Set in Mexico during the 30's, at a time when the government was trying to suppress Catholicism by making it illegal to have anything to do with Catholic rituals, devotions, and teachings, this is a powerful story of a complex man - a priest who is fleeing for his life in order to escape being caught by the authorities and killed. We are aware from the beginning that he is a "whiskey priest" and as we get to know him better we learn that he is grappling with issues of faith, doubt, guilt and remorse over past mistakes. But he is also a man of deep compassion, willing to risk the consequences of being caught and executed for the things he does to try ministering to the needs of the poor peasants he meets along his perilous attempt to make it to the border. At the same time he himself is trying to preserve his own frail faith in the midst of overwhelming evidence that life is a grim and desperate struggle for survival. After reading the novel I understand why it's considered such a masterpiece. The portrait of the priest is a compelling one - he is flawed and broken in many ways, fearful, close to despair yet driven by the spark of conviction that remains alive inside him which keeps him human. He is a good example of the fact that so often there is more good in people than their own worst actions and behaviors. I can also understand why Graham Greene is considered to be such a good writer. I loved his use of metaphor and description. For example:
"Pride wavered in his voice like a plant with shallow roots"
"he held a small spot of brandy in his glass warily - as if it were an animal to which he gave shelter but not trust."
"The knoweldge of the world lay in her like the dark explicable spot in an x-ray."
"I don't know a thing about the mercy of God. I don't know how awful the human heart looks to him."
"The Power and the Glory" was one of the most popular of Graham Greene's books. It won the Hawthornden Prize. It was originally published in 1940.
The last priest is on the run. During an anti-clerical purge in one or the southern states of Mexico, he is hunted like a hare. Too human for heroism, too humble for myatrydom, the little wordly "whisky priest" is nevertheless impelled towards hi squalid Calvary as much by his own compassion for humanity as by the efforts of his pursuers.
A baleful vulture of doom hovers over this modern crucifixion story, but above the vulture sours an eagle -- the inevitability of the Church's triumph.
Considered one of Graham Greene's masterpieces, The Power and the Glory is a poignant spiritual and physical journey for its unnamed protagonist. In anticlerical early twentieth century Mexico, a whiskey priest (one whose personal life does not live up to the Church's teachings) is the last one on the run. A lieutenant is hunting for him, taking and killing hostages. Without being pedagogical, Greene offers vivid depictions of the historical moment and locale, based on his own travels, as well as memorable lines such as "hate is just a failure of the imagination." I truly enjoyed this novel on the list of 1001 books you should read before you die about flawed human beings struggling with faith, duty, and the meaning of life.
The Power and the Glory has been listed as the "must read" Graham Greene novel and everyone should read a work of Senor Greene's, just not necessarily The Power and The Glory. This tale is gritty and hot and desprate as all Greene's work can be. The terms refer to psychological tone of the tale not the sexual tone. This book struck me as a very sad and wandering story of a very lost man, reminds me of Victor Hugo's The Bishop's Candlestick in tone. I would suggest Greens novel The Comedians as an more enjoyable read than The Power and the Glory.