but· Giap was better acquainted with his subject - the geography of his own northern country.
The French for years had been acutely sensitive to the Communist menace to the kingdom of Laos on their flank. The little umbrageous royal capital of Luang Prabang, on the banks of the Mekong, consisting mainly of Buddhist temples, was threatened every campaigning season by Viet Minh guerrilla regiments, but I doubt whether the threat was ever as serious as the French supposed. Ho Chi Minh can hardly have been anxious to add a Buddhist to a Catholic problem in the north, and Luang Prabang remained inviolate. But the threat served its purpose. The French left their 'lines'.
In November 1953, six parachute battalions dropped on Dien Bien Phu, a plateau ten miles by five, surrounded by thickly wooded hills, all in the hands of the enemy. When I visited the camp for twenty-four hours in January 1954, the huge logistic task had been accomplished; the airstrip was guarded by strongpoint’s on small hills, there were trenches, underground dug-outs, and miles and miles and miles of wire. (General Navarre wrote with Maginot pride of his wire.) The number of battalions had been doubled, the tanks assembled, the threat to Luang Prabang had been contained, if such a threat really existed, but at what a cost.
It is easy to have hindsight, but what impressed me as I flew in on a transport plane from Hanoi, three hundred kilometres away, over mountains impassable to a mechanized force, was the vulnerability and the isolation of the camp. It could be reinforced - or evacuated - only by air, except by the route to Laos, and as we came down towards the landing -strip I was uneasily conscious of flying only a few hundred feet above the invisible enemy.
General Navarre writes with naivete and pathos, 'There was not one civil or military authority who visited the camp (French or foreign ministers, French chiefs of staff, American generals) who was not struck by the strength of the defences …. To my knowledge no one expressed any doubt before the attack about the possibilities of resistance.' Is anyone more isolated from human contact than a commander-in-chief?
One scene of evil augury comes back to my mind. We were drinking Colonel de Castries' excellent wine at lunch in the mess, and the colonel, who had the nervy histrionic features of an old-time actor, overheard the commandant of his artillery discussing with another officer the evacuation of the French post of Na-San during the last campaigning season. De Castries struck his fist on the table and cried out with a kind of Shakespearian hysteria, 'Be silent. I will not have Na-San mentioned in this mess. Na-San was a defensive post. This is an offensive one.' There was an uneasy silence until de Castries' seconding-command asked me whether I had seen Claudel's Christophe Colombe as I passed through Paris. (The officer who had mentioned Na-San was to shoot himself during the siege.)
After lunch, as I walked round the intricate entrenchments, I asked an officer, 'What did the colonel mean? An offensive post?' He waved at the surrounding hills: 'We should need a thousand mules - not a squadron of tanks - to take the offensive.'
M. Laniel writes of the unreal optimism which preceded the attack. In Hanoi optimism may have prevailed, but not in the camp itself. The defences were out of range of mortar fire from the surrounding hills, but not an officer doubted that heavy guns were on the way from the Chinese frontier (guns elaborately camouflaged, trundled in by bicycle along almost impassable ways by thousands of coolies - a feat more brilliant than the construction of the camp). Any night they expected a bombardment to open. It was no novelist's imagination which felt the atmosphere heavy with doom, for these men were aware of what they resembled - sitting ducks.
In the meanwhile, before the bombardment opened, the wives and sweethearts of officers visited them in the camp by transport plane for a few daylight hours: ardent little scenes took place in dug-outs - it was pathetic and forgivable, even though it was not war. The native contingents, too, had their wives - more permanently - with them, and it was a moving sight to see a woman suckling her baby beside a sentry under waiting hills. It wasn't war, it wasn't optimism - it was the last chance.
The Viet Minh had chosen the ground for their battle by their menace to Laos. M. Laniel wrote that it would have been better to have lost Laos for the moment than to have lost both Laos and the French army, and he put the blame on the military command. General Navarre in return accused the French Government of insisting at all costs on the defence of Laos.
All reason for the establishment of the camp seems to disappear in the debate - somebody somewhere misunderstood, and passing the buck became after the battle a new form of logistics. Only the Viet Minh dispositions make sense, though even there a mystery remains. With their artillery alone the Communists could have forced the surrender of Dien Bien Phu. A man cannot be evacuated by parachute, and the airstrip was out of action a few days after the assault began.
A heavy fog, curiously not mentioned by either General Navarre or M. Laniel, filled the cup among the hills every night around ten, and it did not lift again before eleven in the morning. (How impatiently I waited for it to lift after my night in a dug-out.) During that period parachute supplies were impossible and it was equally impossible for planes from Hanoi to spot the enemy's guns. Under these circumstances why inflict on one's own army twenty thousand casualties by direct assault?
