Black Robe

Black Robe

3.3 11
by Brian Moore

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His name is Father Laforgue, a young Jesuit missionary come from Europe to the New World to bring the word of God to the heathen. He is given minimal aid by the governor of the vast territory that is proudly named New France but is in reality still ruled by the Huron, Iroquois, and Algonkin tribes who have roamed it since the dawn of time and whom the French call

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His name is Father Laforgue, a young Jesuit missionary come from Europe to the New World to bring the word of God to the heathen. He is given minimal aid by the governor of the vast territory that is proudly named New France but is in reality still ruled by the Huron, Iroquois, and Algonkin tribes who have roamed it since the dawn of time and whom the French call Savages. His mission is to reach and bring salvation to an isolatied Huron tribe decimated by disease in the far north before incoming winter closes off his path to them. His guides are a group of Savages who mock his faith and their pledges even as they accept muskets as their payment.

Father Laforgue is about to enter a world of pagan power and sexual license, awesome courage and terrible cruelty, that will test him to the breaking point as both a man and a priest, and alter him in ways he cannot dream.

In weaving a tautly suspenseful tale of physical and spiritual adventure in a wilderness frontier on the cusp of change, Brian Moore has written a novel that rivals Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness in its exploration of the confrontation between Western ideology and native peoples, and its meditation upon Good and Evil in the human heart.

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Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
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Product dimensions:
5.38(w) x 8.06(h) x 0.65(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Brian Moore is the author of nineteen novels, including The Statement, No Other Life, Lies Of Silence and The Lonely Passion Of Judith Hearne. Mr. Moore was short-listed three times for Britain's Booker Prize. He passed away in 1999.

