24 setembro 2004

Sinner Take All

From the 1930s until long into the cold-war era, Graham Greene mapped a unique landscape of pain, human frailty, political drama, and moral bewilderment. His tortured sinners, doubting Catholics, furtive adulterers, cynical expatriates, burnt-out cases, and violent criminals constitute one of the most memorable, if disturbing, fictional worlds in modern literature. In Greeneland, the moral weather is perpetually gray. Fidelity and loyalty are impossible ideals; someone is forever betraying a lover, a friend, a creed, an ideology, a God, a country. Salvation is fleeting, while damnation is a permanent temptation, rarely resisted, if not actively courted. "I am damned already—I may as well go the whole length of my chain," Scobie, the colonial policeman in The Heart of the Matter (1948), concludes hopelessly before he kills himself after he has cheated on his wife and conspired to commit murder. He could be speaking on behalf of half a dozen of Greene's characters. "Sins have so much beauty," says the whiskey priest in The Power and the Glory (1940), luxuriating in his fallen state.

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