of fiction : Graham Greene's adventures in Haiti and Central
America, 1954-1983 / Bernard Diederich. - London, Chicago :
Owen, 2012. - 315 p.- p. of pl. : ill.,
In 1965, Graham Greene joined journalist Bernard Diederich in the
Dominican Republic to embark on a tour of its border with Haiti, then
ruled by « Papa Doc » Duvalier.
accompanied by an activist priest, Jean-Claude
Diederich had known Greene since the mid-1950s and had lived in Haiti
for 14 years. He was a seasoned correspondent for the British and North
American press and had reported many stories from the region, including
Castro's triumph in Cuba and the death of the Dominican dictator,
Trujillo. In 1963, he had been thrown out of Haiti and when Greene
arrived was working from the Dominican Republic. The famous novelist
was 61 and depressed having struggled to finish A Burnt-Out Case
and was being plagued by religious doubt ; Bajeux, meanwhile,
been informed that his family had been
« disappeared » by Duvalier's
henchmen. As this
trio travelled along the border they met a number of rebels and other
characters later fictionalized in Greene's most politically charged
novel, The Comedians,
published the following year.
major new biography finally and fully illuminates a pivotal episode in
Greene's life and career in the kind of detail that will sate any fans
of Graham Greene's work, but also provides a fascinating glimpse into a
writer's life, making it an essential purchase for fans of literary
biography. Including extensive new archive material on Greene and
exclusive, never-before-seen photographs of Greene on his travels, this
book tells the story of how a series of extraordinary and often
hair-raising journeys gave one of the greatest novelists of the 20th
century new inspiration in his writing.
en 1926 en Nouvelle-Zélande, Bernard Diederich
Haïti en 1949, décide d'y vivre et crée
hebdomadaire en langue anglaise, the Haiti Sun ;
il devient également correspondant d'agences et de journaux
anglo-saxons (New York
Daily Telegraph entre autres). En 1963 il est
expulsé d'Haïti par Duvalier et s'installe en
Diederich et Graham Greene ont fait connaissance en 1954
— début d'une amitié durable.
En 1965, le
romancier demande au journaliste d'organiser un voyage au plus
près de la frontière entre Haïti et la
République dominicaine. Pour de multiples raisons, c'est une
expédition hasardeuse, mais riche en information, en
émotions et, même quand la tension culmine, non
récit de Bernard
Diederich éclaire la personnalité du romancier et
précise les circonstances de la genèse des Comédiens
(dont l'édition originale est parue en 1966), en insistant
portée militante du roman — pour Graham
c'était un témoignage sur la dictature, et le
il disposait pour la combattre.
We had reached the centre of the island of Hispaniola and the
so-called International Road, which was a 54-mile stretch of mostly
gravel and grass that passed for a road and wound back and forth
through Haitian territory alongside the Libon River.
something is going to happen it will be along this
stretch, » I said. « We should be
Graham stared out the window. « I have
never felt such
pervasive fear in a country as in Haiti, » he
words were always measured, like those slow miles of the rough border
track, even though he had to raise his voice above the rhythmic
rattling of the little Volkswagen engine.
We continued. And a few minutes later Graham sounded the
« There in the hill. » He
« Tontons Macoutes. »
who had been sleeping in the back, was now wide-awake. The hill was on
the Haitian side. But Graham's sighting was not confirmed.
« We are a
good target, » he said, still scanning the low brown
We were the only target, I
Both countries were supposed to have maintained this section
the road, which crisscrossed the boundary, but it was obvious that
neither had bothered to do so for years. Papa Doc couldn't care less
about a road he didn't wish to share in the first place. To discourage
incursions by the Kamoken 1,
in June 1963 he had ordered a swath three to five miles wide cut along
this central section of the Haitian side of the frontier. He called it
a cordon sanitaire and
that he regarded it as a war zone and anyone caught trespassing would
be shot on sight. Graham called it a Voodoo Curtain. Peasants and their
livestock were herded by Tonton Macoutes out of the no man's land. For
days the whack of machetes felling trees and slashing undergrowth was
heard along certain sectors of the border. A huge cloud of smoke from
the burning homes of peasants, their corn crops, grass and underbrush
hung over the region for days.
« There they
are ! » Graham pointed ahead.
« The Macoutes ! »
But his sighting proved to be a group of poor Haitian
who scrambled down the hill and on the road in tattered clothes begging
for cinq cob — five
cents. These emaciated children were defying Papa Doc in search of food.
« Ask them where they come
from, » Graham
said. But it was too late. They'd scampered off into the hills, their
little fists holding tightly to the Dominican coins we gave them.
« Where can they possibly spend the
money ? » Graham asked, contemplating a
appeared so empty.
« They will find a vendor of bread or
somewhere, » Bajeux explained.
« Haiti is one big
marketplace, with everyone trying to sell something. It's the only way
to survive. »
We came around a small bend in the road, and once again
moved forward in his seat. « There. I think I've
some movement over there. » He pointed to a clump of
near a deserted military post on the Haitian side ahead.
We detected no Macoutes or troops, but a guinea hen, that
of the Duvalier regime, darted across the road in front of us and
disappeared into the Dominican Republic.
« That hen
is a defecting Tonton Macoute, » I joked.
« What a windfall the three of us would be to the
Tontons ! » Graham said. He had started to
Tontons Macoutes Tontons. « Imagine what Papa Doc
if he knew we were here ! »
I knew what I would do. I had been thinking about it
constantly : drive into Dominican territory as fast as the
car could take us.
☐ pp. 61-62
activistes qui luttaient contre la dictature disposaient de fragiles
bases de repli en République dominicaine.
|mise-à-jour : 15