Today’s THREE DOLLAR CLASSIC is Graham Greene’s best novel

Some authors’ stuff is constantly on sale online. And one such author is Graham Greene. I’ve at one time or another picked up six Greene novels on sale, and if I was willing to repurchase books I’d already read, that number would easily have doubled. 

But today the very best of them is on sale. I wrote about The Power and the Glory back when I read it in 2012, but it’s a book that’s stuck with me for many years. It’s the story of a priest in 1930s Mexico who’s being hunted down by the officer of an anti-clerical leftist regime. There are shades of Les Miserables, in that, like Javert, the hunter is honest, sincere, and incorruptible. But the priest is no Jean Valjean. He’s a drunk, and he’s broken his vow of celibacy with multiple women, and has (if my memory serves me well) at least one illegitimate child. At times, it’s not even clear how deeply he believes in God.

He is in every way exactly what his foes believe him to be: the cynical peddler of an outmoded superstition. And that’s exactly where the strength of the book lies. This is one Greene’s Catholic novels, written after his conversion, and in this book I think Greene makes the most succinct and cogent case for Catholicism that I’ve ever read.

Because despite all of his flaws, there is something very moving in the priest’s rounds. His religion is a source of strength both for him and for the people he visits. And there is magic within the rituals themselves. I think Greene does quite a job of conveying the numinous and transcendent, and the book leaves you with the feeling that Catholicism, with its hierarchies and rituals and dogmas, is an edifice that is stronger than all of the people who built–the Church is like a power generator that can energize human beings, stimulating the deepest parts of their being. The Church comes off as something that is beyond and above mankind.

Of course, I don’t actually believe that. But when you’re reading the novel you do! Get it for 1.99 today.

Honorable Mention: A completely different classic Graham Greene novel, Our Man In Havana, is also on sale today.

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