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Brighton Rock (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) Paperback – Deckle Edge, September 28, 2004

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Editorial Reviews


“Here the probing is carried further in a brilliant and uncompromising indictment of some of the worst aspects of modern civilization, showing us the hard-boiled criminal mind not as a return to savagery but as a horrible perversion of cerebration.”The New York Times

Why does this bleak, seething and anarchic novel still resonate? Its energy and power is that of the rebellious adolescent, foreshadowing the rise of the cult of youth in the latter part of the 20th century.”The Guardian

“[Greene] believed his coldness vital for his art - 'There is,' he affirmed, 'a splinter of ice in the heart of a writer'.”—John Carey

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Introduction by John Carey

From the Hardcover edition. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (September 28, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142437972
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142437971
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #87,765 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

93 of 98 people found the following review helpful By mp on January 2, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have said it before, and shall say it again - Graham Greene was incapable of writing a bad novel! "Brighton Rock" is yet another miraculous triumph of setting, plot, characterization, thematic unity and everything that makes novels worth reading. In addition, Greene's use of Catholicism and common-sense ethics as coexistent ideologies behind the story, guiding the main characters, gives the novel considerable philosophical weight. One great thing about "Brighton Rock" is that the characters' internal struggles are not simply reducible to good v. evil or right v. wrong, but are asked to distinguish between these two systems.
"Brighton Rock" has two protagonists - Pinkie Brown is a teenage gangster, trying to prove his manhood and establish himself as a serious force in the Brighton underworld. Ida Arnold is a healthy, flirtatious, and determined woman who cannot be dissuaded from any purpose. When corrupt newspaperman Charles Hale is killed by Pinkie's gang, Ida's momentary acquaintance with Hale on a Bank Holiday leads her to pursue the truth surrounding his death. The conflict between Pinkie, who falls into a Calvinist-Catholic defeatism, and Ida, who believes in right and Hammurabian justice(an eye for an eye) shapes the rest of the novel.
Human sexuality and relationships are important facets of "Brighton Rock." Pinkie and Rose, two young Catholics raised in a run-down, predominantly 'Roman' housing project - constantly struggle with maturity, responsibility, and human physicality. While they view sex as 'mortal sin,' Ida, their pursuer, sees it as 'natural,' and celebratory of life. The complex relationship between Pinkie and the equally young and innocent Rose adds further purpose to Ida's mission.
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Linda Linguvic HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on August 16, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I enjoy Graham Greene's books and bought some used copies from a street vendor a while ago. I took this one with me to read one day because it was the smallest and shortest one of the bunch. I sure was surprised when I quickly discovered that, although it was only 247 pages long, it certainly did pack a wallop. I think it is my favorite so far and I've read quite a few of this author's books.

Written way back in 1938, it is set in a world that probably exists only in the memories of the Brits who visited Brighton during that year. For those of you not familiar with the place, Brighton is a seaside resort frequented by working class people. There are hotels and restaurants, a racetrack and all kinds of Boardwalk amusements. It is also run by a mob which rivals any in greed and violence. As usual with Graham Greene, there is a theme of good and evil. The boy named Pinkie is bad; the girl he romances named Rose is good. Both are Catholics and the Catholic belief system looms large in this story, adding depth to the excellent characterizations.

The writing is excellent, the descriptions clear and concise. It didn't even take me long to pick up the British slang which included words I had never heard before. There are several murders in this book. And some unforgettable characters. I'll never forget big bosomed good-natured Ida who sets off to solve the murders and save poor Rose's life. There are also some great mob characters.

The title of the book has several meanings. It's not only about the place itself. There's a kind of rock candy sold there that is referred to as Brighton Rock. And one of the themes is that it tastes the same all the way through no matter how far down you eat it.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 18, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Brighton Rock is the first Graham Greene book I read, and after buying all his books, this is still my favourite. I'm English by birth, and know Brighton well, and I am ever impressed by the evocation of a place exactly as I remember it. I find Pinky a truly disturbing character, and his Rose one of the most sad yet courageous heroines in modern literature. Mr. Greene is so good at drawing "small part" characters, and recreates so well the world of the petty criminal, and the unpleasant, hopeless characters who inhabit it. I have always felt Graham Greene to be the master of the written English language - his books contain neither one word more, nor one word less than they need to. Definitely my favourite author, and this my favourite of his considerable body of work.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By JR Pinto on January 27, 2006
Format: Paperback
I did not read the introduction to this book (by J.M. Coetzee) until after I had finished it. I am glad I did not: Coetzee gives away many plot details, and these spoilers may ruin your reading experience. However, there was much that I found confusing in the novel, and there were a few things that would have made me enjoy it more, had I known. First, and most important, this novel is a sequel to an earlier novel by Greene, entitled A Gun for Sale (unread by me). Also, the name of the book derives from a candy sold in Brighton - the equivalent of our salt-water taffy.

The earlier novel describes the first part of the gang war, in which Fred Hale, "a reporter, has been used by [the Colleoni gang] as an informer." That is the springboard for the action of this novel, in which Battling Kite's gang is now headed by Pinkie. Pinkie is a 17-year-old monster, who is moved by nothing except hatred. It is interesting to see Greene's view of Good and Evil through Pinkie. Greene himself was a practicing Catholic, and yet he was no saint. His literary heroes are usually at war with their own innate, human lusts. To be Good, in the Graham Greene universe, does not mean being immune to these lusts, but persevering despite them. What makes Pinkie so Evil is that he has no lusts. Women and Drink do not interest him - he is completely unnatural. He believes in Heaven, but is completely uninterested in going there.

Brighton Rock is a meditation on Good and Evil, and also Love. Eventually, a young woman falls in love with Pinkie. I do not want to ruin anything by telling how that relationship plays out. This is a gritty voyage through a depressed and ravaged England of the 1930's, filled with low-lifes and murders. In other words, it's a good read.
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