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The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
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The Power and the Glory (1940)

by Graham Greene (Author)

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4,72953994 (3.93)1 / 198
  1. 10
    The Lawless Roads by Graham Greene (John_Vaughan)
    John_Vaughan: In 1938 Greene traveled throughout the south of Mexico and experienced first-hand the terror and corruption, The travel Book Lawless Roads is the basis for the novel Power and Glory.
  2. 00
    Getting to Know the General by Graham Greene (John_Vaughan)
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English (46)  Dutch (2)  Swedish (2)  Spanish (1)  Hebrew (1)  French (1)  All languages (53)
Showing 1-5 of 46 (next | show all)
No doubt Greene was writing in this book about a subject close to his heart in creating the story of a ‘whisky priest’ but, just as I can’t get involved in books to do with the traditions of Jewishness which seem so esoteric to me, so I can’t find myself immersed in this novel about Catholicism. I found Greene’s final discussion of Catholicism as opposed to aetheism in the conversation between the priest and the lieutenant too manufactured, reminding me of similar artificiality between Montag and Beatty in ‘Fahrenheit 451’ (which I found more interesting) and the middle section of Orwell’s ‘1984’.

With the Catholic church now so publically besmirched in its paedophilic depravity, I don’t know how anyone can support this corrupt institution, and Greene’s priest who immediately starts working out how much money he can make through baptisms after he has just escaped made me wonder how Greene thought his readers could ever have empathy with the man. I also, on a lesser note, found it odd that Greene frequently had characters ‘giggling’ rather than laughing. It may have been his way of suggesting that they were unable to be open in this oppressive society where priests were hunted, but giggling seems not to be the right choice of word. Perhaps it was less associated with hebephrenic behaviour then. I guess interest in Greene’s novels has ebbed from when he was such a popular novelist and from this book I can see why. ( )
  evening | Jun 5, 2014 |
In what many experts consider Graham Greene's masterpiece, a human drama is played out against a background of opposing idealogies.

The Power and the Glory chronicles the struggle by a Catholic priest to evade capture in a country which has outlawed his religion and forced his fellow priests to either renounce their vows or to face execution. Greene pits the fugitive against the forces of law epitomised by a young lieutenant of high principles and a strong commitment to eradicating Mexico of all vestiges of the Catholic faith.

Hunter and quarry circle each other through poor, remote villages and on bleak mountains, encountering desperation and fear among a population who yearn for the consolation of prayer even though they are afraid of the consequences of harbouring a wanted man.

Each time the priest makes a move that will take him across the mountains and into the safety of a neighbouring state, someone in a village or a fellow traveller calls on him for pastoral succour. He goes to their aid knowing that every day he delays his departure, he risks capture and death.

This nameless priest is no saintly figure however. Greene's protagonist is a flawed character; a drunk, a coward and a lecher. He prefers alcohol to prayer and has secretly fathered a child. In one of the key scenes in the novel, when the priest is taken to prison for possessing forbidden spirits, he admits that he craves drink more desperately than he needs God.

Yet though acutely aware of his unworthiness, he still cannot abandon those who need him. "He was a bad priest, he knew it. They had a word for his kind — a whisky priest, but every failure dropped out of sight and mind; somewhere they accumulated in secret — the rubble of his failures. One day they would choke up, he supposed, altogether the source of grace. Until then he carried on, with spells of fear, weariness, with a shamefaced lightness of heart."

His antagonist, the nameless police lieutenant, despises the Catholic church. His revulsion dates from his childhood experience of priests who paid more attention to their own comforts than to the needs of the poor. For him, the Church is a dangerous tool of oppression and injustice, an agency that simply holds out false hope of a better life in the hereafter rather than giving practical help in the here and now.

He is on a mission to remove poverty, superstition and corruption from the lives of ordinary Mexican people and if necessary, he is ready to kill to achieve his desired utopia. The Church is simply the first obstacle that has to be eliminated.

The pair seem to hold diametrically different views of the world and yet Greene shows in the course of three encounters between the men, that there are in fact similarities between them. They both have a vision of a world with "no unjust laws, no taxes, no soldiers and no hunger" though they differ about when and how this vision is to be achieved.

If by the end of the novel, the lieutenant's idealism is not reconciled entirely with the priest's disillusioned materialism, reach a kind of qualified understanding of each other and recognise their mutual moral worth.

