A Burnt-Out Case: One of Graham Greene’s Best Novels

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(Heinemann, 1961 dj)

Graham Greene is, arguably, England’s most prolific, popular, successful best novelist from the 1930s to ’60s, he, the author of The Power and the Glory, Brighton Rock, The Third Man, The Heart of the Matter, Travels with My Aunt, The Comedians, Monsignor Quixote, and many other fine novels and ‘entertainments’ as he called some of his works.
Querry is an architect who has mysteriously ‘dropped out’ and gone to the heart of Africa, to a leperosie to help the church there to build a much-needed hospital. He has sworn off women and religion, but people there have a need to turn him into a martyr and hero, aided by Parkinson, a media-hound, who falsifies Querry’s life-story and complicates and compromises┬áhis chosen seclusion. The ending is somewhat tragic with a significant, totally unexpected betrayal.
As with all of Greene’s books, the protagonist and main focus is an outsider who has an uneasy relationship with the Catholic church. Conflicts are realistic and layered and there is no shortage of characters with agendas. Best of all is Greene’s fantastic, smooth dialogue which communicated most of the conflicts and themes. Greene novels are always deeply ironic with many surprises and absurdities which ring true, echoing real-life experiences. His books are page-turners of high thought–well-worth the minimal effort. This book also has many interesting views of male-female relationships and love.
Highly recommended.

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