A Study in Greene: Graham Greene and the Art of the Novel

By Bernard Bergonzi | Go to book overview

5
Mexico

IN spring 1938, while Brighton Rock was still in the press, Greene went to Mexico. He had been commissioned by a publisher to write a book on the state of the Catholic Church in that country, where for several years it had been persecuted by a fiercely anti-religious government. He spent some weeks travelling in the remoter regions, often in great discomfort, and produced two of his best books. The Lawless Roads, the one he had been commissioned to write, is as much an autobiographical exploration as a survey of conditions in the country, while The Power and the Glory is one of his most popular novels, and at the same time one of the most profound. The Lawless Roads is a complex and artful text. It is very literary, drawing on Greene's extensive reading, but the prose is vivid, conveying physical sensations with painful immediacy. A lighter note sometimes appears, as when he discovers a community of Mexicans who are all called 'Graham' or 'Greene'. There is a strong Catholic emphasis: the narrator makes efforts to hear Mass and sometimes attends Benediction as well; he goes to Confession when he is moving into a dangerous phase of his journey, and he recites 'Hail Marys' when he is scared in a storm. Although there is a great gulf between the Catholicism of the Mexican Indians, with their strange and extravagant devotions, and that of the Oxford-educated English convert, he recognizes a community of faith with them. The tone is set by the long quotation from Newman which provides an epigraph to

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A Study in Greene: Graham Greene and the Art of the Novel
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vi
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1: Obsessions and Jokes 12
  • 2: Into the Thirties 22
  • 3: Entertainments 61
  • 4: Brighton 80
  • 5: Mexico 103
  • 6: A Catholic Novelist? 117
  • 7: The Greene Man 142
  • 8: Manic Interludes 167
  • 9: Last Words 174
  • Books by Graham Greene 190
  • Index 193
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