The Power and the Glory (First Edition) by Graham Greene



2015-06-26 10:26:41

The Power and the Glory is a novel by Graham Greene (1904-1991). The first edition of this work was published in 1940 by William Heinemann, London. Background

The novel was written during Greene’s escape to Mexico when 20th century Fox tried to imprison him for libel. He had published in Night and Day magazine a review of the Shirley Temple film Wee Willie Winkie. This review, scathing about how coquettish and sexualised they had made the little girl, is thought to be one of the first public criticisms of the sexualisation of children.

20th Century Fox sued Night and Day magazine, and Greene fled to Mexico. Here he found the inspiration for and wrote The Power and the Glory.

The novel is set in 1930s Tabasco, Mexico, during an era of suppression of Catholicism by the Mexican Government. During this time, the anti-clerical governor Tomas Garrido Canabal was directing paramilitary groups to close churches and force priests to marry.

The novel was considered controversial by the Catholic Church.

Plot, Characters, Themes

The protagonist is a morally weak and self destructive priest, with much in his hidden past to haunt him. Paradoxically, he is extremely repentant of his sins, and desperately desires to possess moral dignity.

His adversary is a socialist, anti-religious lieutenant policeman sent to hunt him down as part of the paramilitary action against the Catholic Church.

The priest meets a girl that he had fathered and resolves to save her from damnation.

While the priest is extremely morally unquestionable, the lieutenant is morally faultless, yet somewhat inhumane. He believes that the clergy are all evil and the church corrupt. In the end, the lieutenant executes the priest, and believes he has rid the area of Catholicism. Yet another priest arrives just at the end.


Greene was an English author, playwright and critic. He was noted for his examinations of Catholicism and morality.

Notable auction sales and collecting tips

First editions are much more valuable in their original dust jackets. A signature or inscription from Greene will also see its value rise hugely.

First edition copies (1940, William Heinemann, London) were sold by Sothebys for £6,000 in June 2007, and £6,600 in July 2006.

Christie’s sold first edition copies for £6,345 in November 2000, $8,813 in April 2001, $12,000 in December 2006, and a presentation copy for $21,150 in April 2001.

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