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Graham Greene's Catholic Imagination

Bosco, Mark



Much has been written about Graham Greene’s relationship to his Catholic faith and its privileged place within his texts. His early books are usually described as "Catholic Novels" — understood as a genre that not only uses Catholic belief to frame the issues of modernity, but also offers Catholicism’s vision and doctrine as a remedy to the present crisis in Western civilization. Greene’s later work, by contrast, is generally regarded as falling into political and detective genres. Mark Bosco argues that this is a false dichotomy created by a narrowly prescriptive understanding of the Catholic genre and that it obscures the impact of Greene’s developing religious imagination in his literary art. Bosco frames his investigation of Greene’s life and work in terms of theological developments in Catholic discourse before and after the second Vatican Council. He begins by looking at Greene’s creative appropriation of the historically fixed notions of the Catholic literary revival in the early part of the twentieth century, as illustrated by his novels The Power and the Glory and The End of the Affair. He follows with a discussion of the Council and the changes it ushered in. He shows that these developments continued to engage Greene, who was deeply influenced by the works of the liberal theologians Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Hans Kung, and Edward Schillebeeckx. Greene became a strong supporter of liberation theology in Latin America and Bosco shows how this and other post-Vatican II discourses are embodied in The Honorary Consul and The Human Factor. He goes on to argue that two of Greene’s final works, Dr. Fischer of Geneva or the Bomb Party and Monsignor Quixote can be read as culminating expressions of Greene’s Catholic imagination.

Additional Information

  • Hardback
  • 216 Pages
  • Published: February 2005
  • ISBN: 0195177150
  • Series: Academy

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