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Black Robe Hardcover – Mar 1985

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Hardcover, Mar 1985
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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: E P Dutton (Mar. 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525243119
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525243113
  • Product Dimensions: 50.8 x 50.8 x 50.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,822,702 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Brian Moore, whom Graham Greene called his ‘favourite living novelist’, was born in Belfast in 1921. He emigrated to Canada in 1948, where he became a journalist and adopted Canadian citizenship. He spent some time in New York before settling in California.

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Laforgue felt his body tremble. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By K. Sewell on 8 Feb. 2006
Format: Paperback
I don't like all Brian Moore's books, but one thing is certain, his range is astonishing, and after reading Black Robe I became his totally starry-eyed fan.
It is a most unusual story, set in Canada, when the country was being settled by europeans, in the case of the east coast, mainly french.
However Moore got his facts about these dark times, I didn't care if they were true or fiction. The very human Jesuit priest that sets out into the wilderness to convert the "natives" encounters not only discomfort, danger and unspeakable horrors, but his own dark self.
I entered entirely into this world, as if I'd been there myself, which is a feat for any writer. For a most absorbing and unique experience, read this novel.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J C E Hitchcock on 11 April 2010
Format: Paperback
The action of "Black Robe" takes place in the year 1635 in what is today the Canadian province of Quebec, but which at that period formed part of the French colony of New France. It follows the journey of Father Paul Laforgue, a French Jesuit priest, who travels to an isolated mission station among the Huron Indians. Accompanying him are his young lay assistant, Daniel Davost, whose main reason for undertaking the journey is that he has fallen in love with an Indian girl, and a group of
Algonkin Indians who act as their guides.

The novel is on one level a historical adventure story, but it can also be seen as a study of cultural differences. The French see the Indians as cruel and barbaric and generally refer to them as the Savages. (This is Brian Moore's rendition of the French term "les Sauvages", although he does not point out that this might also be translated as "the wild ones"; the French word "sauvage", unlike the English "savage", does not necessarily carry any implication of ferocity or viciousness). The Indians see the French as greedy and selfish because of their love of possessions and their reluctance to share what they have with others. The greatest cultural differences, however, lie in the area of religion. To the predominantly Catholic French, the spiritual beliefs of the native peoples are no more than primitive superstitions inspired by Satan. The Indians, however, see the French as stupid and ignorant because of their lack of understanding of a key element of the Indian belief system, namely that animals, plants and even inanimate objects such as rocks and rivers all have spirits of their own. They are particularly suspicious of Catholic priests (or "Black Robes") whom they see as sorcerers.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 9 May 2002
Format: Paperback
I must confess that in Moore's books I rediscovered the joy of reading after years of forcing myself through dire arty tomes. In "Black Robe" his storytelling genius is as spellbinding as ever. Not a word is wasted and it is a thrilling journey, yet he avoids the cliches of more popular (and much less intelligent) writers. Sometimes his magic touch falters - perhaps once or twice - but this is almost a good thing as the few flaws enable us to appreciate the skill of this gifted writer. The themes of religion, the clash of cultures, "civilisation" versus native cultures have all been dealt with before, but, amazingly you can never tell what will happen next. Without making anything feel contrived, and despite so many traditional writers preceding him, Moore proves a good, intelligent and surprising story - with power and depth despite its surface simplicity - can still be written.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By bebe on 13 July 2006
Format: Paperback
I read this book for a course on Canadian literature and was very, very unsettled by it. I read 'Black Robe' in one sitting - it was that compelling - but on the other hand certain passages made me feel physically sick. Fascinating, if in parts repulsive. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Brian Moore's books cover a range of styles and vary considerably in quality. Those with Northern Irish themes often seem claustrophobic, as their characters a trapped, often both mentally and in a limited space. His “Black Robe” contrasts the sense of the physical space of a new world with the mental limitations of the Jesuit priests, the Black Robes of the title. This is one of Moore's more successful books, combining a strong and dramatic narrative with searching analyses of its main characters’ motives and is well worth reading.

The story is set in French Canada in the early 17th century, and follows the journey of a Jesuit missionary priest recently arrived from France, Father Laforgue, and his French assistant, Daniel, from Quebec through what to them is a wilderness to a mission station far into the interior among the Hurons. The narrative, which is partly based on Jesuit accounts, catalogues the difficulties of their journey with a group of Algonkians, their capture by rival Irquois, who kill or injure many of their group, the escape of the two Frenchmen and two Algonkians, and their eventual arrival at the distant settlement, where many of the Indians are dying of a fever. Laforgue persuades the survivors to become Christians, and the book ends with him vowing to spend the rest of his life among the Hurons who he has come to love, but not really to understand.

Besides the narrative of the journey, the book explores the cultural conflict and mutual lack of understanding between the French, particularly the Jesuits, and those they routinely call “savages”. The Jesuits were convinced that their religion, literacy and technology gave them superiority over the Indians, who they regarded as sinful and backward.
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