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Indisputably one of the few masterful story-tellers of modern times, Graham Greene is considered by many to have produced his most powerful book in The Power and The Glory. Set in a remote section of Mexico, it unfolds the story of a hunted, driven, desperate man - a priest. He is first presented simply as the quarry of an organized hunt; then, as the focus sharpens, the mIndisputably one of the few masterful story-tellers of modern times, Graham Greene is considered by many to have produced his most powerful book in The Power and The Glory. Set in a remote section of Mexico, it unfolds the story of a hunted, driven, desperate man - a priest. He is first presented simply as the quarry of an organized hunt; then, as the focus sharpens, the man himself is revealed in terms of the driving terror that motivates his flight. Against a background of exotic scenes and characters, the tale is not only a brilliant drama of suspense, but a profound psychological adventure....

Title : the power and the glory
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ISBN : 9902551
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 301 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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the power and the glory Reviews

  • Jim Fonseca
    2018-12-16 10:31

    Graham Greene is known as a “Catholic novelist” even though he objected to that description. I mention that because this book is one of his four novels, which, according to Wiki, source of all wisdom, “are the gold standard of the Catholic novel.” The other three are Brighton Rock, The Heart of the Matter, and The End of the Affair.Like many other Greene novels, this one is set in a down-and-out environment in a Third World country. (Third World at least at the time Greene visited: Mexico and Africa in the 1930’s and 1940’s; Haiti, Cuba and the Congo in the 1950’s.) Greene’s travels around the world (including a stint as a British spy in WW II) informed many of his novels. This one, The Power and the Glory, was based on his travels in Mexico in 1938; The Comedians, Haiti; A Burnt Out Case, the Congo; Our Man in Havana, Cuba, and The Heart of the Matter, Sierra Leone. Greene hit his literary stride in writing set in these destitute countries marked by starvation, disease, political tyranny, graft and corruption. In this novel the focus is on anti-clericalism in Mexico in the 1930’s. Greene’s publisher specifically paid for his trip to Mexico for this purpose in 1938. Anti-clericalism has a long history in Mexico related to the Revolutions in 1860 and 1910 and the Constitution of 1917 which seized church land, outlawed monastic orders, banned public worship outside of churches, took away political rights from clergy and prohibited primary education by churches. By the 1930’s the persecution of clergy had reached new heights, varying in each Mexican state depending upon the political inclinations of the governors. In Tabasco state, on the southernmost curve of the Gulf of Mexico, persecution was the worst and it’s likely the geographical setting of the story. We’re in a place of subsistence farming and banana plantations, days from any city by walking, mule or water. Churches here were closed and many destroyed. Priests were forbidden to wear garb or even conduct masses and many were forced to marry. The persecution escalated to the point where priests were hunted down by police and executed without trial. On to the story: Our main character is a priest on the run because there is a reward on his head. He's not dressed as a priest but his diction and decorum as an educated man give him away. Just about everyone he meets assumes he’s a priest on the run. But he’s a “whiskey priest,” addicted to his wine. He has also fathered an illegitimate child. At one point he meets his 7-year old daughter for the first time. Everywhere he goes crowds of peasants beseech him to perform a mass, conduct weddings and baptisms. Depending on his level of fear, sometimes, in despair, he ignores them and moves on; other times he conducts the sacraments. Sometimes he calculates how much he will charge for baptisms and how many bottles of wine the receipts will buy him. Because of his drinking, his illicit liaison, and his fear of death by firing squad, he feels unworthy of his role. He’s human. We have other characters of course. A dentist, cut off by WW II from contact with his family in Europe, despairs of ever seeing them again. A precocious 13-year old runs the family plantation for her incapacitated parents. She hides the priest for a time. We have good cops/bad cops in pursuit of the priest; some want to see him killed and some try to help him. The priest can’t trust anyone --- an offer of help may be a trap to get the reward on his head --- a huge sum in this backwards, destitute world. A few quotes:He walked slowly; happiness drained out of him more quickly and completely than out of an unhappy man: an unhappy man is always prepared.[A man talking to his wife] It’s not such a bad life…But he could feel her stiffen: the word “life” was taboo: it reminded you of death.The woman began to cry – dryly, without tears, the trapped noise of something wanting to be released…Of course, a classic. Photo from runyon.lib.utexas.eduAnti-clerical logo from newworldencyclopedia.org

  • Megha
    2018-11-23 13:12

    This little gem turned out to be quite a surprise. It is indeed powerful and it is glorious. Greene's writing seems really simple and is easy to read, and yet is so full of meaning. I am still soaking it all in.As the lead character, the 'whiskey-priest', moves from one place to another, Greene takes us along on a journey taut with suspense and tension. However, it is really his moral journey which is the most captivating. We not only witness the priest's struggle to escape, we also get to look into his tormented soul and his ambivalence. He is constantly torn between following what his religious faith has taught him while his worldly sense seems to make more practical sense. He feels guilty for his sins, but he loves the fruit of his sin. He almost wishes that he be caught so that he could be rid of the fear and the misery. But doesn't his faith teach him that it is his duty to save his soul? He has sinned and is immoral, but he is also full of compassion and love for fellow human beings. A question that haunts the priest and the reader throughout is whether he will find redemption and if his soul will achieve salvation? Or do immoralities and sins always overshadow a man's goodness? Greene makes it so easy for one to understand his characters. The priest, with his virtues and his flaws, feels like a very real person. It is not at all difficult to imagine such a person walking some part of this earth in flesh.While we read the thoughts and the convictions of the priest, the lieutenant serves as the opposing voice. Both have some ideals which I do not completely agree with, but I also don't consider either of them to be totally wrong. I also liked that the priest and the lieutenant, though rivals, are able to see the good in each other and have mutual respect. Through these two characters, Greene brings forth the impermanence of beliefs through which one defines what is "right". Life can always take such turns that one's firmly believed ideals cease to make sense anymore.As the journey proceeds and we encounter various places and characters, Greene also reveals the misery, poverty, disease and utter desolation that has engulfed these wastelands. He captures the feeling of the place and the moment with just the right words. Through his words, you can almost feel the oppressive heat or the thundering rainstorm or the tranquility and freshness of an early morning. Different characters that we meet give a sense of how bleak and despairing their life is. There is a person who cannot shirk off the idea of death, there is another with a desperate cheerfulness who has to constantly remind himself that he is happy. There are several instances where we see the difference between the world-view of adults and children. Adults who have known better times and have only those memories to draw any happiness from. While the only world their children have seen is this world of misery. These children haven't known what happiness, hope or faith means. They have matured before they have aged. All the playfulness and innocence of childhood has been drained away.Another frequently encountered theme is that of abandonment. The words 'abandoned', 'abandonment' crop up very often..be it a man who has abandoned his family, a child abandoned by her father, a man deserted in the forest. However, what Greene is really hinting at is the abandonment of this land and its people. They are cut-off from the rest of the world to rot in suffering, while the world and civilization outside progress. The future holds no promises, all hope and faith has vanished. Life has ceased to have any meaning, God himself has ceased to exist. Death is an everyday affair for them and life is just a duty to be performed from day-to-day without ever knowing its joy and charm.She said: "I would rather die.""Oh," he said, "of course. That goes without saying. But we have to go on living.""She was one of those garrulous women who show to strangers the photographs of their children: but all she had to show was coffin."For the most part the novel is bleak and grim, but it speaks of hope as well."It is one of the strange discoveries a man makes that life, however you lead it, contains moments of exhilaration: there are always comparisons which can be made with worse times:even in danger and misery the pendulum swings."Greene also reminds us of how peace and beauty can exist in the smallest of moments, which people often fail to notice until it has been left far behind."It was nearly like peace, but not quite. For peace you needed human company-his alone-ness was like a threat of things to come. Suddenly he remembered - for no apparent reason - a day of rain at the American seminary, the glass windows of the library steamed over with central heating, the tall shelves of sedate books, and a young man - a stranger from Tucson - drawing his initials on the pane with his finger - that was peace. He looked at it from outside: he couldn't believe he would ever again get in."There is so much more I have to say about this novel, I could never cover it all in a review. Let me just say it is so very human.

  • Fabian
    2018-11-24 11:29

    You can never go wrong with this guy—most definitely he's on my Top Ten list of All-Time favorite novelists. You cannot ask for crisper prose: the dialogue is practically in audio, the descriptions themselves cause impressive bouts with synesthesia. I cannot think of a single writer that is without flaw—the closest to that super-man would be Graham Greene.That being said, this is my least favorite novel of his thus far; and it is interesting to note that this one is widely hailed as his masterpiece. No sir, that title goes to “The Quiet American", a thunderbolt of supreme genius. But I even preferred “Brighton Rock”, too. Here, like in that one, Greene creates his own orb around a very fickle, very risque topic: religion (and, most specifically [not, of course, my favorite at all:] Catholicism). It is a very hard thesis to substantiate (that the search for God transcends the church) and yet the different facets in the tests and shortcomings of a very human, very counter-effective “whisky” priest proves just how false the whole enterprise is… and yet religion, it seems, is a must. I really did not side with any particular point of view, just enjoyed the ride—and it’s sort of like Cather’s “Death Comes to the Archbishop,” only better (an accomplishment without a doubt). It is ambitious and harsh, beautiful and devastating--Mexico is there, & yet not. It is cinematic and simultaneously personal. I will read ALL his others, for here's a novel to discover, & after some time naturally, to rediscover.

  • Jason Koivu
    2018-12-10 14:27

    The Power and the Glory is the sort of title to inspire readers to great deeds, pushing beyond the bounds of normal reading capabilities to turn pages at superhuman speed! But alas no. And why not? Afterall, the premise is promising...A cynical, whiskey priest sneaks about the poor, rural lands of southern Mexico, evading capture for the treasonous action of being a priest. The question is whether he's on the lam to preach the word of god or to save his own neck.I haven't read much Graham Greene, but what I have read makes me think Greene could turn a phrase and slap a good sentence together right up there with some of the best of them. The problem seems to be his plots. They don't punch you like you expect. I always seemed to be waiting for something more out of this book and it never came, and this isn't the first time it's happened with a Greene book. Straight out of college I made a pledge to read through the works of respected authors. I powered through Kafka and then Camus. Both were exciting or at least interesting. In hindsight, I think I read them both at the perfect time in my life.Next up was Greene. He wrote over two dozen novels, and then there were plays, screenplays, children's books, travel journals, short story collections. Out of all that, all I managed to read was The Man Within, his less than spectacular first attempt at a novel. Such were the deflating affects of that ho-hum experience that twenty years passed before I picked up my second Greene, A Gun For Sale aka This Gun For Hire. It wasn't great, but it was good enough to reignite my interest. Since then I've renewed my pledge, but with lowered expectations. I just don't think I'll be able to bulldoze through his work. If only his work was a bit more exciting. As you read on a growing sense that nothing will be resolved starts to envelope you, and if you're a person that likes resolution, you're up shit's creek paddle-less, my friend. If you let the current take you, you'll float along into a boggy morass of self-doubt and moral ambiguity, where you're left to stew in unpleasant juices (<<< like contemplating a poorly mixed metaphor). Graham Greene writes thinking man's books and I don't mean books for smart folk necessarily. I mean he intends you to ponder his ideas well after you've put the book down. The Power and the Glory is just such a book. That's fine, but couldn't he have managed both? Say perhaps, a thinking man's thriller? I'm just asking for a little more spark. It would make me leap to his next book!

