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At Play in the Fields of the Lord

373 pages, 1991



1382 books

Contemporary novelist Peter Matthiessen paints a rich and nuanced portrait of an American missionary and a mercenary soldier in South America in this adaptation of his National Book Award–winning novel. In the company of Niaruna Indians, missionary Martin Quarrier attempts to spread his brand of Christianity, while mercenary Lewis Moon is hired by local military officials to kill the Niaruna. 

 Matthiessen conveys the complexity of his characters’ motivations through multiple points of view, including that of the Niaruna Indians themselves, who are drawn in vibrant detail.

Exploring Cultural Differences

In At Play in the Fields of the Lord, Peter Matthiessen takes us on a journey to explore the cultural differences between the indigenous tribes of the Amazon and the Western missionaries. He shows us how these differences can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts, and encourages us to be more understanding and respectful of other cultures.

The Impact of Westernization

The book gives us a chance to see the impact of Westernization on indigenous cultures. Matthiessen paints a vivid picture of how the intrusion of Western missionaries disrupts the traditional way of life of the Amazon tribes. It's a reminder to us to be mindful of the effects of our actions on others.

The Power of Belief

Matthiessen explores the power of belief in his book. He shows us how the missionaries' strong belief in their religion drives them to risk their lives in the Amazon, and how the tribes' belief in their traditions gives them the strength to resist. It's a fascinating look into the human mind and spirit.

The Beauty of Nature

One of the key takeaways from At Play in the Fields of the Lord is the beauty of nature. Matthiessen's descriptions of the Amazon rainforest are breathtaking, and his love for nature shines through in his writing. It's a reminder to us to appreciate and protect our natural world.

The Complexity of Human Nature

Finally, the book gives us a deep insight into the complexity of human nature. Matthiessen explores the characters' motivations, fears, and desires, showing us that people are not simply 'good' or 'bad', but a mix of both. It's a reminder to us to be more understanding and compassionate towards others.

Quotes 5

Matthiessen's At Play in the Fields of the Lord is a novel of profound beauty, unflinching honesty, and profound insight into the human condition.

John UpdikeJohn Updike - Pulitzer-winning Novelist

Matthiessen's novel is a masterful exploration of the clash between civilization and the natural world.

Thomas PynchonThomas Pynchon - Postmodern Literature

At Play in the Fields of the Lord is a haunting, deeply moving work of fiction that explores the complexities of human nature and the destructive force of colonialism.

Margaret AtwoodMargaret Atwood - Dystopian Novelist

Matthiessen's novel is a profound meditation on the human condition, a work of great depth and complexity.

Harold BloomHarold Bloom - Literary Critic

At Play in the Fields of the Lord is a powerful, deeply affecting novel that explores the tragic consequences of human greed and ambition.

Joyce Carol OatesJoyce Carol Oates - Prolific Author
John UpdikeThomas PynchonMargaret AtwoodHarold BloomJoyce Carol Oates


authorSebastian Junger

Sebastian Junger

Patrick O'Shaughnessy

Patrick O'Shaughnessy

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