A powerful and intense novel which poses questions about faith and devotion, about religious and Marxist ideologies. Greene seems to side with the Church but his endorsement of the Catholic world view is not crystal clear which is one reason why The Power and the Glory was put on the Vatican's blacklist when it was published. In 2005 The Power and the Glory was chosen by TIME magazine as one of the one hundred best English-language novels since 1923. It's an accolade that is richly deserved. ( )
  Mercury57 | Jan 11, 2014 |
I've only discovered Graham Greene this year and have loved the first 2 of his books I read. This is supposed to be his masterpiece, but for some reason I didn't enjoy it as much. Maybe not having any religious upbringing might have made me insensitive to the plight of the whiskey priest, or understanding the position he held in the community. I did like the conflict between the government and the church and although the government is trying to eliminate the church because of its exploitation of the poor, it suffers from its own corruption. Both the Lieutenant and the priest were great complex characters, very flawed and very human. ( )
  jmoncton | Nov 3, 2013 |
Pride was his sin after all. Nothing solved, all questions open, but still interesting. One needs to feel love to love others ( )
  Kirmuriel | Sep 19, 2013 |
A truly wondrous book! I have long wanted to read it, and finally bought it at 5 PM on Jan 29 and finished it a little after midnight on Jan 30. It was first published in 1940 and it is excellent. Graham Greene, even better, I am inclined to think, than his later books though not as pretentious. It is not as searching a book, it is more telling a story than exploring a theological problem. It tells of a priest hunted in Mexico. He is a "whiskey priest" and the father of a child. He is afraid, he is lax about the doing of his priestly duties. But he is humble, and though he fears his bad example has counteracted any good he does, he does the big things well--he returns to a dying man, though he knows he'll be captured, and he influences the rabid priest-hunting police officer. The book does not gloss over abuses that may exist in practices in the Church, and yet one feels this priest a glorious exemplar, despite his very human failings. The book was a penetrating illustration of the difference between conventional and unusual saintliness. All the usual Greene attitudes are here: the hierarchy of sins by conventional order seems out of place. i cannot but tend to agree with his emphasis. All in all, essily the finest book I have read in many months. ( )
  Schmerguls | Aug 2, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 46 (next | show all)
This is the story Greene was born to tell. With this novel, Greene brings all his considerable talent, craft, and gift for suspense to bear on a story that penetrates the heart of one tortured man’s mystery. For all its darkness and intensity, it’s a thrilling, page-turning read: the story is structured essentially as an extended chase across the barren landscape of Mexico—mirroring the even vaster desert spaces in the heart of the pursued Priest. Greene evokes the heat and dust and sweat of the country and its inhabitants with cinematic immediacy. The atmosphere is stifling, almost unbearably intense, and Greene’s capacity for storytelling invention never flags.

 

» Add other authors (44 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Greene, GrahamAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Žantovská, HanaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grandfield, GeoffIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lewis, R. W. B.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lewis, R. W. B.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lindegren, ErikTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schaap. H.W.J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Updike, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Th' inclosure narrow'd; the sagacious power
Of hounds and death drew nearer every hour
--Dryden
Dedication
For Gervase
To Vivien with dearest love
First words
Mr. Tench went out to look for his ether cylinder, into the blazing Mexican sun and the bleaching dust.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
VINTAGE CLASSICS EDITION:
During a vicious persecution of the clergy in Mexico, a worldly priest, the 'whisky priest', is on the run. With the police closing in, his routes of escape are being shut off, his chances getting fewer. But compassion and humanity force him along the road to his destiny, reluctant to abandon those who need him, and those he cares for.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0142437301, Paperback)

How does good spoil, and how can bad be redeemed? In his penetrating novel The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene explores corruption and atonement through a priest and the people he encounters. In the 1930s one Mexican state has outlawed the Church, naming it a source of greed and debauchery. The priests have been rounded up and shot by firing squad--save one, the whisky priest. On the run, and in a blur of alcohol and fear, this outlaw meets a dentist, a banana farmer, and a village woman he knew six years earlier. For a while, he is accompanied by a toothless man--whom he refers to as his Judas and does his best to ditch. Always, an adamant lieutenant is only a few hours behind, determined to liberate his country from the evils of the church.

On the verge of reaching a safer region, the whisky priest is repeatedly held back by his vocation, even though he no longer feels fit to perform his rites: "When he was gone it would be as if God in all this space between the sea and the mountains ceased to exist. Wasn't it his duty to stay, even if they despised him, even if they were murdered for his sake? even if they were corrupted by his example?"

As his sins and dangers increase, the broken priest comes to confront the nature of piety and love. Still, when he is granted a reprieve, he feels himself sliding into the old arrogance, slipping it on like the black gloves he used to wear. Greene has drawn this man--and all he encounters--vividly and viscerally. He may have said The Power and the Glory was "written to a thesis," but this brilliant theological thriller has far more mysteries--and troubling ideals--than certainties. --Joannie Kervran Stangeland

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:03:54 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

The last priest in a poor section of North Mexico where the Red Shirts have outlawed God finds himself a hero despite himself.

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