  • Lyn
    2018-11-27 10:13

    The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene’s 1940 novel about the Mexican state of Tabasco’s virulent anti-church campaign in the 1930s is a powerful statement about courage, duty and the persistence of faith.Greene describes the flight of the “whiskey priest” a never named survivor in the state’s operation to rid all vestiges of Catholic faith, even to the point of arresting priests, finding them guilty of treason and executing them against a wall with firing squads. Some priests were given the opportunity to renounce their faith, to marry and to forgo their earlier duties.Greene’s protagonist is a mixed bag of guilt, dogmatic devotion to duty (albeit a deeply conflicted one and in whose service he is often reluctant) and, finally, saintly mettle. During the priest's evasion from the police, Greene introduces his readers to an unsavory assortment of characters who further illustrate the signs of the times; from the over zealous and idealistic Socialist Lieutenant who chases him to the various citizens with diverse reactions to his plight and to their own faith.Told with warmth, humor and an endearing faith in humanity to do what is right in spite of the difficulties, Greene demonstrates his mastery of the language and his ability to create a work of lasting importance.

  • Perry
    2018-12-19 15:08

    A Classic Parable set in 1930s Mexico Seems of Paramount Importance Today"A tragic situation exists precisely when virtue does not triumph but when it is still felt that man is nobler than the forces which destroy him." George Orwell, "Shooting an Elephant," 1950.Greene was driven to write this sympathetic novel about the persecution of priests in Mexico after visiting the Mexican province of Tabasco in 1938 at the height of the Mexican anti-clerical purge of Marxist revolutionaries. Upon returning home, Greene called it the "fiercest persecution of religion anywhere since the reign of Elizabeth." [Note: obviously this was before the Nazis' slaughter of millions of Jews during WW II.]The Power and the Glory is Greene's nearly flawless parable of dualities in society and within us: good vs. evil, spirituality vs. materialism, love vs. hate, and the freedom of the individual versus the intrusive and paternalistic state.Greene based the novel on the life of a real-life whiskey priest who "existed for ten years in the forest and swamps, venturing out only at night." It is structured as a game of cat and mouse between the priest and an unnamed Communist police lieutenant as part of an attempt to eradicate the country of Catholicism.The lieutenant despises the church and is obsessed with capturing the priest to execute him for the greater good of the state. The communists' attempts backfired, turning the priest into a martyr in the eyes of the people. To me, the novel's focus on hope and redemption and the lessons of Greene's realistic parable make it a classic. The whiskey priest is a significantly flawed man, a bad alcoholic, who has been scandalized by fathering a child in a night of weakness with a peasant woman. He is acutely aware of his defects and failures as both a man and a priest. Although a man of the cloth with faith in a hereafter, he is terrified of pain and of death, and thus acknowledges his doubt. His knowledge of self elevates him to the level of heroic in the novel, as he is redeemed by his conviction that he is responsible for his sins and the suffering he has brought on others, especially on his illegitimate daughter. He especially feels a sharp pain when seeing her--she's around 10--because she seems to have lost her innocence way too soon and thus he sees her as having scant hope for pleasure and happiness in the world. His love for her and sense of responsibility for her plight, her ruined purity crush the man: "The world was in her heart already like the small spot of decay in a fruit." So, through the sin of her conception and the love he has for her, he finds salvation, even in his darkest hour as the chase by the lieutenant and police force gets tighter and closer.Though dark and tense, this novel is so hopeful in Greene's vision and truth that even a most flawed man can achieve redemption if he can humbly accept his fallibility and responsibility for his sins and the harm he has caused others. Indeed, such a man can gain back respect and even be admired to the point of being heroic. In today's world where our leaders spew spastic shit daily in 140 characters under a tweety bird, full of noxious narcissism, always passing the buck and refusing to admit even the possibility of their human fallibility or a sense of responsibility when things go wrong, this parable seems a particularly important read for young adults and a must-read reminder to the rest of us of our greater selves.

  • Paul Bryant
    2018-12-04 15:16

    Here we have a novel which takes faith at face value which for an atheist reader is a bit of a thwack round the fizzog with a wet towel. This novel is all about the confession and all about the Mass. (And a little bit about the baptism too.) And the reality behind these rituals is that if they aren’t done properly (by a priest) YOU yes YOU could end up going to HELL because you might then die in a state of mortal sin, i.e. outside the reach of the grace of God, these are the rules, don’t look at me like that, it’s tough I know, because Hell means infinite pain for all eternity and God will be okay with that because He created Hell and created these complicated rules so you better get a priest over right NOW since you’re looking a bit green and your eyes are puffy. You could keel over at any minute. So babies will get roasted in Hell if they don’t get baptized? So when the priest blesses the bread it then TRANSUBSTANTIATES into the actual body of Christ which is God although it still looks like bread, so that when the priest puts it in the mouths of his faithful flock he is putting God into their mouths literally? (this is what the priest in this novel says). The first thing I think when confronted with these concepts, which millions have believed and still believe, is that I’m glad I don’t believe this kind of stuff because it seems to be very bad for your mental health which Graham Greene amply demonstrates. And it’s this exact kind of stuff which so outraged the guys who made the Mexican revolution in the 1920s that they set about crushing and destroying the Catholic Church, to the extent of hunting down and shooting priests. And I was completely unaware of that! So when I was reading Graham Greene’s novel and I found it was about a priest being hunted down by the military not because he’s a criminal but because he’s a priest I was like….. wow. Heavy. And this really happened? Yes, it really did, in Mexico, between 1926 and 1934. Two things about this particular priest – he’s not got a name. Now why do authors do this – have their protagonist being all nameless? It just makes it a bit portentous. That wasn’t good. The other thing is that he’s a whisky priest, the definition of which is that he’s a bad one, an alcoholic, he’s fathered a child, he’s not very pious. He spends many pages desperately trying to get his hands on a bottle of brandy or two.The whole novel is about him being hunted up mountain and down canyon often on the back of a mule (just like Jesus!) by the also-nameless lieutenant. He’s now the last priest in the state, all others having been shot or they’ve vamoosed or they’ve been forced to marry a woman (no! – fate worse than death to a priest!) and so been de-fanged. But our Father Nameless has ducked and dived for eight years but now he’s getting to the end of his tether. As Martha and the Vandellas sang in 1964, there’s nowhere to run to, baby, nowhere to hide. No village will give him shelter, every man could be his Judas Iscariot. So why didn’t this very bad priest just take a slow boat to China or give up and get married? After all, this isn’t some brave wanna-be martyr for the Holy Roman Apostolic Catholic Church. He’s a sniveling whining self-loathing reptile most of the time. But he himself provides a great explanation. When he realized he was the last priest in his state, he was filled with euphoria. Now at last there were no fellow priests to sneer at his drunken lacksadaisical ways. He could make his own rules up! He could be exactly the kind of priest he damn well wanted to be and no one to give him a hard time any more!I think that the novel wants in the end to show that martyrdom for the true faith can happen even in the squalor of this unpleasant man’s life, and that the power and the glory may sometimes be located in the filth and the vileness. Something along those lines, I wasn’t too sure of the moral of it all. What it meant to me was something quite differentThis was is a surprisingly savage nasty grim miseryfest, a real feel-bad book for Catholics, atheists and Mexicans alike.

  • Paul
    2018-12-17 10:23

    This is the first Greene I have read in years and it is a powerful novel. It is set in Mexico and Greene has spent some time there in research. The novel is about a priest; a whisky priest in a province of Mexico where the Catholic Church is banned and priests are shot. The unnamed protagonist is a bad priest and a drunkard who has also fathered a child. He is also a coward. The title is taken from the end of The Lord's Prayer and there is religious imagery all over the place. The priest rides a donkey to his inevitable capture (having been given a chance to escape), the peasant who betrays him is Judas. Most of the other characters can be seen to represent someone in the gospel narratives; Maria, padre Jose, Tench etc. The priest is a very imperfect Christ and the Lieutenant a very implacable reperesentative of authority who is ultimately moved by the priest. The Lieutenant plays a much larger role than Pilate does in the gospels, but there is a "What is truth" Moment. The book represents Greene's own struggles with faith and the Church. There are also themes relating to abandonment, desolation, hope and the bleakness of everyday life for the poor. Greene's descriptive powers are very powerful and you can feel the stifling heat. This is a thought provoking piece and managed to offend Catholics and atheists in equal measure; quite a neat trick. I've known a few whisky priests in my time and remember one particular church and rectory which was locally christened St Glenfiddich's because of the drinking habits of the incumbent. He didn't seem to do a great deal apart from drink, but when the alcohol finally got him everyone turned out for the funeral and he was rather fondly remembered. The whisky priest here doesn't do a great deal apart from move around and perform any religious duties he was forced to by the locals. There is something here perhaps about being rather than doing.While I don't share Greene's faith it is an interesting and powerful novel with more hidden layers than I first perhaps realised

  • Chris_P
    2018-11-28 13:24

    I'm not a Christian. I most probably am an agnostic who's constantly flirting with atheism. What I feel about the Church as a constitution and the practices of the priests and their followers is contempt, to say the least. You read this, now look at my rating. OK? Read it again. Look at my rating. Get it? This is a book that's called The Power And The Glory and it's about a priest trying to stay alive in a country where all priests are executed and faith is prohibited. The reason it appealed to me, apart from the great writing and plot development, is that Greene handles the subject without being in the least dogmatic. The reason I think it's a masterpiece is that Greene, as is exactly the case with his hero, seems to be in a constant conflict with God. As a result, there are no "good Christians vs bad unfaithful people" clichés here. Many questions are raised within the story and it's for the reader to give the answers. Whether your beliefs are similar to mine or completely opposite, don't hesitate to read The Power And The Glory. You will find yourselves immersed in its pages and what you'll find there may surprise you. A true masterpiece.

