Black Robe

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This article is about the 1985 Brian Moore novel. For the film, see Black Robe (film). For other uses, see Black robe.
Black Robe
First UK edition
Author Brian Moore
Country Canada
Language English
Genre Historical novel
Publisher McClelland and Stewart (Canada)
Dutton (USA)
Jonathan Cape (UK)
Publication date
Pages 246 pp (first Canadian, US and UK editions)
ISBN 0-7710-6449-7 (first Canadian edition)
ISBN 0-525-24311-9 (first US edition)
ISBN 0224023292 (first UK edition)
OCLC 16036820
Preceded by Cold Heaven
Followed by The Colour of Blood

Black Robe, first published in 1985, is a historical novel by Brian Moore set in New France in the 17th century.

The novel follows Father Laforgue, a French Jesuit priest traveling up river to repopulate the mission to the Huron Indians. (The First Nations peoples called the priests "Black Robes".) It chronicles his interactions with the "heathen" tribes of Algonkian (friendly) and Iroquois (unfriendly), as well as his inner struggles of faith, as he travels upriver to bring salvation to the Hurons. As he is traveling with the Huron Indians, he realizes how difficult it will be to change their minds about their current faith.

At First the Huron Indians create an agreement with the French people to allow "Black Robe" and his assistant Daniel to travel with them for a few weeks. As "Black Robe" and Daniel are trying to bring salvation to the Hurons they get labeled as demons and are outcast from the group.

Moore juxtaposes the "superstitious" religious beliefs of the Native people with the Christian religious beliefs of Father Laforgue, which the reader can see very nearly mirror each other.

The book was adapted into the 1991 film of the same title directed by Bruce Beresford, for which Moore wrote the screenplay.


Writing in The New York Times, novelist James Carroll described Black Robe as "an extraordinary novel... in which Brian Moore has brought vividly to life a radically different world and populated it with men and women wholly unlike us. His novel's achievement, however, is that, through the course of its shocking narrative... we recognize its fierce, awful world as the one we live in. We put Mr. Moore's novel down and look at ourselves and our places differently".[1]

Anstiss Drake in the Chicago Tribune praises the novel's "economy of style, vivid characterizations, spellbinding story and a master's touch... He accomplishes a portrait of native tribespeople that is acute and unsentimental. In Laforgue, Moore gives us a type seldom seen nowadays; he has saintly purity and heroism. Laforgue suffers in both mind and spirit on his quest; for his God he walks into a wilderness from which he will never return".[2]



  • Hicks, Patrick. "The Language of the Tribes in Brian Moore's 'Black Robe'" in Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review, Vol. 93, No. 372 (Winter, 2004), pp. 415–426. Irish Province of the Society of Jesus
  • Schumacher, Antje. Brian Moore's Black Robe: Novel, Screenplay(s) and Film (European University Studies. Series 14: Anglo-Saxon Language and Literature. Vol. 494), Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang. Language: English ISBN 978-3-631-60321-5, 2010


  1. ^ Carroll, James (31 March 1985). "The ordeal of Father Laforgue". New York Times. Retrieved 24 May 2014. 
  2. ^ Drake, Anstiss (19 May 1985). "Brian Moore A Front-runner With Unforgettable Frontier Tale". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 25 May 2014. 

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