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Brighton Rock

Brighton Rock, The Power and the Glory, The Heart of the Matter

a novel by Graham Greene, published in 1938. Set among Brighton racecourse razor gangs, it is in part a detective story, showing the murder of Hale by the 17-year-old Pinkie and his gang; Pinkie's courtship of Rose, whom he marries to prevent her giving evidence against him; and his pursuit by Ida Arnold, strangely determined, after a brief meeting with Hale, to give up her life of pleasure until she convicts his killers. Brighton Rock shares in this way the seedy urban background of Greene's 1930s ‘entertainments’, and their interest in shady or actually criminal activities, but it is also the first of his novels to reveal the Catholic faith to which he was converted in 1926. As Greene remarks, this new direction first appears in the course of the novel itself: after the first fifty pages, the detective story partly gives way to explicit investigation of religion and morality—to contrasts of Ida's complacent conviction of the nature of right and wrong with Rose and Pinkie's more profound awareness of good and evil. They are shown, as Catholics, to inhabit a moral universe larger and more mysterious than anything available to Ida's kind; one in which even Pinkie's dedication to evil, even his eventual suicide, may not place him beyond ‘the appalling strangeness of the mercy of God’. Religious questions of this kind are more fully integrated into Greene's later writing, shaping the successful phase which follows from Brighton Rock and includes The Power and the Glory (1940), The Heart of the Matter (1948), and The End of the Affair (1951).

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Bridgnorth Shropshire to Anthony Burgess [John Anthony Burgess Wilson Burgess] Biography