  • Kemper
    2018-11-29 10:30

    One thing I know after reading this, All the Pretty Horses and Joe Lansdale’sCaptains Outrageous, I ain’t going to Mexico any time soon. Graham Greene’s classic account of a priest living on the run in a Mexican state after socialists have taken political control and are trying to abolish the Catholic Church is a grim tale of human nature at it’s best and worst. The unnamed priest is a drunk who isn’t particularly brave and has committed sins big enough to register fairly high on he Catholic Guilt-O-Meter. Even as he flees, he half-hopes to be captured and end his miserable life on the run, but he still tries to cling to his duty and faith by holding Mass and hearing confessions when possible.The priest is being pursued by a Lieutenant, a committed socialist who hates the Chruch for the way it milked the poor for every peso, yet while he believes he’s doing the best thing for the peasants, he won’t hesitate to kill some of them in an attempt to get the priest to be given up by the locals. It’s a classic portrayal of someone who puts their ideology above actual people.This is my second Graham Greene book, and like The Heart of the Matter this one has a lot to do with Catholic ideas of what damns and redeems someone. I liked it, but as a non-Catholic, I hate seeing characters tied in knots because of dogma. I tend to see their worrying about their eternal damnation for not being able to perform a ritual as kind of silly and pointless. Still, Greene’s good enough to make me sympathize with the plight of the priest, and it’s a powerful story.