But the Great Powers had decided to negotiate, the Conference of Geneva had opened in the last week of April with Korea first on the agenda, and individual lives were not considered important. It was preferable as propaganda for General Giap to capture the post by direct assault during the course of the Geneva Conference. The assault began on 13 March 1954, and Dien Bien Phu fell on 7 May, the day before the delegates turned at last from the question of Korea to the question of Indo-China.
But General Giap could not be confident that the politicians of the West, who showed a certain guilt towards the defenders of Dien Bien Phu while they were discussing at such length the problem of Korea, would have continued to talk long enough to give him time to reduce Dien Bien Phu by artillery alone.
So the battle had to be fought with the maximum of human suffering and loss. M. Mendes-France, who had succeeded M; Laniel, needed his excuse for surrendering the north of Vietnam just as General Giap needed his spectacular victory by frontal assault before the forum of the Powers to commit Britain and America to a division of the country.
The Sinister Spirit sneered: 'It had to be!'
And again the Spirit of Pity whispered, 'Why?'

Epilogue
The Other
THIS book has not been a self-portrait. I leave such a portrait to my friends and enemies. All the same, I did find myself for many years in search of someone who called himself Graham Greene.
When I bought Edward Thomas's Collected Poems more than fifty years ago, one poem called 'The Other' haunted me, though I didn't know why. It was not one of Thomas's best poems. It told of a traveler who along his road, at this inn or that, continually stumbled on the trace of someone exactly like himself who had preceded him along the same route.
I learnt his road and, e'er they were
Sure I was I, left the dark wood
Behind, kestrel and woodpecker,
The inn and the sun, the happy mood
When first I tasted sunlight there.
I travelled fast, in hopes I should
Out run that other, what to do
When caught, I planned not, I pursued
To prove the likeness, and if true
To watch until myself I knew.
The poem ends,
He goes: I follow: no release
Until he ceases. Then I also shall cease.
Some quarter of a century after I first read that poem, I came myself on the Other's tracks, and few years have passed since without signs of his passage: letters from strangers who remember me at a wedding I never attended or serving a Mass I never served - once a telephone call from a woman in Rome, even photographs in a Geneva newspaper and a Jamaican one. The Other calls himself Graham perhaps his name is Graham Greene - there's no copyright in names -though there are reasons to suppose that he was a certain John Skinner, a notorious jail-breaker, or according to the Indian police someone with the improbable name of Meredith de Varg. He may be both - for there is no resemblance between the two blurred photographs I possess, both claiming to be me.
It was a little case of blackmail which brought the Other first to my attention. My friend Alex Korda rang me up one afternoon in London. 'Have you been in trouble?' he asked.
'Trouble?'
'The editor of a film magazine in Paris has telephoned me.
He's very distressed because he has found that one of his employees has tried to blackmail you.'
'But I haven't been in Paris and I haven't been blackmailed.' I remembered our conversation the next time I was in Paris when my friend and literary agent, Marie Biche, said, apropos of nothing, 'If anyone tried to blackmail you, you'd come to me, wouldn't you? You wouldn't pay up.'
'Blackmail me about what?'
'Oh, something about photographs with women - I don't know - there's a story going round.'
It was the year 1955-6. The Other was very active that year.
Stray bits of his past gathered round me - they could so easily have been bits of my own past. The editor of Mondanités (' Revue de l'élite francaise') wrote to me reminding me of our meeting at the Cannes Film Festival (which I had never attended) and praising my talent for tennis which I haven't played since I was a schoolboy. 'J'ai eu la joie de vous voir fréquemment sur les courts de tennis, car votre talent litteraire ne cède en rien à vos qualités sportives.' A woman wrote to me from Montevideo: 'You once took me to have coffee in a Belgian pastry shop on a corner of Oxford Street (does it still exist?) and you introduced me to a girl from up North with whom you were very much in love. Did you marry her? You came to my wedding in November 1935 and I left for S. America soon after.' The Other certainly seemed to leave strong impressions behind, particularly on women.
It was a woman's voice which spoke to me on the telephone at the Grand Hotel, Rome (I had gone to bed early after a long flight from Calcutta). 'Hullo, Graham, this is Veronica.'
'Oh yes, how are you?' Who the hell, 1 wondered, was Veronica?
'I rang up the George V in Paris and they said you had left for Rome. I know you always stay at the Grand' - which was true enough.
'Yes, I've just arrived. What are you doing?' I asked, to delay the conversation in hope of a clue. I had forgotten the Other and thought it just possible that I had once known someone called Veronica.
'I am lying in bed and reading the Odyssey in the new Penguin translation.'
