Friday’s Forgotten Books: Brighton Rock

I must thank my teacher of literature who made us read Graham Greene when I was fifteen. I first read The Power and the Glory, but since then I have read most of Greene’s books. Brighton Rock is, without doubt, one of my favourites. What I like most of Brighton Rock is how the plot unfolds. Greene also wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation that was produced and directed by John and Roy Boulting in 1947.

Read an excerpt HERE.

‘Hale knew, before he had been in Brighton three hours, that they meant to murder him’. This powerful and sinister sentence is the opening line of Brighton Rock and the start of a gripping thriller. Part One of the novel, despite Greene’s later concerns that it should have been removed, sets the scene and introduces the two main protagonists, Ida and Pinkie (initially referred to as ‘the boy’ – it is not until Chapter Two that he takes on the role of main character and becomes ‘the Boy’). However, from Part Two onwards, it is quickly apparent that the novel is not just a murder mystery but also addresses metaphysical issues of Good versus Evil and the influence of the Roman Catholic Church.  (Graham Greene, Brighton Rock, The Characterisation of Good and Evil by Sarah Jones)

‘The three novels published between 1938 and 1948 (Brighton Rock, The Power and The Glory and The Heart of the Matter) are sometimes taken together as a ‘trilogy’.  Brighton Rock marks the beginning of Greene’s ‘Serious novels’. Published in 1938, it is the story of the world of race gangs and deals with the question of sin, Damnation and Salvation. A depth of meaning is to be found in this novel and the ones which followed this, setting apart the secular novels. The handling of a specifically catholic theme relates this novel to The Power and the Glory (1940) and The Heart of the Matter (1948)’. Prof. G. Chandramohan at The Indian Review of World Literature in English, Vol. 1, No. I – Jan, 2005) HERE.

10 thoughts on “Friday’s Forgotten Books: Brighton Rock”

  1. >I just finished reading Greene's COMPLETE SHORT STORIES a couple weeks ago. The man is a master of storytelling.

  2. >I reviewed the collection NINETEEN STORIES (later reissued as 21 STORIES) recently on my blog and at that time thought about reading BRIGHTON ROCK but decided to wait just a little to continue savoring those stories. I think it's time, I haven't read it in 20 years or more.

  3. I read all of Greene’s books (and he wrote a lot!) years ago. This one wasn’t my favourite but obviously it is one of his best known books and I enjoyed it in an “aren’t the characters horrible?” kind of way. I was pleased to see that my 16-year-old daughter read this book last year, indicating that it remains relevant to new generations.

    1. I’ve read most of Graham Green books, but none after Doctor Fischer of Geneva. So it was a long time ago, back in the late seventies. Horrible characters stick deeper into our minds I presume.

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