  • Muhammad Shakhawat Hossain
    2018-11-21 11:25

    ব্রিটিশ লেখক গ্রাহাম গ্রিনের অন্যতম মাস্টারপিস হিসেবে খ্যাত ‘দি পাওয়ার অ্যান্ড দি গ্লোরি’। ইংরেজীভাষী দুনিয়ায় গ্রিন অত্যন্ত সম্মানিত একটি নাম। ১৯৬৬ এবং ’৬৭ সালের নোবেল পুরষ্কারের সংক্ষিপ্ত তালিকায় তাঁর নাম ছিলো, তবে ভাগ্যে শিকে ছেঁড়েনি একবারও। সাহিত্যে নোবেল পুরষ্কারের সবচেয়ে কুখ্যাত ও বিতর্কিত অধ্যায়টির সাথেও ট্র্যাজিক চরিত্র হিসেবে গ্রিনের নাম জড়িয়ে আছে। ঘটনাটি এই-১৯৭৪ সালের নোবেল পুরষ্কারের জন্য মনোনীত হয়েছিলেন ভ্লাদিমির নবোকভ, সল বেলো ও গ্রাহাম গ্রিন। কিন্তু সেবার পুরষ্কারটা ভাগাভাগি করে যেতেন দুই সুইডিশ সাহিত্যিক আয়েভিন্দ জনসন ও হ্যারি মার্টিনসন। নোবেল পুরষ্কারের আয়োজন করে যে সুইডিশ একাডেমি, তারই সদস্য এই দু’জন। নিজেরাই নিজেদের পুরষ্কৃত করবার এ ঘটনায় নোবেল কমিটির গায়ে এমনই দীর্ঘমেয়াদি কালিমা লেপে গেলো, এ সহজে উঠবার নয়, আরো ম্যালাদিন সাহিত্যের আলোচনায় এ গল্পটি উঠে আসবে। বেলো তাও শেষ পর্যন্ত বছর দুই পরেই নোবেল জেতেন, নবোকভ, গ্রিন-কারোরই আর পাওয়া হয়নি। নোবেল না জেতা পৃথিবীর অন্যতম শ্রেষ্ঠ (কখনো কখনো হয়তো শ্রেষ্ঠতম!) সেইসব সাহিত্যিকদের তালিকায় চলে গেলেন তাঁরা যেখানে আছেন তলস্তয়, চেখভ, কাফকা, জেমস জয়েস, হোর্হে বোর্হেস, কিংবা হালের চিনুয়া আচেবে, রবের্তো বোলানিওরা। এই তালিকায় আরো একটি নাম চলে আসতেই পারে-তারাশংকর বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায়। নোবেল কমিটির প্রতি করুণাই হয়, বাঙলাটা তাঁরা জানেন না, তারাশংকরের মূল্যায়ন দূরে থাক, আমার এ বক্তব্যের বিশ্বাসযোগ্যতাই তাঁরা নিরুপন করতে পারবেন না কোনদিন! সে যাক, নোবেল কেলেঙ্কারির সে ঘটনার বছর ছয়েক পরে ১৯৮০ সালে পিটার লেনন ওয়াশিংটন পোস্টে তাঁর এক নিবন্ধে পোস্ট মর্টেম করতে বসলেন কেন গ্রিন নোবেলটা জিতলেন না। রীতিমতো জেরা করেছেন লেনন নোবেল কমিটির সবচেয়ে ওজনদার দুই মহারথী ড. আর্টার লান্ডকভিস্ট ও অ্যান্ডার্স অস্টার্লিংকে। লান্ডকভিস্টের বয়েস তখন ৭৪, তখন পর্যন্ত টানা ১২ বছর নোবেল কমিটির সদস্য। অস্টার্লিং-এর চলে ৯৬; ১৯১৯ সাল থেকে ১৯৮১-তে মৃত্যুর আগ পর্যন্ত ৬২ বছর নোবেল কমিটির সদস্যের দায়িত্ব পালন করে এসেছেন। লেনন অনেক আশ কথা পাশ নিয়ে আলোচনা করবার পর বেমক্কা সরাসরিই প্রশ্ন করে বসেন লান্ডকভিস্টকে, ‘গ্রাহাম গ্রিনকে নোবেল দেন নি কেন?’ জবাবে লান্ডকভিস্ট প্রথমে বলেন নোবেল প্রাপ্তিটা একজনের সিদ্ধান্তে হয় না, রায়ের পক্ষে দল ভারী হতে হয়। উল্লেখ করেন বছর তিরিশেক আগেও তিনি পাওয়ার অ্যান্ড দি গ্লোরিকে উঁচুমানের কাজ মনে করতেন, কিন্তু ধীরে ধীরে গ্রিনের কলম ভোঁতা হয়ে যাওয়ায় তাঁকে আর গোণায় ধরেননি। এ কথার প্রেক্ষিতে যখন লেনন স্টেইনবেক আর শলোকভের প্রসঙ্গ টেনে এনে লান্ডকভিস্টকে প্রায় চেপেই ধরেন (জন স্টেইনবেক তাঁর শেষ উল্লেখ্যযোগ্য কাজ ‘দি গ্রেইপস অফ র‍্যাথ’ প্রকাশের ২৩ বছর পর নোবেল জেতেন। মিখাইল শলোকভ জেতেন তাঁর শ্রেষ্ঠ কাজ 'প্রশান্ত দন’ প্রকাশের ৪০ বছর পর!) তখন তিনি উত্তর দেন গ্রিন আসলে বড্ড বেশী জনপ্রিয় তাছাড়া নোবেল পুরষ্কারের টাকাটাও গ্রিনের দরকার ছিলোনা। টাকার দরকার বেকেটেরও ছিলোনা, তবুও তাঁর ঝুলিতে নোবেল ঠিকই গেছে। লান্ডকভিস্ট অবশ্য উল্লেখ করেন প্যাট্রিক হোয়াইটের কথা, ইংরেজীভাষী ছাড়া যাঁর পরিচিতি আর কারো কাছেই বড়ো একটা ছিলোনা। নোবেলের সবচেয়ে বড় অবদান ওটাই। কত কত অপরিচিত লেখক-কবিকে পৃথিবীর সামনে তুলে ধরলো এ পুরষ্কার! নোবেলটা না থাকলে ভাষার দূরত্বের কারণে মহান কত লেখকের সাথে কোনদিন পরিচিতিও ঘটতোনা তা ভাবলেও গায়ে কাঁটা দেয়। গ্রিন প্রসঙ্গে লান্ডকভিস্টের মতো অমন না ঘুরিয়ে অস্টার্লিং সরাসরিই দুঃখ করে বলেন গ্রিনের না পাওয়ায় regret করবার কথা। আক্ষেপ করলেন গ্রিনের নামটা নোবেল প্রাপ্তদের তালিকাটার মহিমা বাড়াতেই পারতো ভেবে। অশীতিপর বৃদ্ধ কপালও চাপড়ালেন ’৭৪ এর সেই ঘটনা নিয়ে, বলেই দিলেন জনসন ও মার্টিনসনকে পুরষ্কৃত করাটা বড্ড ভুল ছিলো। লেখককে চেনাবার ব্যাপারে পুরষ্কারের ভূমিকার প্রসঙ্গে বাঙলাদেশী লেখক মোরশেদ শফিউল হাসানের এই চমৎকার সাক্ষাৎকারটির কথা উল্লেখ না করলেই নয়। এ বছর বাঙলা একাডেমি পুরষ্কার পাবার পর তাঁর এ সাক্ষাৎকারটি নেয়া হয়। বাঙলা সাহিত্যে যাঁদের অসীম আগ্রহ, তাঁদের implore করি সাক্ষাৎকারটি পড়ে দেখবার (ইংরেজী implore শব্দটির মোক্ষম বাঙলা প্রতিশব্দ কই? প্রধান শিক্ষকের কাছে ফাঁকিবাজ ছাত্রের ছুটি চাহিয়া আবেদনপত্রে আর অর্থহীন মিথ্যে প্রতিশ্রুতির বন্যা বইয়ে দেয়া রাজনৈতিকদের ফালতু বকোয়াজে ‘আকুল আবেদন’ শব্দদ্বয় এতো ব্যবহৃত হয়েছে যে বাঙলায় ঐ অনুরোধটি আদৌ আর কিছু বোঝায় না, ওটা স্রেফ বাগাড়ম্বরে পরিণত হয়েছে)। পুরষ্কারের মূল্যায়নকে কিভাবে দেখেন সে প্রসঙ্গে একেবারেই অচেনা কিন্তু প্রৌঢ়ত্বের সীমায় দাঁড়িয়ে থাকা এ লেখক বলেন, ‘...পুরষ্কারের একটা সামাজিক, আর্থিক ও প্রচারমূল্য আছে। যাঁরা এ পর্যন্ত আমার কোন বই বা লেখা পড়েন নি, হয়তো সামনেও পড়বেননা, তাঁরাও হয়তো পুরষ্কারের কথা শুনে এবার একটু ফিরে তাকাবেন। এদিক থেকে পুরষ্কারের গুরুত্ব তো অবশ্যই আছে। আমি সেভাবেই একে গ্রহণ করেছি’ লেখকের জন্য সবচেয়ে বড় গুণটি তাঁর সততা; বিদ্যের দৌড় বা লেখনীর শক্তির চেয়েও ঢের গুরুত্বপূর্ণ এটি। আমরা অভিশপ্ত, কারণ, আমাদের দেশের সাহিত্যে সৎ লেখকদের অভাবটা বড্ড বেশী। হুমায়ূন আহমেদ, হুমায়ূন আজাদ, সৈয়দ শামসুল হক, নির্মলেন্দু গুণ, আল মাহমুদ-এঁরা সবাই বড় নাম, কিন্তু এঁরা প্রত্যেকেই কপটও বটেন, কোন না কোন ক্ষেত্রে নিজেকে বিকিয়ে দিয়েছেন। বাঙলাদেশের সাহিত্য জগতের মানুষদের বদমায়েশি আর ভণ্ডামি দেখে দারুণ সংবেদনশীল আর অভিমানী লেখক মাহমুদুল হক তো তাঁর মৃত্যুর প্রায় তিন দশক আগেই লেখালেখি ছেড়ে দেন। মোরশেদ শফিউল হাসানের লেখার সাথে আমার নিজের পরিচয় নেই, তবে অমন চাঁছাছোলা ভঙ্গিতে যিনি কথা বলতে জানেন, তাঁর ওপর চোখ রাখাটা অবশ্য কর্তব্যই বটে!‘দি পাওয়ার অ্যান্ড দি গ্লোরি’র প্রেক্ষাপট তিরিশের দশকের মেক্সিকো, যখন মেক্সিকোর তৎকালীন সরকার ক্যাথলিক চার্চের ওপর কড়া নিষেধাজ্ঞা জারী করে। পুরুত-ঠাকুর সহ ক্যাথলিক সংস্থাগুলোর সাথে জড়িত সবার বিরুদ্ধেই ব্যাপক ধরপাকড় অভিযান চলে সে সময়টায়। মূলত সব রকম ধর্মের অনুশাসন ও ধর্মীয় আচার চিরতরে মুছে ফেলাটাই উদ্দেশ্য ছিলো সে সময়ের সরকারের। রাষ্ট্র ও ধর্মীয় প্রতিষ্ঠান-বিশেষত ক্যাথলিক সংস্থাগুলো-এর এই সংঘাতের ফলে মেক্সিকোয় ঘটে যায় প্রায় চার বছর মেয়াদী ক্রিস্টেরো যুদ্ধ (১৯২৬-১৯২৯) যা থামিয়ে দেয় প্রায় আড়াই লক্ষ জীবন। ক্রিস্টেরো যুদ্ধেরও রয়েছে প্রেক্ষাপট; মেক্সিকোতে ক্যাথলিক বিরোধী মনোভাব এ যুদ্ধের বেশ কয়েক যুগ আগে থেকেই বিরাজ করছিলো। ১৮৫৭ সালে মেক্সিকোর প্রথম আধুনিক যে সংবিধান রচনা করা হয়, তাতে বেশ উদারপন্থার পরিচয় পাওয়া যায়; মতপ্রকাশের স্বাধীনতা, দাসত্ব নির্মূল, অস্ত্র বহন করবার স্বাধীনতা, মৃত্যুদণ্ড রহিত করা ইত্যাদি বিষয় তো ছিলোই, খ্রিষ্টীয় প্রতিষ্ঠানগুলো যেন নিজেদের মালিকানাধীন ব্যতীত অন্য কোন জমি বা সম্পত্তির দখলে কোনোরূপ হস্তক্ষেপ করতে না পারে সে দিকেও বিশেষ জোর দেয়া হয়। বলাবাহুল্যমাত্র, ধর্মবাদী রক্ষণশীল গোঁড়া দলগুলোর এই ব্যবস্থা মোটেই মনোঃপুত হয়নি এবং নিজেদের অধিকার আদায়ে তারা বেশ সোচ্চার হয়ে ওঠে। এইসব গোলমালের মাঝেই ১৮৭৬ সালে মেক্সিকোর ২৯তম রাষ্ট্রপতি হিসেবে ক্ষমতায় আসেন পরফিরিও দিয়াজ যিনি পরবর্তীতে কয়েক দফায় সর্বমোট ৩৫ বছর মতো শাসনক্ষমতায় ছিলেন। দিয়াজ আজ অব্দি বেশ বিতর্কিত একটি চরিত্র। তাঁর সময়ে মেক্সিকোর দীর্ঘদিন থেকে চলে আসা নানা সংঘাতের অবসান হয় বটে, গোটা দেশে চরম রাজনৈতিক স্থবিরতাও নেমে আসে; তিন দশকের বেশী সময় ধরে একজনের হাতেই শাসনদণ্ড থেকে গেলে যা হবারই কথা। এই সময়টাতে দিয়াজের নিজের লোকেরা প্রচুর টাকা বানিয়েছে, সম্পত্তির পাহাড় গড়েছে; বিপরীতে, দেশের সাধারণ মানুষের দৈনন্দিন জীবন যাপন করতেই নাভিশ্বাস উঠেছে। বিরক্তির চরম সীমায় পৌঁছে শেষ পর্যন্ত মেক্সিকোর জনগণ রাস্তায় নেমে আসে এবং এর ফলশ্রুতিতেই সংঘটিত হয় ১৯১০ সালের মেক্সিকো বিপ্লব যা মেক্সিকোর ইতিহাসেরই সবচেয়ে বড় সংঘাত। ক্ষমতাচ্যুত হন দিয়াজ। দিয়াজ নিজে ফ্রিম্যাসন ছিলেন কিন্তু ক্যাথলিক চার্চের বিরুদ্ধেও কখনো যান নি, দু’দিকেই ছাতা ধরে রেখেছিলেন, ফলে দিয়াজ-পরবর্তী সময়ে যখন ক্যাথলিক-গোষ্ঠী সরকারের ক্যাথলিক বিরোধীতার বিপক্ষে আন্দোলন শুরু করে, তারা দিয়াজকেই সমর্থন দেয়। দিয়াজের উচ্ছেদের পর মেক্সিকো বেশ টালমাটাল একটা সময় কাটায়, এর মাঝে ১৪ বছরে স্থায়ী-অস্থায়ী মিলিয়ে ৯ জন রাষ্ট্রপতি আসা যাওয়া করেন। ১৮৫৭ সালের সেই সংবিধানের ওপর ভিত্তি করেই ১৯১৭ সালে প্রণয়ন করা হয় নতুন সংবিধান। ১৩৬টি অনুচ্ছেদের এই সংবিধানের অন্যতম প্রধান বিষয়টি হলো রাষ্ট্র থেকে ধর্মের পৃথকীকরণ যার ফলে ধর্মীয় প্রতিষ্ঠানগুলো আইনের আওতায় এসে পড়ে। ধর্মভিত্তিক শিক্ষা বাদ দিয়ে বিজ্ঞানের আলোকে সকল সংস্কার ও অজ্ঞানতাকে মোকাবেলা করার বিষয়টি উঠে আসে মোটা দাগে। পাঠক ও বোদ্ধামহলে গ্রাহাম গ্রিনের খ্যাতি আছে ‘ক্যাথলিক রাইটার’ হিসেবে, যদিও গ্রিন নিজে ক্যাথলিকবাদের সাথে তাঁর অমন দৃঢ় সংশ্লিষ্টতার ‘অপবাদ’টি বরাবরই অস্বীকার করে গেছেন। ১৯৩৮ সালে তিনি মেক্সিকো গিয়ে ক্যাথলিক-বিদ্বেষ স্বচক্ষে দেখে আসেন যার প্রেক্ষিতেই ১৯৪১ সালে লেখেন পাওয়ার অ্যান্ড দি গ্লোরি। যে সময়টায় গ্রিন মেক্সিকো যান, তখন সেখানের সরকার গীর্জার পুরোহিতদের বিয়ে করতে বাধ্য করছে, তাদের ঐতিহ্যবাহী ধর্মীয় পোষাক পরবার ওপর নিষেধাজ্ঞা জারি করছে, বহু ধর্মপ্রচারককে খুঁজে বার করে হত্যাও করা হচ্ছে। এসব দেখে শুনে বিষাদে কুঁকড়ে গিয়ে গ্রিন লিখেছিলেন ‘...ঐ দিন থেকেই আমি সম্ভবত মেক্সিকানদের ঘৃণা করতে শুরু করি’। একই সাথে, মেক্সিকোর দক্ষিণের একটি রাজ্য তাবাস্কোতে গিয়ে সেখানকার হতদরিদ্র কৃষক সম্প্রদায়কে গোপনে তাদের বিশ্বাসের ওপর অবিচল আস্থা রাখতে দেখে গ্রিন ভীষণ আলোড়িত হন; পরবর্তীতে তিনি উল্লেখ করেছেন এই তাবাস্কোতে এসেই তিনি আসলে খ্রিষ্টান হয়েছেন। পাওয়ার অ্যান্ড গ্লোরির অকুস্থল হিসেবে তাবাস্কোকেই বেছে নিয়েছিলে গ্রিন। এ উপন্যাসের মূল চরিত্র নামহীন এক পাদ্রী, পুলিশের হাত থেকে যে পালিয়ে বেড়াচ্ছে; ধরা পড়লেই মৃত্যু। তার সমসাময়িক অন্য পাদ্রীরা বেশীরভাগই খুন হয়েছে পুলিশের হাতে, অনেকেই পালিয়ে গেছে অন্য রাজ্যগুলোতে, কেউ কেউ ধর্ম ত্যাগ করে বিয়ে থা করে হয়েছে সংসারী। গল্পের ফেরারী পাদ্রী নানা জাগতিক দোষে দুষ্ট; সে মদ খায়, মারিয়া নামের অবিবাহিত এক নারীর সাথে তার একটি সন্তান পর্যন্ত রয়েছে! লোকমুখে তার পরিচয় ‘হুইস্কি প্রিস্ট’ কিন্তু অতসব ‘পাপাচার’-এ লিপ্ত হয়েও সে তার পাদ্রী স্বত্ত্বাটিকে ভুলতে পারেনা কিছুতে। একদিকে পাদ্রীর চেতনার সাথে একেবারেই সাংঘর্ষিক কাজে জড়িয়ে বিবেকের কাছে ভীষণ অপরাধী হয়ে থাকার ভার, অপরদিকে নিষ্ঠার সাথে ধর্মপ্রচারকের কর্তব্য পালন-এই দুইয়ের টানাপোড়েনে প্রবল এক মানসিক যন্ত্রণায় ভোগে হুইস্কি পাদ্রী। নিজের ঔরসজাত কন্যাশিশুটিকে দেখে ঈশ্বরের কাছে ক্ষমা চাইতে পারেনা সে আর। তার মাঝেই ভালোবাসার সন্ধান পায়, নিজের অনিশ্চিত জীবনের কেন্দ্রবিন্দু হয়ে পড়ে তার এই সন্তানটি। বছরের পর বছর পুলিশের ছোঁয়ার বাইরে থাকার পরও কি এক যাতনায় সে ফিরে আসে সেই বাঘের গুহায়ই। বারবার পালিয়ে যাবার সুযোগ হাতছাড়া করে ও, যেন নিজেই নিজের কৃতকর্মের শাস্তি দিতে বদ্ধপরিকর। বেঁচে থাকার আকাঙ্ক্ষাটাও তার কম নয়, সেও তার মেয়েটির জন্যই। গ্রিন এই উপন্যাসে হুইস্কি পাদ্রীকে শেষ পর্যন্ত (ধর্মের চোখে) সত্যিকার পবিত্রতার ছোঁয়া দিয়েছেন, তুলেছেন আধ্যত্নিকতার ওপরের এক স্তরে। উপন্যাস জুড়ে পাদ্রীর প্রধান ভয় ছিলো মৃত্যুদণ্ড কার্যকর করতে পুলিশ যখন গুলি চালাবে, সে ব্যাথাটা সে সইতে পারবে কিনা; পরবর্তীতে এই ভয়টি রূপান্তরিত হয় ঈশ্বরের সামনে শূণ্য হাতে হাজির হবার ভাবনায়। দি পাওয়ার অ্যান্ড দি গ্লোরির পুলিশ বনাম পাদ্রীর এই ইঁদুর-বেড়াল খেলায় পাদ্রীকে তাড়া করে ফেরে এক লিউটেন্যান্ট। অনেকের মতে গ্রিন ক্যাথলিক চার্চকে ঘৃণা করা, নাস্তিক, সমাজবাদী এই লিউটেন্যান্টকে তাবাস্কোর সে সময়ের গভর্নর তমাস গারিদো কানাবালের আদলে তৈরী করেছেন। পাঁড় নাস্তিক কানাবালের ধর্মবিদ্বেষটা এমন পর্যায়ে ছিলো যে তিনি তার খামারের একটি ষাঁড়ের নামই দিয়েছিলেন ‘ঈশ্বর’ (God)। এছাড়াও, তাঁর ছিলো পোপ নামে একটি বলদ ও একটি বুনো শুয়োর, মেরির নামে একটি গাভী ও যীশুর নামে একটি গাধা। প্রচুর যাজক ও ধর্মপ্রচারককে হত্যা করবার অভিযোগ আছে কানাবালের বিরুদ্ধে। উপন্যাসের লিউটেন্যান্ট অবশ্য কানাবালের মতো অতটা কঠোর হয়ে ওঠে না (ট্রুথ ইজ স্ট্রেঞ্জার দ্যান ফিকশন!)। ভিক্টর হুগোর ‘লা মিজারেবল’-এ যেমন কর্তব্যপরায়ণ পুলিশ অফিসার জাভেত জাঁ ভালজাকে তাড়িয়ে বেড়ায় এবং যেমনভাবে ভালজা’র ভালোবাসার শক্তির সামনে শেষ পর্যন্ত ইস্পাত কঠিন জাভেত হার মেনে নেয়, তেমনি একটি চিত্র এই উপন্যাসে লিউটেন্যান্ট ও পাদ্রীর মাঝেও দেখা যায়। হুগো সম্ভবত এই চিত্রায়নে ঢের বেশী সফল, কিন্তু গ্রিনের পাদ্রী ঠিকই লিউটেন্যান্টের সাথে সাথে পাঠকেরও সমবেদনা আদায় করে নেয়। ক্রোধান্বিত লিউটেন্যান্ট বনাম শান্ত সৌম্য পাদ্রীর তর্কযুদ্ধ এ উপন্যাসের অন্যতম সেরা দৃশ্য। পাওয়ার অ্যান্ড দি গ্লোরি উপন্যাসের নামকরণের পেছনে যথেষ্ঠই উদ্দেশ্য আছে বোধ করি! এ নামটি নেয়া হয়েছে খ্রিষ্টান দুনিয়ার (তর্কসাপেক্ষে) সবচেয়ে জনপ্রিয় প্রার্থনা সঙ্গীত ‘লর্ডস প্রেয়ার’ এর শেষ চরণ থেকে। এই স্তবগানটিরই দ্বিতীয় চরণ থেকে ধার নিয়ে Hallowed Be Thy Name (তোমার নামের জয় হোক) শিরোনামে আয়রন মেইডেন সৃষ্টি করে মেটাল ইতিহাসের অন্যতম শ্রেষ্ঠ গানটি, সাড়ে তিন দশক পরেও যার আবেদন আজও সেই একই রকম। চরণটি থেকেই ‘লর্ড’স প্রেয়ার’-এর মূলভাব আমরা মোটামুটি আন্দাজ করে নিতে পারি। গ্রিন কেন তাঁর উপন্যাসের নাম ঈশ্বরের জয়গান গাওয়া একটি প্রার্থনা সঙ্গীত থেকে বাছলেন? গ্রিনের হুইস্কি পাদ্রী মৃত্যু নিশ্চিত জেনেও তার ধর্মবিশ্বাসকে পুঁজি করে ফেরত গিয়েছিলো তার গ্রামে যেখানে তার নামে হুলিয়া বেরিয়েছে, মাথার ওপর ঝুলছে চড়া মূল্য। কেউ যদি হুইস্কি পাদ্রীকে ফিকশন জগতের সবচেয়ে সাহসী চরিত্র বলে অভিহিত করেন, তাতে অতিকথন হয় কি না জানিনা, তবে মনের উনুনে খোঁচা দিয়ে সাহসটাকে ভীষণ রকম উসকে দিতে ধর্মবিশ্বাসের যে জুড়ি হয় না সেটি বোধহয় কেউ অস্বীকার যাবেননা। ধম্মের বিশ্বাসে বলীয়ান হওয়ায় মদখোর, কামুক হুইস্কি পাদ্রীরও পরিত্রাণ জুটেছে গ্রিনের কলমে (ঐতিহাসিকভাবেই অসম্ভব গোঁড়া ক্যাথলিক সমাজ যে এমনকি ‘ক্যাথলিক লেখক’ তকমা এঁটে যাওয়া গ্রিনেরও এই উদারপন্থাকে ভালো চোখে দেখবেন না তা আর বিচিত্র কি? ১৯৫৩ সালেই রোমান ক্যাথলিক চার্চের কার্ডিনাল গ্রিনকে ডেকে পাঠান, পাওয়ার অ্যান্ড দি গ্লোরি বইটির জন্য ব্যক্তিগতভাবে কড়কে দিতে)। পাদ্রীর এ সাহস তাই বিশ্বাসের জয়, চুপি চুপি গ্রিন খ্রিষ্টের নামের জয় ঘোষণা করলেন ঠিকই। উপন্যাসের শেষে ইঙ্গিতে জানিয়ে দিলেন ক্যাথলিকবাদ ধ্বংস হবার নয় কোনদিন। ব্যক্তিগতভাবে ক্যাথলিকবাদের ওপর আমি যথেষ্ঠই ক্ষুব্ধ ও বিরক্ত। ক্যাথলিক চার্চের হুমকি ধামকিতে শত শত বছর বিজ্ঞান একই জায়গায় আটকে ছিলো। হাস্যকর সব যুক্তি দেখিয়ে হাজার হাজার নারীকে ডাইনী প্রতীয়মান করে জ্যান্ত পুড়িয়ে মেরেছে ক্যাথলিক যাজকেরা। বেফায়দা ধর্মযুদ্ধ বাধানো, রাজা-রাজড়াদের পদলেহন করে সাধারণ মানুষের পিঠ ভাঙ্গা, কুসংস্কার আর গোঁড়া বিশ্বাসের আবর্তে জনগণকে আটকে রাখা...এ সবই ক্যাথলিক ইতিহাসের সাথে অঙ্গাঙ্গিভাবে জড়িয়ে আছে, অস্বীকার করবার উপায় নেই কোন। তবুও, গ্রাহাম গ্রিন নিজের ক্যাথলিক বিশ্বাসকে তুলে ধরার কাজে উপন্যাসটিকে ব্যবহার করেছেন শিল্পিত উপায়ে। এক শতকের কুকর্মের জন্য আরেক শতকে শাস্তি দেয়াটা কোনমতেই ন্যায্য নয়, জানি, কিন্তু প্রায় অর্ধেকটা পৃথিবীকে যে গোঁড়া ক্যাথলিকবাদ জেরবার করে দিয়েছে, সেই বিশ্বাসটিকেই যখন একটি মাত্র দেশের গুটিকয়েক রাজ্যে মার খেতে দেখি, কিছুটা খুশী কি আমি হয়ে উঠিনা? ঠিক সে জায়গাটিতেই গ্রিন আঘাত হানেন, শুনিয়ে দেন ফেরার হয়ে ঘুরে বেড়ানো অসহায় হতভাগ্য মানুষটার হৃৎপিণ্ডের জোর ধুকপুকানির আওয়াজ। বুঝিয়ে দেন, রোহিঙ্গা, মুসলমান, নাস্তিক, ক্যাথলিক, ইহুদী, নাৎজিভেদে দুনিয়ার তাবৎ তাড়া খেয়ে পালিয়ে বেড়ানো মানুষের সবার হৃদযন্ত্রটাই একই হারে, একই ছন্দে ধুকপুক করে ওঠে। গ্রিন হয়তো ক্যাথলিক, কিন্তু তার চেয়েও ঢের বড় পরিচয় তিনি শিল্পী, মানবিকতা আমরা শিখতে পাই যাঁদের কাছে।

