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Brighton Rock by Graham Greene

Brighton Rock (1938)

by Graham Greene

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (79)  Swedish (2)  Vietnamese (1)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  All (84)
Showing 1-5 of 79 (next | show all)
Greene's brilliance confuses the reader in this depiction of the introvert, lonely, psychopathic fantasist Pinkie. We're taken inside his mind: we don't like it there but do we really want to get out? On the side of the righteous is Ida, but here again we may admire her determination and fearlessness, but do we want to sit down and eat with her? And poor, pathetic, put-upon Rose - we may feel sorrow for her, but struggle to understand how she can be so easily led down the path to self-destruction. As for Brighton, I'll always be looking over my shoulder when there! ( )
  NaggedMan | Jan 9, 2018 |
A lurid, compelling, and profound look at a small-time criminal enthralled with evil, the young woman he deceives, and the detective who hunts him down. Wonderfully chilling. ( )
  MichaelBarsa | Dec 17, 2017 |
Two memorable characters and understated humour delight, and the narrator does a great job portraying both. ( )
  charlie68 | Dec 16, 2017 |
The story of Pinkie's attempts to establish an alibi and increasing sense of pressure from the crimes committed in this attempt made this a very claustrophobic feeling novel. Thoroughly enjoyed though as usual for Greene, bleak. ( )
  brakketh | Dec 7, 2017 |
There are some spoilers in this review.
Our story follows the leader of a 1930s Brighton gang in the aftermath of a murder. Pinkie Brown is a cold, ruthless 18-year-old psychopath whose grey eyes give “an effect of heartlessness like an old man’s in which human feeling has died.” (God damn, Graham Greene.) Following the murder of his gang leader, Pinkie is in charge of those loyal enough to remain, and his first order of business is vengeance.
Pinkie’s target is Fred Hale, a man who betrayed the gang leader in some way, presumably (I can’t claim I understand how gangs work at all). Just before Fred’s murder (spoiler, but I don’t think Fred even makes it to page 30), he encounters the easy-going Ida, whose bosom is described in virtually every chapter. When Fred disappears, Ida is extremely suspicious and refuses to rest until she discovers the truth about what’s happened.
As Ida pursues Pinkie, Pinkie pursues Rose, a teenager who unknowingly holds a key piece of evidence that could implicate Pinkie in murder. Even though the idea of romance is utterly repellent to Pinkie and he sees the traditional path of marriage and children as a slow death, he convinces Rose he loves her in order to dissuade her from talking to anyone about what she knows. Is he willing to sacrifice his “bitter virginity” (whatever the fuck that means), his freedom, and even his eternal soul in order to keep Rose quiet?
Like basically every other Graham Greene novel ever written, this one is highly critical of the Catholic Church. Pinkie and Rose are both Catholic, in contrast with Ida, who isn’t religious is spiritual and has a few weird superstitions about ghosts and Ouija boards. As a child, Pinkie wanted to be a priest, and Greene draws parallels between his contempt for the rest of humanity, indifference to suffering, and disdain of sex and romantic love with the Catholic Church. Greene also prods quite a bit at the two Catholic characters’ willingness to sin despite the promise of eternal damnation, going so far as to say “a Catholic is more capable of evil than anyone” (246).
For some reason I didn’t get into his the first time around I tried it, but I LOVED it this time. It’s outrageously cynical, and the only novel I can think of in which a candy tourists buy in Brighton is used as a metaphor for the inescapability of human nature.
Fair warning that you’ll have to deal with a reasonable amount of dated ‘30s slang that feels made up, esp. re: women. (Both “buer” and “polony” get thrown around A LOT and I still don’t fully understand what either means. I just kept thinking of Polonius from Hamletand also Thelonious Monk every time someone used the word “polony.”)
The end also gets a bit melodramatic, and it’s hard not to imagine physically throwing Rose. She’s an idiot. Most frustrating is that Ida, the only likeable character, gets quite a lot of focus at the beginning of the novel, but then Pinkie receives more and more attention. I was so excited when I thought (however briefly) this was actually a female-centric Greene novel.
My favorite quote is also a good test of whether you might enjoy this one or find it too dark and cynical: “That was what happened to a man in the end: the stuffy room, the wakeful children, the Saturday night movements from the other bed. Was there no escape––anywhere––for anyone? It was worth murdering a world” (92). Chills, you guys.
The Spectator’s review on the back of the book says of Greene, “Entertaining he may always be; comforting, never,” which I think is the most accurate description of his novels I’ve ever read. (And at the same time seems a bit like backhanded praise and also possibly written by Yoda?) I can’t think of another writer quite like Greene; perhaps Cormac McCarthy in terms of bleakness? John Le Carré in terms of suspense and a darker take on spying (as inThe Quiet American)? William Golding for shared views on human nature? He’s not quite like any other writer I can think of, which is why I love him so much. ( )
  jsheilas | Oct 13, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 79 (next | show all)
This is no book for those who would turn delicate noses away from the gutters and sewers of life; but there is nothing that could give the faintest gratification to snickerers. If it is as downright as surgery, it is, also, as clean as a clinic. There is not an entirely admirable character in it; but there is not one that can, by any chance, be forgotten nor one that could be set aside as untrue to life.
Why does this bleak, seething and anarchic novel still resonate? Its energy and power is that of the rebellious adolescent, foreshadowing the rise of the cult of youth in the latter part of the 20th century. And while Catholicism may have given way to secularism, Pinkie ultimately realises that hell isn't located in some distant realm: it's right here, present on earth, all around us.

» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Greene, Grahamprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Geoff GrandfieldIllustratormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Byfield, GrahamCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carey, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Coetzee, J.M.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Joffe, RowanForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Larsen, Magda HenrietteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lindegren, ErikTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lladó Bausili, JuanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pade, HenningTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rojahn-Deyk, BarbaraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sibon, MarcelleTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tainio, TaunoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vallandro, LeonelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vernet, Maria TeresaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
West, SamuelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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'This were a fine reign:
To do ill and not hear of it again.'
First words
Hale knew, before he had been in Brighton three hours, that they meant to murder him.
Hale knew they meant to murder him before he had been in Brighton three hours. [1956 ed.]
young men kept on arriving in huge motoring coats accompanied by small tinted creatures, who rang like expensive glass when they were touched but who conveyed an impression of being as sharp and tough as tin.
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Bookplate: "From the library of Graham Greene"
Flap folder on inside back cover containing cut down dust jacket back and flap
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0142437972, Paperback)

Graham Greene's chilling exposé of violence and gang warfare in the pre-war underworld is a classic of its kind.

Pinkie, the teenage gangster, is devoid of compassion or human feeling, despising weakness of the spirit or of the flesh. Responsible for the razor slashes that killed Kite and also for the death of Hale, he is the embodiment of calculated evil. As a Catholic, however, he is convinced that his retribution does not lie in human hands.

He is therefore not prepared for Ida Arnold, Hale's avenging angel. Ida, whose allegiance is with life, the here and now, has her own ideas about the circumstances surrounding Hale's death. For the sheer joy of it she takes up the challenge of bringing the infernal Pinkie to an earthly kind of justice.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:08 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

In this classic novel of murder and menace, Graham Greene lays bare the soul of a boy of seventeen who stalks Brighton's tawdry boardwalk with apathy on his face and murder in his heart. Pinkie, the boy with death at his fingertips, is not just bad, he worships in the temple of evil, just as his parents worshipped in the house of God. Crime, in his dark mind, is a release so deep and satisfying that he has no need for drink or women or the love of his fellows. He is an astounding character, sinister and fascinating. -- From the cover.… (more)

» see all 8 descriptions

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