Thursday, September 07, 2006

Friday Review . . . Monsignor Quixote

I discovered Graham Greene during my last year of high school, which also happened to be my first year in college. I had an English class at both schools, and each of them required a term paper. I compared the two sets of requirements and came up with one author who would do for both classes -- Graham Greene. I wrote my paper on The Heart of the Matter, but I have been a fan ever since; and Monsignor Quixote is my favorite.

Do not misunderstand me. The Monsignor will never be known as Greene's finest but it is only upon first reading that the book is as simple and trite as its characters appear to be.

Monsignor Quixote is an impossibly honest and simple parish priest in 20th Century Spain who believes himself to be a descendant of the legendary Don Quixote. He is made a Monsignor -- almost by accident, and over the objections of his own Bishop. The Monsignor and his good friend, the town's former Mayor and a devout Communist, set off together on vacation. Along the way they tilt at windmills, free a galley slave and spend the night in a brothel -- all quite by accident. Along the way they discuss faith, belief, politics and apply both moral theology and the writings of St. Francis de Sales to the fate of an aging car named, what else, Rocinante.

This is not a book to read if your fiction must make good, clear, rational sense. The book's condemnation of propriety over compassion and legalism versus love is too obvious for readers who must take their fiction at face value, but Greene is a master who understands the value inherent in the suspension of disbelief.



Brett said...

Thanks for the book suggestion--it sounds wonderful!

Stushie said...

This was made into a great TV movie by the BBC in Britain, starring Sir Alec Guinness (the real Obi wan Kenobi)as the priest, and Leo McKern (Rumpole of the bailey)as the mayor. The final scene of Sir Alec silently administering communion at the altar is very powerful, deeply moving and even sacred.

JusticeSeeker said...

Thanks Stushie, I am going to have to find that movie.