  • Bob Newman
    2018-12-18 10:10

    When a man with a gun meets a man with a prayer.....the man with a prayer is a dead man."Not many people would start off a review of a Graham Greene novel with a paraphrase from a Clint Eastwood movie, but I am just a drifter on the high plains of literature. This is no doubt a powerful novel with the same theme of man's relation to God that suffuses many of Greene's other works. In a Mexico where state control had broken down, local satraps carried out projects of their own, taking national policy to extremes. So, in Tabasco, a warlord decreed that all priests must be expelled, forced to marry, or killed; all churches would be closed or destroyed. A few priests dared to stay behind in secret, defying the tyrant, ministering to the suffering masses (or continuing to bilk them---from an atheistic point of view) The main character here is a priest, driven from pillar to post, hunted like a bandit (indeed he is paired with a gringo killer in terms of police priorities), riding a mule through the jungles and swamps, hiding out with reluctant villagers, fearing betrayal at every step, but never giving up. He recognizes that he is a sinner (alcoholic, father of a child) but though he is human, he is yet divine through his soaring spirit, which slowly emerges and arises through his fear. Whether Greene could really get inside a Mexican priest's head is another question. I'll leave it to Mexicans to decide. A cold-blooded police lieutenant hunts the priest, swearing to kill him. He too is human, not a cardboard baddie, he has hopes for the new generation who will never be subservient to the wiles of `the Church'. A couple minor English characters appear from time to time: though well-drawn, I felt they were superfluous in a parable-style tale like this. Pain and martyrdom, sacrifice, duty, contradiction and consistency---all these in God's name or in the name of no God, but Fate. The priest escapes to Chiapas, a more moderate state, but returns at the behest of a debased informer, knowing his certain doom full well, accepting his Fate (even though dreading it) like Christ. The police lieutenant understands the priest's humanity at the end, but carries out his duty. The power wins out, but the glory lives on. A great book which carries a lot of suspense within its pages.

