Dfordoom's Reviews > Brighton Rock

Brighton Rock by Graham Greene
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Apr 23, 08

bookshelves: crime-mystery
Read in August, 2005

Graham Greene's Brighton Rock tells the story of a young leader of one of the infamous razor gangs in 1930s Brighton who murders a journalist and then finds that his attempts to avoid any possibility of arrest lead him into ever-increasing complications and violence. A woman who had befriended the journalist sets out to bring his killer to justice. This is a remarkably dark and pessimistic novel. It’s a crime novel, but Greene has other agendas as well in this book. Greene was a Catholic, but he was an interesting sort of Catholic. One assumes he gained some kind of comfort from his religion, and one assumes it gave him the strength to go on living after his early struggles with depression, boredom and obsessive thoughts about suicide, although sometimes it’s difficult to see that exactly the attraction was. Greene was fascinated by evil, and he was fascinated by the harm that religion could do, as well as the good. Pinkie, the teenage gangster who is the main character in Brighton Rock, is thoroughly evil, and it is a particular kind of Catholic upbringing that has made him evil. Pinkie is obsessed with guilt and disgust over sex, and when he feels the stirrings of sexual desire the guilt and disgust spill over into self-hatred and anger. Pinkie does not try to justify his actions, he does not try to pretend that he is a good person forced to do evil things. He welcomes his damnation, he glories in it. He is certainly offered the chance of redemption, but he struggles against it. Ida Arnold seems to represent the life force, she represents good without hypocrisy. Interestingly enough she is the most positive and decent character in the book, and she appears to have no religious beliefs. Like I said, he was an interesting kind of Catholic! In contrast to Pinkie’s horror of sex, Ida accepts sex as part of life and attaches no moral significance to it. The third main character is Rose, an innocent who becomes involved with Pinkie as a result of having been a witness to events that could implicate Pinkie in murder. Greene’s great strength as a novelist was that he was not only concerned with moral issues, he was capable of dealing with such issues in a complex way and without being tempted by simplistic explanations. Brighton Rock is an outstanding book by a great novelist.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Steve I think this was one of his "entertainments." Whatever, I really liked it, maybe better than some of his more "serious" fiction. I loved the way this one built toward it's finish. Still on the block for me: Ministry of Fear. Great write-up!


message 2: by Joy H. (new)

Joy H. Yes, great review. Thanks.


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