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The power and the glory Unknown Binding – 1996

4.3 out of 5 stars 72 customer reviews

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Unknown Binding, 1996
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Product details

  • Unknown Binding: 295 pages
  • Publisher: Book-of-the-Month Club; Book-of-the-Month Club ed edition (1996)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0006QWLYQ
  • Product Dimensions: 17.1 x 10.8 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In The Power and the Glory, Greene fictionalises his distaste for anti-clerical 1930s Mexico through the efforts of a lapsed priest to escape execution by the police. This anonymous ‘whisky priest’ is far from saintly: he craves brandy, is a father, and candidly admits his hypocrisy and unworthiness. But as the last practising priest in the state, he is compelled to promote the Catholic faith – and through his travels he finds that the Christian devotion of communities is strong (frequently stronger than his own devotion), despite the dogma of the civil authorities.
Greene’s depiction of the Mexican pogrom of clerics and one man’s bid to stay alive is more sophisticated than a battle of good versus evil, as it is riddled with ambiguous personalities. The priest drinks excessively and doubts himself, but is at times compassionate and heroic. Likewise, the lieutenant who pursues him is cold and relentless, but his zeal is grounded in a desire to give Mexico’s children a world free of superstition, corruption and fear. Another priest has married to escape execution, while the chief of police regularly breaks the law by drinking spirits. There are no sinless characters in the novel. Instead, faith and violence give some sense of order to the lives of people worn down by poverty.
The cat-and-mouse plot allows the reader to sense the fear of the priest on each occasion that he is captured or placed in danger, especially through his preoccupation with pain rather than death. At times the priest is like a Christ figure wandering dishevelled and exhausted through the sweaty, claustrophobic tropics. He can be coolly fatalistic or implausibly generous, but his constant failings are a reminder of his mortality and the impossibility of his situation.
A poignant book, grounded in historical realism and religious doubt, that conveys one man’s plight to justify his faith in an unforgiving era.
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Format: Paperback
Greene's talent for characterisation and plot is astounding. Rather than tell the story entirely through a central character Green actually begins this book with a dentist before going off on what appears to be a tangent with a person that he meets. It's a demonstration of his talent that there is no such thing as a peripheral character in this book - everyone is clearly thought-through with their own motivations and characteristics. Quite often you will witness scenes through a minor character's eyes, and this makes for a quite new experience.
The story - of the flight of a pursued alcoholic priest - is a compelling one. The inner conflict, especially when he is trying to decide what his duty actually is, is quite awesome reading. As he says many times, he is no saint, and what emerges is a picture of weakness and mortality, painted without pity or fear by a master of his art.
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By A Customer on 21 April 2001
Format: Paperback
Since his death I would say Graham Greene's reputation and position as a novelist has declined. It may take twenty years and a new generation of readers to rediscover his true genius as a prose artist. I hope it won't take even that long.
The Power and the Glory is Greene's supreme achievement in my opinion. Set in Central America in an unnamed country (a thinly disguised portrait of Mexico however) where a Revolutionary Marxist government has come to power and outlawed the Church, Greene employs the narrative conventions of the thriller to explore spiritual, political and philosophical concerns (as he often did in his books).
The main plot concerns a renegade Catholic priest on the run from a Secret Policeman working for the Revolutionary government. This is no simplistic narrative. The Secular Humanist perspective of the policeman and the State is presented every bit as sympathetically and fairly as the Christian world view which Greene himself believed in. This classic "hunt" type plot allows Greene to explore his theme: what happens when the power of the Secular State comes into opposition with the Spiritual power of the Church of God?
Greene's answer to that question will provide food for thought and debate for all serious readers.
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Format: Paperback
(4.5 stars) Graham Greene's most elaborate and personal examination of the good life--and the role of the Catholic church in teaching what the good life is--revolves around an unnamed "whiskey priest" in Mexico in the 1930s. Religious persecution is rife as secular rulers, wanting to bring about social change, blame the church for the country's ills. When the novel opens, the church, its priests, and all its symbols have been banned for the past eight years from a state near Veracruz. Priests have been expelled, murdered, or forced to renounce their callings. The whiskey priest, however, has stayed, bringing whatever solace he can to the poor who need him, while at the same time finding solace himself in the bottle.

Constantly on the move, the priest suffers agonizing conflicts. His sense of guilt for the past includes a brief romantic interlude which has produced a child, and though he recognizes that he is often weak, selfish, and fearful, he still tries to bring comfort to the faithful. Pursued by a police lieutenant who believes that justice for all can only occur if the church is destroyed, and by a mestizo, who is seeking the substantial reward for turning him in, the desperate priest finally decides to escape to a nearby state in which religion is not banned so that the police will stop killing hostages taken in the villages he has visited.

The police pursuit of the priest is paralleled by their pursuit of a "gringo" murderer, a man so base that he thinks nothing of murdering children, yet the priest even sees value in this man's life, and when the gringo, the mestizo, the lieutenant, and the priest finally come together, Greene's philosophical and religious analysis reaches its climax.
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