  • K.D. Absolutely
    2018-11-25 07:21

    I read this book during my 3-day visit in San Diego and it was an appropriate choice because of the proximity of the place to Mexico and there are more Mexicans in that place than causcasians. This book is considered by many novelists as Graham Greene's masterpiece and I think they are right.This is a story of a nameless Catholic priest who is pious but at the same time alcoholic and fathered a child. These may not be shocking at the present time but this novel created a scandal in the catholic world when it was asked by a cardinal of Westminster to be revised including the two other novels of the same author. The setting of the story was in Mexico when the government, in the 30's was trying to eradicate Catholicism in the country. The main two characters are that priest (the last one standing) and the lieutenant who was able to arrest and prosecute the priest towards the end of the story. However, prior to the final scene another priest came up that gave the hint that the catholicism was there to survive in Mexico.What I really liked about the story is the presentation of the characters. The 'human' character of the priest was not hidden for the sake of making him saint-like. Also, the character of the lieutenant was also not all evil. In fact, in most parts of the story he made more sense that the priest except when he was killing people for the priest to surface.This book is both in the 501 and 1001 Must Read Books and indeed it is right to be there.

  • Bettie☯
    2018-12-19 12:27

    (view spoiler)[Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)]

  • Jen
    2018-12-18 07:25

    I like books that have more questions than answers. But the questions have to be good, like this: "... she unhooked the child and held the face against the wood...Did she expect a miracle? And if she did, why should it not be granted her?...The priest found himself watching the child for some movement. When none came, it was as if God had missed an opportunity. Why, after all, should we expect God to punish the innocent with more life?" The Power and the Glory started off slow and stifling. The air is hot, and the sound of a fly hovering around your ear is about all you get. There is no water. A scraggly guy shows up and talks to a mediocre dentist. Ho hum. Then the scraggly guy is off, somehow needed at a dying person's side. Somewhere in the jungle lightning cracks. The air shifts. The world of the book cracks open and the ground rumbles. And suddenly, tiny razor cuts of prose start to sting. You're alive, the book's alive, the scraggly man is alive. The pain is an exquisite reminder of reality and humanity. The scraggly man is Christ in the stranger's garb. Hunted, maligned, but pressing onward, riding a donkey, shunned by his own family and surrendered to forces beyond himself that he only wishes he could fight fairer and without drops of whiskey. Obviously, I see this man being shown as a fool for the divine- a holy fool-the biblical kind of foolishness that somehow, like many Old Testament prophets, hits square on the center of truth and blackens the eye with true humility despite, because of, or combined with crazy assed behavior like being covered with matted animal skins, mouths dirty with smeared honey and locust tidbits. Am I reading too much into Greene? Consider this, the sacrificial servant passage: "If he left them, they would be safe:and they would be free from his example:he was the only priest the children could remember. It was from him they would take their ideas of the faith. But it was from him too they took God - in their mouths. When he was gone it would be as if God in all this space between the sea and 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? He was shaken by the enormity of the problem: he lay with his hands over his eyes: nowhere, in all the wide flat marshy land, was there a single person he could consult...."But this is not the only thing to see through Greene's looking glass. There's more- that right and wrong/good and evil is not a black and white road as the Catholic Church seemed to at times imply, but a gray path through a hard wilderness- that evil people can do very good things and good people can do very bad things. The sinner and the saint come in unlikely bodies and their spirits cross. And this is reality and it is also the most fantastical fantasy.Authors who deal with religious themes often include characters that, to use the lyrics of a CAKE song, "shine like justice." Greene's whiskey priest character doesn't do this. He wrestles with the divine, like Jacob with the angel the whole night through and when he awakes he finds that, like Jacob, he is limping. The priest doesn't float a foot off the muddy ground blessedly sermonizing to all he meets full of the awareness of his own power among the people, sanctified with a golden ring over his head. He walks through the mud, for years hides out among them, plodding along through life shitting and eating and fucking just like everyone else, making mistakes and trying to find meaning in the mess of it all. Greene takes characters, gives them flesh, feeds them on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and then watches them fall like the rest of us mortals. And the way that they fall! There are serial killers who use their last dying gasps of air trying to save someone else, law breakers who remain smug in false piety and feel comfortable enough passing judgement on those who share the same shitbucket, poser priests who have sold their shepherd staffs and flocks for the wolfish clothing of easy survival and governmental compliance, a conflicted lieutenant who would see his own noble theories and principles violently enforced, and a Judas figure who doesn't even have the good sense enough to hang himself from the nearest tree. And the whiskey priest shares communion with all of them, sharing the bread and the wine in equal amounts. The story distills itself by the end, culminating in a powerful and heady sip of the inevitable. The whiskey priest manages to "work out his own salvation with fear and with trembling" and abide by the Pauline exclamation that the meaning of death is the same as the meaning of life ("To live is Christ and to die is gain.") It is my understanding that the title also expresses this, through a small bit of the Lord's Prayer: "To thine be the Power and the Glory forever, amen." But, like the whiskey priest, I am open to others' interpretations.

  • James
    2018-12-05 14:16

    A truly great book and (forgive the use of what is probably a very well –worn cliché) a novel that is without a doubt powerful and glorious on many levels. Set in Mexico in the 1930’s against the backdrop of an attempted suppression of the Catholic Church by the authorities. Ostensibly this is the story of the fugitive, renegade ‘Whiskey Priest’ (a great creation and a believably authentic character) and his quest to escape the anti-Catholic authorities. This is a novel that confronts head-on the biggest of themes: sin, redemption, salvation, damnation, heaven, hell and practically everything else in between. Also encompassed here is the dogmatic approach of both organised religion and the authorities attempting to not just to crush and outlaw, but to obliterate that religion – the pitfalls, limitations, restrictions and constraints of any rigidly authoritarian belief system. But the story here is not merely as simple and straightforward as one of ‘religion vs anti-religion’ – far from it.Essentially it seems to me that the ’Whiskey Priest’ (our hero or anti-hero? – you choose) isn’t just a representation or metaphor for the Catholic Church; to me the power of this novel and the characters within goes way beyond the constraints of religion – surely the ‘Whiskey Priest’ is everyman and the story every life – comprised as they are of hopes, fears, desires, dreams, failures, victories, disappointments, faith and doubt… Graham Greene himself visited Mexico in the 1930’s and would have witnessed and been aware of the attempted suppression of the Catholic Church – something which will undoubtedly have informed elements of this novel. Green didn’t however view himself as a ‘Catholic author’ rather more – an author who happened to be Catholic. Religion as a theme, in many different ways, does seem more than evident in many of his novels. Certainly religion in this novel is considered in many ways – religion and its suppressors, organised religion juxtaposed with religion on a far more personal basis. ‘The Power and The Glory’ is simply a great and powerful work – which I look forward to reading again, as there is so much in it to fully take in and take away. It is a novel that is so well written, constructed, plotted and thought out - moving, authentic, intelligent and thought provoking. This is a very human story, it’s about the human condition and above all else – it’s about life and death, good and evil, hate and love and above all – hope.

  • Adam
    2018-12-18 10:16

    The “whisky priest” is on the run from the law from the law in Mexico. Set in period in Mexico’s history where priests where being shot and the Catholic Church was illegal, this book plays like the New Testament mixed with an existential western. Grim and suspenseful, stocked with cinematic imagery in a gothic and decaying Mexico, this book is masterpiece from the first page on. While my personal beliefs are nearer to the nihilistic lieutenant (kind of a Miltonic devil type character) chasing the priest, I think the ‘whisky priest” is one of literature’s great character. He is flawed and human but dedicated to and personifies his beliefs despite the suicidal risk he is taking. That member of the please-all McSweeney’s generation Rick Moody snarkily dismissed this book as “being too Catholic”. Well, Greene weaves his beliefs more openly into his work than say Flannery O’Conner or T.S. Eliot (early, not that “Four Quartets stuff), people of any or no belief should find this an emotionally and intellectually involving book. This is not a didactic Catholic apology but a troublesome piece of art.

  • David Schaafsma
    2018-11-23 15:05

    “He knew now that at the end there was only one thing that counted-- to be a saint.”--Greene I have always listed this book among the top ten novels of my life, but have not read it for many years. I agree with John Updike, who says of the book, “This is Greene’s masterpiece. The energy and grandeur of his finest novel derive from the will toward compassion, and an ideal communism even more Christian than Communist.” I just reread Greene’s The Heart of the Matter, but found terrific, but darker than Power and the Glory, which though also dark, sings in places, and is ultimately moving. And to this agnostic (me, I mean), he makes a powerful case for faith in God’s love:“’Oh,' the priest said, 'God is love. I don't say the heart doesn't feel a taste of it, but what a taste. The smallest glass of love mixed with a pint pot of ditch-water. We wouldn't recognize that love. It might even look like hate. It would be enough to scare us-God's love. It set fire to a bush in the desert, and smashed open graves. Oh, a man like me would run a mile to get away if he felt that love around.’” And it’s a particular kind of love, one for the poor, the indigent, and not the love of the Crystal Cathedral and the comfortably rich.“How often the priest had heard the same confession--Man was so limited: he hadn't even the ingenuity to invent a new vice: the animals knew as much. It was for this world that Christ had died: the more evil you saw and heard about you, the greater the glory lay around the death; it was too easy to die for what was good or beautiful, for home or children or civilization--it needed a God to die for the half-hearted and the corrupt.” The Power and the Glory is one of four “Catholic” novels from Greene (also including The End of the Affair and Brighton Park), though all of them feature struggles with faith worthy of Dostoevsky and Coetzee. This is a pilgrimage novel—such as John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, or even Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, in a way, a story of hope and love for dark times. The whiskey priest is stripped of every Catholic vestment, his life reduced to bare spiritual essentials. He’s not a saint, he’s very much a human being with deep flaws who continues to serve as a priest and keep his faith in God. Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation was in part intended to address what were seen as abuses of the Roman Catholic Church, which some had seen as getting rich and fat as the poor suffered. This was also the idea behind the Red Shirt anti-clericalism of Mexico in the thirties, where priests were forced to marry, and the Church and indeed all evidence of religion was eventually banned. Priests who did not renounce their faith were at one rounded up and shot. Those who didn’t turn over priests in some towns were taken hostage and shot. It is in this context Greene writes of the last priest in the state of Tabasco, who had fathered a child whom he loves, though it is evidence of his sin, his adultery. “When we love the fruit of our sin we are damned indeed.” But he can’t repent this sin, because he loves her, of course, which of course makes so sense for all of us. The priest drinks, and he is afraid of the death that he is faced with as the authorities hunt him down, as he faces “Judas” again and again. Pomp and “respectability” are taken from him, as he like Jesus goes among the poor, the destitute.“It was too easy to die for what was good or beautiful, for home or children or a civilization - it needed a God to die for the half-hearted and the corrupt.” His is identity by subtraction, as he loses everything he has owned, reduced to rags, without shoes, his backpack. And still he performs the Mass, and hears confessions of people as he goes. The priest is based on a legendary priest of that time who only came out at night.And he’s matched in Greene’s conception by a red shirt atheist/Communist lieutenant who hates the Church and its indulgences, and for not taking an active role against poverty: “It infuriated him to think that there were still people in the state who believed in a loving and merciful God. There are mystics who are said to have experienced God directly. He was a mystic, too, and what he had experienced was vacancy--a complete certainty in the existence of a dying, cooling world, of human beings who had evolved from animals for no purpose at all. He knew.” There are powerful images of such anguish, such as this one of an encounter on the road with a woman whose baby has died, who carries him in search of a blessing, maybe searching for a miracle:“The woman had gone down on her knees and was shuffling slowly across the cruel ground towards the group of crosses: the dead baby rocked on her back. When she reached the tallest cross she unhooked the child and held the face against the wood and afterwards the loins: then she crossed herself, not as ordinary Catholics do, but in a curious and complicated pattern which included the nose and ears. Did she expect a miracle? And if she did, why should it not be granted her? the priest wondered. Faith, one was told, could move mountains, and here was faith--faith in the spittle that healed the blind man and the voice that raised the dead. The evening star was out: it hung low down over the edge of the plateau: it looked as if it was within reach: and a small hot wind stirred. The priest found himself watching the child for some movement. When none came, it was as if God had missed an opportunity. The woman sat down, and taking a lump of sugar from her bundle, began to eat, and the child lay quiet at the foot of the cross. Why, after all, should we expect God to punish the innocent with more life?”This is a powerful novel of spiritual depth, one of my favorite books ever. When I first read it I was a Christian, and again when I taught it, and now think of myself as an agnostic, but I was still very moved by this book all the way through. Greene was asked where the whisky priest was, in the afterlife, and he answered “purgatory,” which is to say neither saint nor damned, but as a deeply flawed and sympathetic human being who loves his daughter, who makes him realize: “We must love the whole world as if it were a single child.” With that kind of love, then, you could have some chance of changing the world.

