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The Power and the Glory (1940)

by Graham Greene

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
6,6301051,076 (3.92)1 / 360
In a poor, remote section of southern Mexico, the Red Shirts have taken control, God has been outlawed, and the priests have been systematically hunted down and killed. Now, the last priest strives to overcome physical and moral cowardice in order to find redemption. 240 pp.
  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. 10
    Silence by Shūsaku Endō (longway)
  3. 00
    Getting to Know the General by Graham Greene (John_Vaughan)

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» See also 360 mentions

English (90)  Spanish (4)  Catalan (3)  Dutch (2)  French (2)  Swedish (2)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (104)
Showing 1-5 of 90 (next | show all)
This book was recommended to me by Sapper Morton:
"It’s very exciting. It’s about an outlaw priest who’s just trying to understand the meaning of being human... It’s one of my favorites, you’ll love it".

I did love it. ( )
  Tracyalanb | Apr 4, 2021 |
"Hate is a lack of imagination."

'The Power and the Glory' was first published in 1940 and is basically a chase story centring around two totally opposed characters, a communist police lieutenant and a priest.

Set in Mexico in the 1920's when after the communist revolution Catholicism was forbidden. All the priests have been killed or chased out of the country unless they are willing to denounce their vows of celibacy and marry. The police lieutenant fanatically believes in the righteousness of his cause: believing that the Catholic church is corrupt, greedy and has brought his country to a state of backwardness and poverty that can only be remedied by its own annihilation. Meanwhile the priest is sinful, cowardly and alcoholic yet who when push comes to shove is loyal to his own cause also.Both are motivated by the love and care for their people but also come to represent man's relationship with God or authority.

The priest, the only surviving one in the country, initially plans to escape by boat but when asked to give the last sacraments to a dying woman decides that it his duty to stay. The lieutenant and the troops under his command take hostages in each village threatening to execute them in the hope that their neighbours will betray the priest. However, the villagers remain loyal to priest and they don't give him up preferring him to simply leave the area nor does he identify himself despite knowing that another will be taken hostage in his place.

The priest moves to the capitol where once again he is arrested. Put in a cell with some of the hostages he sees first-hand the conditions that they are enduring because of him. Again the priest says nothing and is released but isolated from his parishioners, unable to lead mass, take confessions or do christenings he finally quits the country. For a while he finds peace and quiet but is convinced to return despite knowing that he is being lead into a trap.

Once again he is arrested this time he is recognised, tried and executed but later on that day another priest arrives in the country to take his place suggesting his prayers have been answered after all, that religion and hope will never die.

"Hope was an instinct only the reasoning mind could kill. An animal never knew despair."

Greene worked as a journalist for the Times newspaper and was sent to Mexico to investigate and report on the rumours that Catholic priests, nuns and civilians were being oppressed by the Communist Government there, this book was inspired by his time in the country. The story therefore portrays the actual persecution of Catholics by government troops, but essentially centres on the personal struggle which the main character fights with his conscience and his faith.

Greene brings all his considerable talent for suspense to bear on this story and despite, by today's standards, its somewhat plodding delivery; its darkness and intensity, it is still a thrilling read touched with flashes of humour. Greene wonderfully evokes the heat and dust of the country and the poverty of its inhabitants. I have read a few of Greene's books and I must admit that I prefer his 'spy' novels to his 'serious' ones with their religious undertones but this is an enjoyable read all the same. ( )
  PilgrimJess | Mar 6, 2021 |
This novel, published by Graham Greene in 1940 is set in Mexico during the 1930 Cristero Wars (1927-19290). The government has decided to annihilate the Catholic Church. The Whiskey Priest is unnamed, views himself as a "bad priest" is the one who continues to respond to the people's' needs and to do his priestly duties despite his thinking himself a bad priest. Others have been killed or have taken the escape of marrying and going on a pension provided by the government. The Mestizo is a Judas character, he continues to seek out financial gain by betraying the whiskey priest to the enemy, namely the lieutenant. The side stories are of Mr Tench the English Dentist, the Fellows (English man and his family who works on a banana plantation),and the Woman, mother of 3, who is reading a cleaned up, dramatized story of a martyr Juan to her children. The church has always survived persecution and the rally "Viva Cristo Rey" or long live Christ the King settles into the heart of the young man who at first appeared fascinated by the soldiers and their guns. The Church will survive. ( )
  Kristelh | Jan 30, 2021 |
guilt and duty equals ? ( )
  stravinsky | Dec 28, 2020 |
A classic I had never had the opportunity to read before, but read it for a class through the lens of forgiveness and atonement. Masterful writing about a priest in Mexico during a time of upheaval when the Catholic faith is outlawed and priests are executed. The whisky-priest (his only "name") is on the run, hunted down by the government and forced to rely on those who still have (secret) faith. While he believes himself to be the worst kind of sinner, his journey out among the people and nature is slowly transforming him into a Christ-like figure who makes the ultimate sacrifice. A psychological exploration of faith and belief that raises many thought-provoking issues. ( )
  CarrieWuj | Oct 24, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 90 (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 (26 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Greene, GrahamAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alexander, Carolsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Žantovská, HanaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Conn, Peter J.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grandfield, GeoffIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gross, GeorgeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heuvelmans, TonAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hogarth, PaulCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lewis, R. W. B.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lindegren, ErikTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lyall, DennisIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mauriac, FrançoisForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Santamaría, JuanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schaap. H.W.J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Springer, KätheTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Svendsen, ClaraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Updike, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vargas Llosa, Mariosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vittorini, ElioTranslatorsecondary 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.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
original title of the power & the glory
Publisher's editors
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Wikipedia in English


In a poor, remote section of southern Mexico, the Red Shirts have taken control, God has been outlawed, and the priests have been systematically hunted down and killed. Now, the last priest strives to overcome physical and moral cowardice in order to find redemption. 240 pp.

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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.
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