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Black Robe 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
PeggyC49 More than 1 year ago
One lady in our book club laughingly called it "Catholic porn." The sex, violence, and foul language set the scene for a plot that could have been powerful. Instead, we were offered sex, violence, and foul language, and little else. Black Robe was one of those books that that leaves you with a feeling that you basicly just wasted your time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I actually read this novel some years ago, while doing historical research on the Jesuits and the Hurons in Canada. I try to be parsimonious with my superlatives, but this book was one of the worst novels I've ever read (and I've skimmed some truly awful stuff). The psychological 'insights' were shallow, the historical elements were competently researched but no more than that, and, although I'm no prude when it comes to taboo subject matter or foul language, I thought the author's use of them was too lowbrow and had no redeeming qualities. I skim-read the last third of the book just to get it over with and, unless I hear that the author's writing technique improved dramatically since this novel appeared, or that 'Black Robe' was an unfortunate fluke, I can't imagine ever touching one of his novels again.
jgertzman More than 1 year ago
Black Robe is a brilliant contrast between kinds of spirituality. The point of view is Father Paul Laforgue’s. Twice he faces the most horrible torture imaginable. Father Paul’s mission is to bring “Savages” to the possibility of immortality in heaven, far beyond the life of the senses, with its flashes of joy and misery. When he sees an Algonquin die before being baptized, he weeps, not b/c it is a woman murdered before her family, which is in the hands of cannibals—but b/c she has not been baptized. Since Fr. Paul is a Christian, he accepts the extreme discomforts of cold and snow, half cooked food, back breaking rowing, fever, harassment by a witchdoctor, and the terror of abandonment (before leaving, he must hear his mother say that she has always wanted to prove her love of God by giving a son to him.) His worst trial is looking at the nightly love-making and feeling sexual arousal—that is a worse aloneness than being put ashore in the wilds alone. It reveals Paul is a human male, which, since it involves sensuality, is unacceptable to him. Bur he is no saint. Moore never lets us forget his ”all too human” revulsion, despair, and abject relief at being rescued from a forest maze into which he has wandered. He will spend the rest of his life helping, as he sees it, the Huron people escape a plague and find God. “Do you love us?” “Yes.” The End. The French colonization of northern Canada is only softly suggested, so Moore can show—I have not read this before—that although the institution of religion is one with the colonialization process of destroying native culture, and although Fr. Paul is a part of the process-- Fr Paul’s personal story is distinct from it. He senses that God knows who is strong enough to be a martyr, and who is fit to be a kind of prophet and healer. He is holy. The tribes have their own spirituality. (It didn’t survive the Blackrobes of course—because of the French behind them. There is at least one reference to “Champlain,” a man not to be fought with, even by the fierce tribal warriors). The Algonquins, Hurons, and Iroquois look into the forest. There, the She-Manitou (the creature in which their spiritual life is centered, and who leads the dead into the darkness) dwells. And the prophecies the members of the tribe receive (there are three in the novel) are never wrong. They also put the implications of a dream before all other business (at one point rowing 8 days to reach a shaman). There is no life but the sensual mortal one. That is why they engage in what Fr Paul believes are devil-inspired acts of ecstasy, whether from sex or from watching tortured enemies “scream like rabbits.” Primitive—what about the burning at the stake during the Inquisition, or the slaughter of all men, women and children after battle in Jericho(in order to cleanse the captured city)? The orders to perform these brutalities came directly from God, right? When Joshua lost the battle he fought after Jericho, it was b/c he did not follow God’s will. A monotheistic God is so different from a Manitou. What do you think the purpose of Moore's novel is? It's a story, a myth, a creative act. It's "meaning" cannot be reached through appeal to reason or your own spiritual tradition. Well, Fr Paul, no saint, constantly questions whether he knows God as he should. He perseveres. “Do you love us?” He is a towering figure.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Well written, however, vulgar and lacking a satisfying conclusion.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had to read this book for a world history class I am taking at S.V.S.U. Having no preveous knowledge on the subject I went at this assinment sort of blind. I have always loved to read, and this book was well written. For me it not only made this assinment insightful, enjoyable, and worthwhile, but also it sparked an interest in Brian Moores work. I am eagerly lookforward to getting my hands an another one of his books. Definatly an enjoyable read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Blackrobe is a complex novel on one level in that it looks faith and God through familiar and foreign eyes. But in the end, the subject is the same for all. We all face spiritual and moral crises and it is how we deal with these crises that form who we are.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i have to throw off the average costumer review rating of three stars that was given to this book. this book completely threw me off gaurd. this is how the indians truly lived. This book is hands down, without a doubt, the gutsiest book i ever read. black robe pulls no punches. This book isn't for the politically correct, or the faint of heart. The plot and dialogue are commanding, unique, and unfortunately for some readers, realistic. It will make you view the world in a way that you probably never viewed it before. This is what a great novel should do; unfortunately many novels a pure dribble. This book is truly a profound and mind-altering parable. Highly recommended
Guest More than 1 year ago
I hate to break it to you William G, but the image Moore paints is extremely realistic. The sexual and vulgar acts he portrayed in the novel were a common part in the Indian culture in the area; yes, the Iroquois were cannibals. Robert Ebert reviewed the movie based on the book saying, 'It is a torturous experience, and 'Black Robe' visualizes it in one of the most realistic depictions of Indian life I have seen.' I did find Moore's style a little lacking at times, but overall, the challenge against LaForgue's faith from many different people was what kept me interested. This book could best be characterized as a journey of faith that combines realistic portrayals of the Canadian indian culture and conflicting catholic beliefs that in the end challenges LaForgue's own beliefs and his view on the establishment of Catholic rituals and traditions.
Guest More than 1 year ago
There are few books I literally regret the time I invested in reading, but this is one of them. 'Black Robe' tries to paint a realistic, 'hard-boiled' account of what life was like for the Indians and missionaries but goes way overboard in grossing out the reader, to the point where it is no longer artistic. The author's handling of dialogue and reflection is worse than the passages between Maria and Robert Jordan in Hemingway's 'For Whom the Bell Tolls.' His research is adequate, but he fits the historical facts into the narrative in a paint-by-numbers manner and it contributes little to the overall artistic effect. The book at least has a competent command of plot and the author knows how to put sentences in order properly, so it isn't a complete wash-out, but it comes pretty close.
LarryMoniz More than 1 year ago
The plot line as acceptable as far as I went in the book--about 30 pages. I found the fixation by the author of having everyone from the Jesuits on up to Champlain constantly referring to the Wendat (Hurons) and other tribes, Mohawk, Seneca, Iroquois, and all the others as "Savages," capitalized in each instance, as racist. Even to me as a non-Indian author, I found the book to be incredibly biased and bigoted against the true first inhabitants of North America. I obtained a paperback version of the book in good condition, but with pages misplaced from proper order. Because of the repeatedly demeaning characterization of all the tribes, I find the book to be an insult to the various tribes of the Northeastern parts of Canada and the United States. Ironically, the book was recommended to me on the Internet by a man from Pennsylvania who claims to be descended from the Mohawks, one of the "Savage" uncultured peoples in the book. So much for believing the opinion of a supposed member of the Five Nations.