  • StevenGodin
    2018-12-05 14:03

    After being received into the Roman Catholic Church Graham Greene would some years later travel to Mexico in 1938 to report and witness first hand the persecution of the clergy, this would clearly go on to have a major impact in writing 'The Power and the Glory', which sees an unnamed Priest (known to locals as the 'whisky Priest') go on the run from the authorities during a time of religious hostilities where many Priests were tried for treason and shot, with only his mule and little in the way of supplies he navigates the harsh terrain trying to evade capture, and it's the humane and compassionate poor folk of small towns and villages along the way that help to keep him safe even while being offered a reward for his arrest, all the while the Priest is struggling with his own demons and bringing into question his faith and that of those around him. At times things get pretty tense where capture seems inevitable only for him to somehow escape, but I never felt he was in anyway afraid of his outcome and that his life was basically in the hands of God to decide his fate. Although written as a work of fiction I would not be surprised if some content was based on fact, and the writing is highly believable and impeccable throughout, as my first Graham Greene novel I can fully understand why he was considered one of the greats.

  • Edward
    2018-12-19 13:23

    Introduction--The Power and the Glory

  • Ben
    2018-12-08 15:28

    My first Graham Greene novel was The End of the Affair and it rocked my world, and affected me in some profound ways. It was the perfect novel for me at the time, and I am forever indebted to Mr. Greene for giving me that enlightening experience.Going into this, I knew better than to expect the same magnitude of visceral reaction that I had with The End of the Affair, but nonetheless, because the connection I had with the aforementioned was so strong, I couldn't help but have decently high expectations.So, were my expectations met? You're thinking, "Three stars, of course not." And of course you're right in a sense. But you're also wrong, because I'm not the least bit disappointed in the writing; it's amazing. In our discussion group, Megha brought up the point that she couldn't imagine someone giving this book less than three stars because of the writing. I couldn't agree more. And as goodreaders constantly prove that the world isn't full of idiots after all, I found that only 4% of those having rated this gave it 2 stars, and a rounded-down 0% gave it 1 star. That makes sense. The story's nuances, the human complexities of the protagonist Whisky Priest, and the novel's complex questions of morality should satisfy most of the intellectually hungry. On a cerebral level, this novel does not disappoint. While The End of the Affair is an existential kick in the nuts, this is an ongoing observation; a thought process with rewards for the careful reader. The setting of scorching hot, desolate Mexico is descriptive and engrossing, and the storyline is complex enough and sensitive enough to the human condition, to rightly be considered as a possible masterpiece. Yet, as is often the case with fiction, whether something speaks to your gut or not, may come down to a string of subjective and perhaps only loosely definable reasons; some (or even all) of which, you don't fully comprehend. And, for whatever reason(s), this novel didn't speak to me. While I appreciated the nuances and very-human elements involved with the Whisky Priest, I just couldn't get myself to feel for his plight.So, how could I identify more with a self obsessive, hardened hater such as Maurice Bendrix from The End of the Affair, than a well-meaning, soft hearted, guilt-feeling, conscience-carrying priest? Subjective, personal, psychological reasons, I assume. One off the top of my head is that my struggles of faith are more similar to the struggles that Maurice and Sarah had, than those had by this here, protagonist. I don't recall the Whisky Priest ever questioning the existence of God; most of his struggles were in the context of doctrine, or with forgiveness and grace, instead. I relate more to the back and fourth between belief and unbelief; the constant questioning of faith that took place in The End of the Affair.If I have one important, reasoned qualm with this book, it's this: Beyond the Whisky Priest, few characters are developed enough. It's rare that I say a book is too short, but I think I would have gotten more out of this had Greene developed the other main characters with the thorough, insightful precision I know he's capable of. Nonetheless, this is a well-written novel that should result in your appreciation, even if it doesn't speak to you.

  • Chiara Pagliochini
    2018-12-14 09:27

    I migliori romanzi sono quelli che mi lasciano come sono adesso: perplessa, moralmente scossa, vagamente isterica. Sono i migliori non tanto per il piacere che suscita la loro lettura o l’affetto che si prova per un personaggio o magari una scrittura fascinosa. Sono i migliori perché agiscono come un pungolo sulla mia coscienza, perché svitano e riavvitano i miei circuiti come un cavatappi. Controversi, grotteschi, disturbanti, si insinuano a un livello che è al di sotto della coscienza psicologica e che, dostoevskianamente parlando, chiamano in causa la mia identità morale. Vorrei trovare delle parole semplici per spiegarvelo, ma non sono semplici gli argomenti di cui parliamo. Peccato, santità, dannazione, redenzione: paroloni cristiani decisamente demodé, non più buoni neanche per le messe di Pasqua e di Natale. Idee, pure, che non mancano di esercitare un grande fascino su di me, nella loro astratta grandezza e sentenziosità. “Il potere e la gloria” nasce da un viaggio in Messico compiuto da Greene nel 1938, per investigare sulla feroce persecuzione cristiana a opera di un regime comunista di recente istallazione. Quello che Greene trova in Messico sono chiese distrutte, campisanti mutilati, preti costretti a sposarsi o fucilati se dissidenti. Il tutto non in uno spirito di cieca distruzione del passato, ma di ragionevole ricostruzione dalle fondamenta, con l’idea che « la Chiesa è ricca ed è corrotta e la gente non ha bisogno di miracoli, ma di pane ». Ma, se per estirpare la Chiesa-Istituzione bastano poche leggi, più difficile è estirparla dal cuore della povera gente, affamata e afflitta, per cui la fede cristiana in un Paradiso senza fame e senza dolore è più forte di qualsiasi promessa politica. In questo mondo arido e impervio si muove ‘the whisky priest’, il prete ubriacone, ultimo sacerdote rimasto nel raggio di centinaia di chilometri, in fuga dalla caccia serrata del ‘luogotenente’. Avversari senza nome, inquadrati nel loro ruolo: il primo un indegno rappresentante della sua classe, il secondo un uomo di saldo amore ideologico e di retti principi. Dopo una prima parte un po’ farraginosa, la narrazione segue le peregrinazioni fisiche e morali del protagonista, dilaniato dalla dolorosa consapevolezza della propria fallibilità. Orgoglioso, amante del lusso e infine talmente molle da darsi al bere, fino a infrangere l’obbligo del celibato e a concepire una figlia, ‘the whisky priest’ certamente non merita di essere l’unico officiante rimasto in una terra così avida di fede. Impossibilitato a confessarsi lui stesso, pure confessa gli altri. Impuro per ricevere l’ostia, la consacra e celebra messa. Offre parole di salvezza che è costretto a negare a se stesso. Degli altri ha pietà, non di sé. Sono questa estrema mortificazione, questa assoluta disistima, questo vedere senza falle la propria perdizione che lo rendono un personaggio caro al lettore. Così meschino, così privo di pietas e di gesti eroici, e proprio per questo così umano e vicino a noi. Se da un lato la sua redenzione appare impossibile, dall’altro la sua presa di coscienza lo indirizza verso una specie di santità, in una scissione tra poli morali che davvero ricorda un personaggio di Dostoevskij e che non saprei spiegare altrimenti a chi non conosca Ivan o Dmitrij Karamazov. In questo senso, il romanzo appare ben poco inglese, invischiato com’è nelle morbose contraddizioni del cristianesimo. Man mano che la narrazione si dipana, il lettore non può fare a meno di sentire una consonanza col suo eroe (o, più propriamente, anti-eroe) e inizia a sperare in un suo riscatto. Se un riscatto ci sia, non è mia intenzione stabilirlo o svelarlo in questa recensione. Quello che mi preme, piuttosto, è riportare un passaggio di rara bellezza, uno di quei passaggi che fa venir “fame di fede” (come capita spesso a me, pecorella sperduta, ma che pure non ha smesso di sentire il richiamo consolatorio e affascinante di quelle credenze, fosse anche a un mero livello di folclore). Un minimo di necessaria contestualizzazione: ci troviamo nella cella di una prigione, è notte, cattivo odore e corpi ammassati. Una pia donna si avvicina al sacerdote e cerca in lui un riparo contro il peccato in cui si sente invischiata, tutto quello sporco e un uomo e una donna che fanno l’amore in un angolo della cella, come animali. Un riparo che il sacerdote, animale lui stesso, non è in grado di offrire, ma che sa offrire al lettore parole bellissime, di grande umiltà. « Ma la bruttezza… »« Non ci credere. È pericoloso. Perché all’improvviso scopriamo nei nostri peccati così tanta bellezza. »« Bellezza, » disse lei con disgusto. « Qui. In questa cella. Circondati da gentaglia. »« Così tanta bellezza. I santi parlano della bellezza della sofferenza. Beh, non siamo santi, io e te. Per noi soffrire è soltanto brutto. Puzza e calca e dolore. Ma c’è bellezza in quell’angolo – per loro. C’è molto da imparare per guardare le cose con l’occhio di un santo: un santo ha un palato fine per la bellezza e può giudicare dall’alto in basso appetiti rozzi come quelli. Ma noi non possiamo permettercelo. »« Ma è peccato mortale. »« Non lo sappiamo. Forse lo è. Ma io sono un cattivo prete, lo vedi da te. So – so per esperienza – quanta bellezza Satana portò con sé quando cadde. Nessuno ha mai detto che furono gli angeli più brutti a cadere. Oh no, erano veloci e luminosi allo stesso modo che… »« Imparare a guardare le cose con l’occhio di un santo » significa anche e soprattutto mettersi sulla strada dell’amore. L’amore per Dio, certo, ma anche e soprattutto per le sue creature, fallibili, meschine, ineducate, sporche. Un amore che il sacerdote sente nella sua degradazione come non lo aveva mai sentito nei suoi giorni di rettitudine. A partire dall’amore per la figlia illegittima, un sentimento così all’improvviso nel suo cuore, incontrollabile, forte, egoista: l’amore di salvare e proteggere una sola creatura, una sola fra tante, dalla corruzione di cui il mondo le ha già macchiato il cuore. Un amore come questo è solo il primo passo verso l’amore di Dio. Un amore come questo, per diventare amore di Dio, deve essere esteso a ogni uomo, nell’istinto di proteggerlo e consolarlo dal mondo. Ma, anche quando si imparerà ad amare ciascun uomo singolarmente e l’umanità nella sua interezza, pure l’amore di Dio sarà ancora impraticabile per l’uomo. « Oh, » disse il prete, « questa è tutta un’altra cosa – Dio è amore. Non dico che il cuore non ne senta un assaggio, ma che assaggio. Il più piccolo calice di amore misto a mezza pentola di acqua sporca. Non riconosceremmo quell’amore. Potrebbe persino sembrare simile all’odio. Sarebbe abbastanza da spaventarci – l’amore di Dio. Appicca il fuoco a un cespuglio nel deserto, non è così, scoperchia sepolcri e fa camminare i morti nelle tenebre. Oh, un uomo come me correrebbe lontano un miglio se sentisse quell’amore nei paraggi. »Ho amato molto quest’uomo vile, a tratti spregevole, ma pure così schietto. Ho amato le sue belle parole e i suoi gesti di carogna, le sue contraddizioni, espresse in un tono mai predicatorio. Ho amato questo romanzo, infine, per la sua umanità, che è la cosa che sempre cerco in un libro, forse l’unica che cerco, il calore di un cuore lontano che parla al mio cuore.

