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A tormented, alcoholic priest is pursued by an idealistic lieutenant during an anti-clerical persecution in Mexico. *Author: Greene, Graham *Series Title: Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics *Publication Date: 2003/02/01 *Number of Pages: 240 *Binding Type: Paperbound *Language: English *Depth: 0.50 *Width: 5.00 *Height: 7.75
Greene was one of six children, the son of the headmaster of a boys' school, and a cousin of Robert Louis Stevenson. A shy, unhappy child, he made several suicide attempts. After attending Oxford (where he made a specialty of Russian roulette), in 1927 he married Vivien Dayrell-Browning, a Catholic--an act that enraged his family. The estrangement became even worse when Greene himself converted to Catholicism. He and his wife--to whom Greene was chronically unfaithful--had a son and a daughter, and later separated. Greene began his writing career as a journalist, but in 1929, his first novel, THE MAN WITHIN, was published, and thereafter he made his living as a writer--at first with difficulty, later with considerable success. Greene classified his fiction as either serious novels or "entertainments," in which he begins with the conventions of genre fiction but invariably lifts them into the realm of literature by the power of his writing. (BRIGHTON ROCK is only one of many examples.) A large percentage of his works also explore the Catholic themes of sin and redemption. Greene was an intelligence agent in World War II, which gave him material for some of his best spy novels. He wrote in nearly every literary genre, and more than 20 of his works have been made into movies including THE QUIET AMERICAN in 1958 (a film Greene loathed for its falsely happy ending and excision of the novel's strongly anti-American sentiments) and again in 2002 (a critically acclaimed film that restored Greene's themes); he also wrote screenplays and film reviews. Greene lived to be 86, and continued to write until nearly the end of his life.
"In 'The Power and the Glory,' as elsewhere, Mr. Greene is extremely successful in creating a squalid and painful world. He has a palette of sour colors, a repertory of of sickening suggestions, a talent for selecting and rubbing in unpleasant details of modern civilization, such as cheap panes of stained glass, inferior dental drills, and insipid correspondence courses, that make good writing and are entirely his own. But the trouble is, it seems to me, that here he has too little to set against them. The canvas is pretty well painted, but the picture is somehow dead....Dispensing with the excitement of the mystery story, Mr. Greene has not wholly succeeded in creating the higher kind of excitement. His priest who is merely a victim, who is merely pursued and executed, does not stir us with the spiritual passion that ought to be conveyed by the life of a saint."
"The priest in ['The Power and the Glory'] also knows that even heroes must submit to scrutiny. He has risked his life to perform his religious functions in an anti-clerical state, but he suspects that he has done it out of pride. 'I thought I was a fine fellow to have stayed when the others had gone.' The priest is Greene's most impressive character, just as ['The Power and the Glory'] is his most successful novel."
"Superbly told. And through the prosaic details runs a thread of mysticism, of something that guns and hate cannot destroy. This book is a splendid achievement, brilliant description, tense narrative--and something else besides."
"Mr. Greene's style is a model for economy of phrase. He is a master in the art of suspense. He seems to have the gift of understanding. Whether his character is a gringo dentist gone to seed, a brutal police lieutenant, a little boy reacting against pietist family pressure, a brave, resourceful little girl in a foreign land, or a truly humble 'whiskey priest,' it seems to make little difference. All speak for themselves convincingly; they are not easily forgotten. Graham Greene is a man to watch."
"This is a harrowing tale, but its relentless refusal of any substitute for goodness leaves the reader exultant rather than depressed and marks out its author as an imaginative critic of life."
"A first-rate piece of storytelling."
"Mr. Greene has told the story of a truly spiritual struggle, in the breast of a miserable sinner, who can yet do brave things, in a fashion that sets this novel of his a little above and apart from his others. Also, he has now proved himself one of the finest craftsmen of story-telling in our time."
"It is expertly done, and the curious thing is that a purposeful flattening dramatic effect and a trick of rather artificial phrasing both seem to help rather than hinder."
From the Publisher
This story of bravery, cowardice, and moral decay is set in Mexico during the Calles regime of the 1930s, when the practice of Christianity was violently suppressed. It portrays the heroic and doomed efforts of a priest to minister secretly to the Catholics of the region. The "whiskey priest" is one of Greene's most memorable characters: a drunkard and fornicator, he nevertheless attempts to keep the Church alive in his province and puts his life at risk in the process. He is pursued throughout the story by the Chief of Police, a Javert-like figure who is a model of decorum, human decency--and coldheartedness. Widely acclaimed as one of Greene's finest books, it was the work that first established Green's reputation as a master of the novel form.
This story of bravery, cowardice, and moral decay is set in Mexico during the Calles regime of the 1930s, when the practice of Christianity was violently suppressed. It portrays the heroic and doomed efforts of a priest to minister secretly to the Catholics of the region. The "whiskey priest" is one of Greene's most memorable characters: a drunkard and fornicator, he nevertheless attempts to keep the Church alive in his province and puts his life at risk in the process. He is pursued throughout the story by the Chief of Police, a Javert-like figure who is a model of decorum, human decency--and coldheartedness. Widely acclaimed as one of Greene's finest books, THE POWER AND THE GLORY was the work that first established Green's reputation as a master of the novel form.
Mr. Tench went out to look for his ether cylinder: out into the blazing Mexican sun and the bleaching dust. A few buzzards looked down from the roof with shabby indifference: he wasn't carrion yet.