'I'm in bed too. What about a drink tomorrow? I'm so sorry, but I'm fixed for meals,' I added with caution.
Next evening I went with a friend and waited in the bar. He agreed to speak to her if she were unknown to me and not attractive. A woman in her forties entered in a long evening dress, with the extended face of an upper-class horse. I left her for my friend to deal with. He told me later that she was American and had met Graham Greene in Arabia.
It was that summer, I think, that the Other hit the headlines. I had been in Brighton for a few days and returning to London I found an inquiry from Picture Post. They had received a telegram signed Graham Greene, dated from Assam, asking for a hundred pounds because the sender was in a kind of imbroglio with the Indian police as he had lost his passport. The editor had sent someone to Albany, off Piccadilly, where I had chambers, to inquire whether I was, in fact, in India. The porter replied with wise caution that he had not seen me for several days, so perhaps I was, and Picture Post telegraphed a hundred pounds to India. Then, of course, the news began to break. Indian Press stories percolated through - 'Graham Greene Convicted. Sentenced to Two Years RI [rigorous imprisonment],' as well as the only authentic letter I have seen from the Other himself. With its quiet assumption that he was on a mission for Picture Post it must have been written to convince the police - he could never have expected it would convince Picture Post.
The Other wrote in a breezy Sapper style from Duklingia, Assam.
Gentlemen,
Possibly by this time, swarms of flatfooted policemen, intelligence agents in false beards and other peculiar characters have been swarming over the building asking questions about me. Graham Greene has suddenly become NEWS. A few days ago someone most unkindly pinched my bags, cash and passport. I accordingly as in duty bound telegraphed the information to the UK REP, the High Commission in Calcutta, asking them to make arrangements for my passage to Calcutta. They, in turn, having nasty minds, asked the local police to check up, which was, under the circumstances, a most stupid thing to do. This is a DISTURBED area and finding they had in their midst an unidentifiable foreigner, they were delighted, classed me as an agent of a foreign power engaged in assisting and advising the hostile NAOAS, and promptly locked me up. This, when I have recovered, will make an excellent supplement to the article as yet unborn on the NAGA PROBBLEM. Two local tea planters, with infinite kindness, came along to court this morning and bailed me out, otherwise I should have remained there for God-knows how long.
You have probably by this time received OIL and FLOOD. Father Christmas has gone up to Amritsar to snap the local temples and bearded Sikh gentlemen. He has missed the scoop of the century by failing to record for posterity - British Correspondent behind bars. I don't intend to give him another opportunity!
I now, very desperately, need some money. Please forward to this address, forthwith (or sooner) a hundred or so. Make sure there are no snags as to exchange control, otherwise it might be possible to arrange something through Orient Longmans at Calcutta.
There doesn't seem to be much else. JUNGLE RECLAMATION will have to wait until I have taken a deep breath. The NAGA PROBLEM is still a problem - to me anyway. Everyone assures me that everything is now under control and that the bad boys are behaving themselves. I being a born cynic feel otherwise. It is extremely difficult to persuade the powers that be that I am simply a newsman after the truth. Much as I wish to write what promises to be the most fascinating article, the difficulties are stupendous. Perhaps after all, they do NOT wish the truth to be published.
Sincerely, Graham Greene
I suggested to Picture Post that they might send me to interview the Other in his Assam prison, but I was deterred by the thought that it was the monsoon season and by a conversation I had on the telephone with an official at the High Commissioner's office in London. He warned me to give him advance notice of my leaving for Calcutta, otherwise I would be in danger of arrest on arrival as the Other had broken his bail. Not only had he broken bail, but he had gone off with a typewriter, a wrist watch and some clothes of the tea planters who had befriended him. An Indian friend wrote me further details: 'It appears that he calls himself at times Graham Greene and at other times Graham Green - without the "e". He's supposed to be an Australian by birth, but this is only a conjecture (from his accent) for he has no identity papers with him. For a long time he has been moving about from one tea estate to another, living on charity, living the life of a tramp and claiming to be a professional writer.'
Re-arrested, the Other disappeared for a time into an Indian prison, but even in these straits he had a woman to speak up for him, although she had not seen him for a dozen years. She wrote to me from Bournemouth asking me to help him. 'Mr. Graham Greene is a man of courage and is not indifferent to principles, and although he may have been in a forbidden place, due to his roving adventurous spirit, I do feel sure that the charge against him is without much foundation.' Adventurous spirit indeed. 'The accused was wanted,' the Statesman of Calcutta reported, 'in a series of cases in Calcutta, Patna, Ranchi, Lucknow, Meerut, Poona, Bombay, Delhi and other places.' A lot for one man: perhaps he was both John Skinner and Meredith de Varg.
