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The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene

The Power and the Glory (1940)

by Graham Greene

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5,32168827 (3.94)1 / 285
  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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Showing 1-5 of 61 (next | show all)
A classic Graham Greene- a tale of a whisky priest in Mexico at time when certain states had outlawed the church. Sharply observed descriptions of Mexico and poverty & quite engrossing tale. ( )
1 vote sianpr | Sep 24, 2016 |
"The wall of the burial-ground had fallen in: one or two crosses had been smashed by enthusiasts: an angel had lost one of its stone wings, and what gravestones were left undamaged leant at an acute angle in the long marshy grass. One image of the Mother of God had lost ears and arms and stood like a pagan Venus over the grave of some rich forgotten timber merchant. It was odd – this fury to deface, because, of course, you could never deface enough. If God had been like a toad, you could have rid the globe of toads, but when God was like yourself, it was no good being content with stone figures – you had to kill yourself among the graves."

It may have been the subject matter but this book was hard to follow and such a relief to finish.

Saying that, it is not a book I would have abandoned.

The Power and the Glory - as remote as it may have been to anything I can relate to - was strangely compelling because the story of a secular regime oppressing people by outlawing religion (or anything else that posed as an opposition) - seemed to reflect much of the time it was written in.

And of course, I am glad to see that Greene has by this time (1940) moved on from writing insipid thrillers.

(Review first posted on BookLikes.) ( )
  BrokenTune | Aug 21, 2016 |
I loved this tale of a ravaged whiskey priest. I love Graham Greene. His approach to morality is one I can understand. ( )
  deckla | Apr 5, 2016 |
Another brilliant book by Graham Greene. Writing of a time in Mexico when religion and alcohol were both illegal, this book tells the story of the last Priest on the run escaping the law and his own past. ( )
  Oodles | Feb 16, 2016 |
There are no rules for how we each stumble our way forward seeking some form of unsteady truce with the world. Greene's novel captures this ongoing skirmish across a host of characters in The Power and the Glory. Nearly every adult character in this novel laboriously places one foot in front of the other, moment by moment, tentatively trying to find a way forward. Certain characters never seem to move at all, their foot raised and frozen, unlike the priest, by the fear that a serpent might be lurking as they move through the dark. And the children. These are not the little lambs, the innocents. They are unrestrained; they act. The near paralysis of the adults is their future.

The books central character is a priest. His path toward salvation and that of his nemesis, the Lieutenant bent on tracking him down, are separate but not wholly parallel--they do converge. As the priest says, "We agree about a lot of things..." But the conclusions they draw from the pool of shared facts are starkly different. The Lieutenant says, "Death's a fact. We don't try to alter facts." But for the priest, the fact of death is a very different kind of fact--not like the closing of a door.

On another plane, Greene does a magnificent job capturing the difference between mythology and life, between the necessary mythologies the church constructs to comfort and encourage versus the lived reality of frail humans moving through time. His-story is one thing; histories are another.

I am a big Greene fan and have been for decades. He is on that select list of authors of mine that I hope to finish their last novel during my last year of life. And as most Greene fans are aware, there is a lot of chatter about putting Greene unfairly in a box, defusing him as a 'Catholic novelist', robbing him of power and glory.

I cannot here, crack this nut (nor probably anywhere else). But I will add for new readers of Greene, that in some of his novels, there is a certain 'price of admission' related to Catholicism. In my mind, this is no different than any other author or literature one approaches that is bound by a set of rules, mores, cultural norms. If, for example, some American reader of British novels has very little sense of operative class distinctions in British society, that reader may well miss some things: the anxieties, slights, unspoken pressures that govern the characters' behaviors.

If one is unfamiliar with Christianity in general or with the complex, rich, multi-faceted structures of Catholicism, one will miss things in this novel. Period. And they will not be mere nuances.

I tend to think of Conrad, Greene, and le Carre as residing in the same wing of the pantheon. In the most basic sense, they are tellers of moral tales. But Conrad and le Carre are, I believe, generally more accessible for more readers. This is not a matter of how one feels about Catholicism or how Greene employs it in various novels. It is just that certain readers cannot know what they don't know. Yes, they can still enjoy Greene. But they are like a baseball fan watching a cricket match--they may get the general idea, they may even very much enjoy the action. But they do not come away from the match with what the cricket fan does. Knowing the game lends a great deal to the pleasure and to a final understanding of what transpired.

For me, I still prefer those Greene novels in which the religious superstructure does sit more in the background. Personal taste. Conrad and (some of) le Carre's novels just feel cleaner to me, more mythic, more titanic because of the raw simplicity of the moral choices with which the characters wrestle. ( )
1 vote tsgood | Feb 7, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 61 (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 (47 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Greene, Grahamprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Žantovská, HanaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grandfield, GeoffIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lewis, R. W. B.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lewis, R. W. B.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lindegren, ErikTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schaap. H.W.J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Updike, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Th' inclosure narrow'd; the sagacious power
Of hounds and death drew nearer every hour.
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
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.
Haiku summary

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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:50 -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.

» see all 8 descriptions

Legacy Library: Graham Greene

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