Monday, June 26, 2017

The Power and the Glory [1940]


Rated by many novelists (including John Updike in his introduction to the book) and bibliophiles as Graham Greene’s masterpiece, included by Time magazine in its list of 100 Best English-language Novels of 20th Century, and considered, along with Brighton Rock, The Heart of the Matter and The End of the Affair, amongst his so-called quartet of “serious novels”, The Power and the Glory remains an incredibly powerful, gritty and gut-wrenching work on the crisis of faith – both personal and societal – at the backdrop of severe socio-political turmoil and upheaval. Greene spent 2 solitary months in Mexico in 1938 – particularly in the state of Tabasco – in order to research for a non-fiction account of the vicious persecution of the Catholic Church and purging of the clergy by the state’s anti-clerical Governer, which he then chronicled in the travelogue The Lawless Roads; many of the aspects and characters which he’d witnessed, including inspirations for the tale’s unnamed protagonist, also ended up becoming part of this incessantly bleak and unrelentingly downbeat novel, and, combined with his cinematic prose, imbued it with a terrific here-and-now flavor and sight-and-sound. The principal protagonist, referred to by the epithet “whiskey priest” in reference to his dubious moral standing vis-à-vis the Church’s puritanical expectations, being possibly the last priest alive in that region and with a fat bounty on his head, is on the run from the authority. Attired in a tattered suit, down to his last dime, plagued with severe guilt on having once fathered a child and for his love for alcohol, and with hardly any place to hide from the relentless Lieutenant hunting for his head, he’s forced to embarks on a harrowing and fatalistic journey; and during the course of this he gets to visit his disreputable past, encounters treachery and violence, and experiences moments of bitter irony. Composed in the form of a gripping thriller, and laced with disillusionment, melancholia, acerbic narrative and deeply ambiguous world-view, this book is bound to leave one both shaken and stirred.






Author: Graham Greene
Genre: Political Thriller/Religious Drama
Language: English
Country: UK

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