Graham Greene is known in recent years as the “old master” as a writer. He had already accumulated tremendous achievements which led him in having an expertise in writing. Because of the freedom that he exudes in writing, his subject matter, intensity and tone of writing style is quite extended significantly. Greene’s works were usually focused in pity, doom and the impenetrability of God’s will. In his work entitled “The Human Factor” (1978), he talks about the protagonist victim trapped in a twist of betrayal and spying.
In his another book entitled “Dr. Fisher of Geneva, or The Bomb party” (1980), tells about he chilling story of a wealthy man who plays God sadistically with his poor assistants who tried to entertain him and humiliate and hurt them in return. However, another masterpiece from the old master, the gentlest among Greene’s works, has introduced a worthwhile read entitled “Monsignor Quixote”.
“Monsignor Quixote” is an offshoot of Cervantes’s work (Greene, 1990). In this version, the readers are opened to the idea of Catholic faith and Communist sympathy conflict. The setting is in Spain in the late 1960’s were the end of the Second Vatican Council and of the end of the Latin Mass happened. This novel tells the story of a humble and kind priest who believes that himself that he was a descendant of Don Quixote, the famous Knight of the Sorrowful Countenance.
After such belligerent, he was promoted as Monsignor and later forces Father Quixote from his parish in El Toboso wherein such promotion had been made by a powerful Italian bishop whom Quixote helped in fixing his car and providing him with a sumptuous lunch. Outrage of a local bishop in El Toboso arises and requested him of leave of absence to go to Madrid and buy purple socks and bib as the new Monsignor. Father Quixote’s cavalry will soon emerge.
This book teaches valuable reflections about authority, hope and despair, love and selfishness (Greene, 1990). However, the rejection of dogmatic authority in the church and state is the focused of the book. Greene emphasizes the value of the spirit and not in the letter (system). Greene was said to be intertwined between two systems which requires utmost obedience and submission to the adherents. He delves onto the human weaknesses rather than uprightness. Doubt is seen as a paradox, which it is in human nature to doubt for humans are intrinsic and can control their instincts. Decisions made from incomplete information arises the matter of doubt.
Greene’s inclusion of the Catholic faith as a background is hope in the most extreme situations. Monsignor Quixote and Sancho Plaza had congruent hopes on such event, thus, Monsignor hopes for Sancho, being a Communist to convert into being a Catholic while Sancho hopes for Monsignor to be a Marxist. And these hopes did not end triumphantly which lead to despair. In the book, their hopes arise through the books they read: Sancho’s preference in Marx’s works and Monsignor’s in religious books. Sancho is a materialist while Monsignor is selfless and do care for the world’s salvation.
Considerably, the greatest virtue amongst all is Love. Greene knew that there is hope because there is love in it. In this regard, Sancho was faced in a conflict if he will rescue his friend from El Toboso or seek refuge form his fellow Communists. But because of love and loyalty, Sancho did not cross the frontier and instead went to El Toboso to save his friend. His loyalty and love for his friend is more important than his safety. In Greene’s works, usually there are borders which are not meant to be crossed.
Love is eternal. Sancho’s reflections on the nature of love, that hate is finished through revenge, still love persists after death. Monsignor realized that Sancho would not abandon him, because he saw in him love and unselfishness (Greene, 1990) .
“Monsignor Quixote” is an inspirational read, a book which greatly exemplified the humble characteristics of its author, Graham Greene.
Greene, G. (1990). Monsignor Quixote (Reissue ed.): Pocket.
Towers, Robert. (1982, September 19). An Amiable Graham Greene. The New York Times on the Web. Retrieved July 13 2007, from http://www.nytimes.com/books/00/02/20/specials/greene-quixote.html
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