Brighton Rock

Brighton Rock

Book - 2004
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"WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY J.M. COETZEE A gang war is raging through the dark underworld of Brighton. Seventeen-year-old Pinkie, malign and ruthless, has killed a man. Believing he can escape retribution, he is unprepared for the courageous, life-embracing Ida Arnold. Greene's gripping thriller, exposes a world of loneliness and fear, of life lived on the 'dangerous edge of things'."
Publisher: London : Vintage, 2004, c1938
ISBN: 9780099478478
Branch Call Number: F GRE
Characteristics: xiii, 269 p. ;,20 cm


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May 21, 2018

Entering into the universe of Brighton Rock is to enter a Manichean world of Good and Evil, in which the negative is portrayed as the active, self-affirming, heroic element. When confronted by Ida about her own knowledge of “”right and wrong”, Rose reflects that, “the two words meant nothing to her. Their taste was extinguished by stronger foods -- Good and Evil” (199). The novel’s anti-hero, 17 year old gangster Pinkie, seeks to exterminate all tenderness, pleasure and tolerance in his single-mindedly quest for an “annihilating eternity from which he had come and to which he went” (21). One of the novel’s comic characters, the crooked solicitor, Mr Prewitt, quotes Mephistopholes to Faustus, when he was asked where Hell is located, “He said, ‘why this is Hell, nor are we out of it’” (210).

This dark philosophical novel contains many of the formulas and themes of the noir novel: gang rivalry, gambling syndicates, betrayal, violent murder. It includes acute social commentary concerned with poverty, leisure diversions and manipulations of working people by corporations, machine culture and its effect on popular culture.

That Greene manages the difficult feat of making a metaphysical love affair between these two teens both deeply impacted by their childhoods raised both in poverty and within the Catholic Church visceral and moving for the reader is wonderful.

Brighton Rock manages to balance the philosophy, the action, the social criticism and the love story in such a taut combination that it keeps the reader as tightly wound as the novel’s action. It may be Greene’s greatest novel, a dark pulp gem.

Oct 06, 2017

I'm still coming to terms with the ending, or last lines of this grim and gritty story. The story is set against the backdrop of Brighton in the early 1930's. The leader of a small and motley razor gang, led by the hard as nails Pinkie Brown is looking to expand his criminal empire.
It's the character of Pinkie who grabs you and doesn't let go. This was never going to be a pretty story, the characters are too tired and the struggle to survive is too hard. In some ways there couldn't be any doubt as to their path, journey in life.
There is a lot more depth and differing levels of shading to make this more than just a psychological thriller. Rich in characterization and atmosphere, the theme of "good versus evil", more than worth a look at.

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