For nearly two years I heard nothing more of the Other; he went out of my mind until one day I was booking a passage to New York in the BOAC office. 'Are you staying only one night in New York?' the girl asked me with surprise.
'No. I'm not sure how long .. .'
'But we have you booked next day on the return flight New York - London.'
Could the other passenger be the Other returning from jail in India? One thing is certain, that in December 1959 he had come back into circulation. Marie Biche wrote to me that month to tell me that an attractive young Frenchwoman had gone to apply for a job with an American businessman staying at the Hotel Prince de Galles. After being interviewed by him in the lobby and having failed to get the job because she didn't have English shorthand, she was stopped on the way out by another American who gave his name as Peters or something similar. He told her that he . had overheard part of the conversation and understood she was looking for a job; he was on the lookout for a secretary for his friend and partner, the writer Graham Greene, who was coming to Paris to work for two months before going on a trip of several months across the United States, where he would be renting a house here and there as he travelled around, a habit of his as he couldn't work in hotels. Would she like to be offered the post?
The girl was working part-time in a Paris bookshop, and feeling that the job sounded too good to be true she called up my publisher, who put her on to Marie. In between she had checked with the Prince de Galles and learned that they had no one by the name of Peters staying there. Marie suggested it would be worth going to the appointment to try and lead the man on to volunteer a little more about himself and his partner, but the girl wouldn't go as she was convinced that Peters was a scout for a white slavery gang. He had said that, if she had a nice friend who would like to come along as a housekeeper for Graham Greene on his American tour, it would be possible to arrange it as he was looking for someone to fill that post too.
It was the last big intrusion of the Other into my life - the rest have been only passing appearances: for example a photograph in a Jamaican paper of 'Famed Novelist Graham Greene and Missus drink with the Scudders (centre) at Galleon Club.' Everyone is laughing, glass in hand; the Other with Pompidou eyebrows is very debonair in a white jacket, and Missus is an attractive woman. Neither corresponds with a photograph in La Tribune de Geneve of Mr. and Mrs. Graham Greene at the airport of Cointrin - a man much older than I was then, a bit travel-worn and wearing an absurd little tweed hat, an out-of-focus woman in a toque and dark glasses. 'Thick set, a pipe between his teeth, the British writer Graham Greene arrived yesterday afternoon [7 July 1967] at Cointrin. Coming from Paris where he lives now the author of The Third Man has begun his wandering holidays at Geneva.' Asked whether he was writing a new book, he said no, he was taking a true holiday.
Was the lady with him Claudine, or was Claudine the more glamorous woman in Jamaica drinking with the Scudders? It was in 1970 I first learnt of Claudine in a letter addressed to her (as Mrs Graham Greene) from Cape Town. 'I called in at the club yesterday ... By subtle steering 1 learnt that you had forsaken the steamy parts of Africa and had married a really distinguished author .. Being an author's wife will be right down your street and I am sure you must be of enormous assistance to your husband.' Nearly twenty years had passed since the blackmailing in Paris: the Other seemed to be settling down.
He goes: I follow: no release
Until he ceases.
Some years ago in Chile, after I had been entertained at lunch by President Allende, a right-wing paper in Santiago announced to its readers that the President had been deceived by an impostor. I found myself shaken by a metaphysical doubt. Had I been the impostor all the time? Was I the Other? Was I Skinner? Was it even possible that I might be Meredith de Varg?

Epilogue
The Other
THIS book has not been a self-portrait. I leave such a portrait to my friends and enemies. All the same, I did find myself for many years in search of someone who called himself Graham Greene.
Kẻ Khác.
Cuốn sách này không phải một thứ chân dung tự thuật. Tớ để việc đó cho bạn bè và kẻ thù. Tuy nhiên, trong nhiều năm tớ đặt tớ vào cái tình trạng tìm kiếm, truy lùng một thằng cha nào đó, tự coi nó là Graham Greene.
He goes: I follow: no release
Until he ceases.
Some years ago in Chile, after I had been entertained at lunch by President Allende, a right-wing paper in Santiago announced to its readers that the President had been deceived by an impostor. I found myself shaken by a metaphysical doubt. Had I been the impostor all the time? Was I the Other?....
Hắn đi, tớ đi, không nhả
Cho tới khi hắn ngưng đi.
Cách đây vài năm ở Chilê, sau khi tớ dùng cơm với Tổng thống Allende, một tờ báo tả phái loan tin cho độc giả của họ, Tổng thống bị lừa bởi một tên giả mạo. Một nỗi hồ nghi siêu hình khuấy đảo t
: Hay là suốt đời mình là một tên giả mạo? Tớ là Kẻ Khác kia?

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