  • Dave Russell
    2018-12-11 11:15

    That was another mystery: it sometimes seemed to him that venial sins—impatience, an unimportant lie, pride, a neglected opportunity—cut off from grace more completely than the worst sins of all. Then, in his innocence, he had felt no love for anyone: now in his corruption he had learnt... There is a key scene which takes place in a prison after The Priest is arrested for the less serious crime of possessing brandy and not the more serious crime of treason, for which he is also deemed guilty by the authorities. There he meets a woman whom he describes as "complacent" in her piety. His own struggle with complacency forms the core thrust of this story. Before religion was outlawed The Priest led a rather comfortable, albeit bland existence. Reading his description of his old life I was reminded of Dante's Inferno specifically the Uncommitted, the lukewarm who chose neither good nor evil. They are condemned to a sort of eternal twilight existence outside of Hell. An eternity of waiting outside the velvet rope. It's only after he is on the run does his life take on any dimension--he is unrecognizable from his photograph from those earlier days. It's while on the run that he encounters true sin, the kind that gets you past the velvet rope and into the second or third circle of Club Inferno: He fathers a child out of wedlock, an unpardonable sin because he is not truly sorry for it. He loves his daughter. Here's the paradox: it's through a sin which will condemn him to Hell according to the Church rules that he comes to understand true love and humility: This was the love he should have felt for every soul in the world: all the fear and the wish to save concentrated unjustly on the one child. But in the end he is incapable of it:He prayed, "God help them," but in the moment of prayer he switched back to his child beside the rubbish-dump, and he knew it was for her only that he prayed. Another failure.This is what makes the ending so fascinating for me. Throughout the novel the struggle of The Priest is contrasted with the struggle of The Lieutenant, a misguided and often brutal reformer who is capable of small acts of kindness nonetheless. The Lieutenant is not one of the complacent ones. In his own way he is saint, one of "Hell's Saints" to use a phrase from The End of the Affair. Even though The Priest cannot achieve saintliness, there's reason to believe that he may win a victory over The Lieutenant after all. In a world where suffering and sin is almost unavoidable, "Saintliness" (by the Church's definition) may not be necessary after all. Such a wonderful ending and such a humane vision.

  • Alex
    2018-12-07 11:15

    Graham Greene's whisky priest is one of our better martyrs. Self-loathing, self-pitying, starving, he shambles helplessly through this parable of a book.It gets off to a fragmented start; for the first third or so, you might not be sure who the protagonist is. Stick with it; it will gain focus, and everyone is there for a reason. Greene's structure is in fact precise. The fat, hopeless Padre Jose, miserably married, is there to show us what the whisky priest is doing right. The vicious but surprising lieutenant is a key player. The dentist...well, okay, I'm not totally sure what he's about, but he feels right. Even Luis, the boy bored by the lame story of pious Juan, turns out to be the whole point.The point is hopeful. This is a forgiving conception of God, oddly enough. In its way it recalls that last sentence of the great Middlemarch:The growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs. Eliot wasn't talking about God, and Greene is, but their messages are similar.I was reminded of Shūsaku Endō's searing Silence (1966), which (I now realize) must be a response to Greene. That book is also terrific. Maybe better.But this is awfully good.

  • Ivan
    2018-11-26 10:14

    4,5 stars. I really liked it. I'm not a religious man and usually don't like to read about religious theme but I liked this one. Unfortunately it's not perfect, it's not a work of genius but it's very good. The main protagonist is "Whiskey Priest", a failed weak character who maybe not failed and weak at all. Very complex hero/anti-hero. He doesn't consider himself a martyr, but that's a feature of all true martyrs - to be humble, yet ironically Whiskey Priest is or rather was kind of a proud man. He has many positive qualities but he's definitely not a saint in a traditional sense, but maybe that's what all saints are? This is the kind of book that asks questions rather than answers them. Another very interesting and troubled character is The Lieutenant, an ardent anti-religious man. He's maybe as good as Whiskey Priest but we don't know that because Greene fails to give more attention to him. For me that was a disappointment definitely, it could've been one hell of a novel had it been bigger and more spacious. The duel between Priest and Lieutenant, the Power and the Glory could've been much more epic. However even in this limited form I could easily recommend this novel as a smart and thought provoking, bittersweet story about religion, society and human nature

  • Algernon
    2018-12-13 15:29

    [9/10] a great book, I could easily have given it 5 stars, but I'm trying to curb my enthusiasm a little, seeing how high my overall rating is. What can I do? I love books and I'm not that difficult to please. Although pleasing is not the first thing that comes to mind about The Power and The Glory.Disturbing, heart wrenching, gloomy, suicidally downbeat for most of the journey - yet I feel this is a story that needed to be told, one that couldn't be sugar coated with witty remarks or beautiful phrasing.The first things to meet the reader are the buzzards hanging on top of derelict buildings in a small Mexican town suffocated by relentless heat and poverty. The setting feels like the cemetery of dreams - all dreams, whether they are of monetary success (the dentist) , revolutionary victory (the lieutenant) or redemption (priest) .The Father is a memorable character not in his role as the last priest to escape fatal persecution at the hands of the new government, but in his human frailty. In his own words he is not a martyr and is not trying to become one, but for all his vices and weaknesses, he is still trying to do good for his fellow men, deserving or not. He is also self aware and constantly struggling to reconcile his cowardice with his enduring belief in a higher power. I don't subscribe to any established religion myself (I prefer the term "humanist" to "atheist") , but I have always been interested in the role faith plays both in the individual development and in defining a culture at a certain moment in time. This book provided a lot of food for thought, and while it criticizes some of the most ill advised practices of catholicism (celibacy, greed, intransigence, the doctrine of suffering in this life for rewards in the next one) , it also brings out the best in some people - mercy, tolerance, empathy, selflessness.The book also contains one quote that I have long memorized, without putting it in the context of this particular story: Hate is a failure of the imagination If I have any criticism of the book, it will not be about the writing - Greene outdid himself here - but with a little anti-science sermon right by the end. I'm trying not to give spoilers, but it was a claim that miracles still happen today and scientists are refusing to acknowledge them. It felt for me unnecessary to the story so far and poorly argumented.

  • umberto
    2018-11-24 11:24

    This is the first novel in which its partial extract to read in an English literature course eventually introduced me to know Graham Greene and I had to learn to enjoy reading him more from his other works. It's a pity I can't recall the exact pages due to such a long time, 43 years ago. A bit embittered, I did my best to keep reading, struggling with this formidable hardship and learned to gain more light on those new words, idioms, phrases, etc. used in the novel. It was a kind of tough adventure in which I had since found challenging, literarily speaking. Some lines scribbled on its end page suggested that the wordy novel essentially required my concentration on the background of every character because it has evolved from rather complicated structures; therefore, I may like Greene more if I have some able advisors to solve what I'm in doubt.I still recall my impressions on his strikingly amazing words and sentences used in this novel due to the rarity, in other words, I had then never read/heard them before. I couldn't help but underline them in red ink and thought they would be useful in my written or spoken English later. For example:The man swung his hammock back and forth. He said, 'It's better to be alive and poor than rich and dead.' (p. 84) [second sentence underlined]The priest got up again and drank more water. He wasn't very thirsty; he was satisfying a sense of luxury. (p. 162) [the last clause underlined]He said, 'Pride was what made the angels fall. ...' (p. 196) [quoted sentence underlined]Note:Today (2016.9.5) around noon I vaguely recalled reading part of the studied text revealing a scene with a swarm of flies in the heat of the sun. I hope to find it out soon... This implies I have to reread the whole story from the beginning from such an ancient friend ...

  • BrokenTune
    2018-11-30 11:19

    "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.)

  • Petra
    2018-11-30 10:16

    This is a powerful little book. It shows the best and worst of dogma, as well as the cowardice and bravery of being human and living up to a standard, whatever that standard may be. The unnamed Whisky Priest is everything good and bad the human race. He's flawed, full of guilt & sin and still he struggles to do right and find his way. He holds mass and confessions, absolving others of guilt and sin.....but there's no one to absolve his guilt & sin. He will suffer always. Yet, he faces himself and becomes a martyr for all, in a quiet, almost unnoticed way.The Lieutenant is also everything good and bad on the Governmental side. He truly believes the Church must be destroyed as it is destroying the peasants by robbing them of their few pesos. But in doing so, he feels no compunction in killing the peasants. Which is worse: to live in poverty or to not live at all? A powerful story.

  • Matt
    2018-12-08 11:08

    A little too heavy-handed on the Catholicism-as-last-beacon-of-light-in-dark-world bit (Hitchens referred to it as "clammy handed") but it's got all the things that make Greene a fine, fine writer as well... His cinematic vividness, his supreme control of pacing, drama and characterization, his feel for place and space...I've really got to read more of his work.It really is a pleasure to read him. His sentences go down like good scotch.