A novel that we read in junior high in grade nine English, to be exact , Alan Paton s Cry, the Beloved Country was likely the first school assigned literary classics offering that I truly and with all my heart and soul unreservedly enjoyed reading And while Cry, the Beloved Country was not exactly an easy reading experience, it was immensely satisfying, intense, emotionally riveting, and personally very much appreciated, as my parents were absolutely horrified and aghast that our English teacher would dare have us read a novel they themselves considered politically problematic as both of them were I guess afraid of me somehow turning into a raging Socialist or Communist, as I had always had a very developed sense of justice versus injustice, and was therefore often, but especially upon reading Cry, the Beloved Country vehemently and loudly pontificating that Apartheid was one of the most unjust and evil political and economic systems ever and needed to be changed, pronto Highly recommended is Cry, the Beloved Country and yes, most definitely also suitable for teenagers, although the issues encountered should, no they must, be discussed and debated and not to forget Alan Paton s exquisite writing style, as we often seem to focus only on the contents and themes of novels, whilst ignoring or at least skimming over questions of stylistics, parallelisms, irony, in other words, the structures in and through which the contents and themes of novels, of any writing, are presented to and featured for potential readers. I am a teacher and, after 34 years, attempt to find new combinations in the catalogue of must reads I have done this as a staple for years Last year, when deciding what I wanted to do kind of like window shopping for lovely clothes I decided to read this book after reading Hamlet I love the mirrored plot structure I adore the fact that the land is a character The moral imperative and subsequent hemming and hawing in Hamlet takes on a different light and life in the beautifully wrought quest into the valley of death by Stephen Kumalo The gentle prod of grace, of questions, of moral hues and tones take me back to the wasteland scene in Hamlet After speaking with the captain on his way to death against the Polish, Hamlet finally has his epiphany For Stephen, the wasteland shifts, but the same 20,000 on their way to death in a mine is the same moral imperative My students are slowly putting the plots together and the depth that they are mining pun intended is impressive I am quite pleased They had trouble with the flow of dialogue at first, but they also had trouble starting in medias res in Hamlet So goes the way with 15 and 16 year old students We are going to next move to Eliot s wasteland for a quick jaunt through 20th century gardens and graves Paton is a treasure put on his shoes, or discover the link with the land through the unshod feet and understand how two men and their families, their villages can wrestle with ethical dilemmas and the imperative of humanity Powerful when put together of particular delight one of my students noticed two items the use of Gertrude in both and also the idea of kairos I was so happy This is what makes books come alive When we share, we grow. Cry, The Beloved Country, The Most Famous And Important Novel In South Africa S History, Was An Immediate Worldwide Bestseller In Alan Paton S Impassioned Novel About A Black Man S Country Under White Man S Law Is A Work Of Searing Beauty Cry, The Beloved Country, For The Unborn Child That Is The Inheritor Of Our Fear Let Him Not Love The Earth Too Deeply Let Him Not Laugh Too Gladly When The Water Runs Through His Fingers, Nor Stand Too Silent When The Setting Sun Makes Red The Veld With Fire Let Him Not Be Too Moved When The Birds Of His Land Are Singing, Nor Give Too Much Of His Heart To A Mountain Or Valley For Fear Will Rob Him Of All If He Gives Too Much The Eminent Literary Critic Lewis Gannett Wrote, We Have Had Many Novels From Statesmen And Reformers, Almost All Bad Many Novels From Poets, Almost All Thin In Alan Paton S Cry, The Beloved Country The Statesman, The Poet And The Novelist Meet In A Unique Harmony Cry, The Beloved Country Is The Deeply Moving Story Of The Zulu Pastor Stephen Kumalo And His Son, Absalom, Set Against The Background Of A Land And A People Riven By Racial Injustice Remarkable For Its Lyricism, Unforgettable For Character And Incident, Cry, The Beloved Country Is A Classic Work Of Love And Hope, Courage And Endurance, Born Of The Dignity Of Man This is the story of South Africa, and it is the story of two fathers and two sons There is a moment in which the fathers meet face to face that contains everything there is of humanity and the struggle for understanding and compassion in men That moment left me eviscerated I love that this is not written in the spirit of good vs evil, but in the spirit of man vs his baser instincts I sincerely loved Stephen Kumalo and Mr Jarvis, and I felt both their heartaches Some books are meant to be written, they well up from inside an author and spill onto the page because their message is one that must be voiced, and this is such a book The history of South Africa is sad and, like all colonializations, it is complicated There is a way of life destroyed and no attempt to offer a replacement that is viable for the native population It suited the white man to break the tribe, he continued gravely But it has not suited him to build something in the place of what is broken.In the midst of this chaos and struggle, Paton finds the wisdoms that make humans reflections of God Msimangu says But there is only one thing that has power completely, and that is love Because when a man loves, he seeks no power, and therefore he has power. The I contemplated that statement, the profound it seemed to me.Much of what afflicts the people of South Africa at the time of this book s publication has been remedied, but its message is so strong and so important and so universal that it can easily be applied to much of what we continue to see in the world today And, at a personal level, there are the feelings of the men involved that are so true to feelings each of us have or may have This was almost the last thing that his son had done When this was done he had been alive Then at this moment, at this very word that hung in the air, he had got up and gone down the stairs to his death If one could have cried then, don t go down If one could have cried, stop, there is danger But there was no one to cry No one knew then what so many knew now.Are these not the thoughts that run through our minds at the moment of loss Why didn t I do this or that Why wasn t I watching closer Why didn t I speak up, hold on, stop fate by altering the time frame by one precious second I understand that this novel is now included in many high school curricula, and I applaud that Everyone should read it. Cry, The Beloved Country, Alan PatonCry, the Beloved Country is a novel by Alan Paton, published in 1948 In the remote village of Ndotsheni, in the Natal province of eastern South Africa, the Reverend Stephen Kumalo receives a letter from a fellow minister summoning him to Johannesburg He is needed there, the letter says, to help his sister, Gertrude, who the letter says has fallen ill Kumalo undertakes the difficult and expensive journey to the city in the hopes of aiding Gertrude and of finding his son, Absalom, who traveled to Johannesburg from Ndotsheni and never returned In Johannesburg, Kumalo is warmly welcomed by Msimangu, the priest who sent him the letter, and given comfortable lodging by Mrs Lithebe, a Christian woman who feels that helping others is her duty 1973 1348 353 1357 1351 291 1354 1361 1362 485 1383. I cant say enough about this book It is lyrically written, reads almost like an epic out of Ireland The dialog between characters is straightforward, and the book manages to give you a glimpse of Apartheid S Africa, from the richest people, to the poor urban laborers, to the criminals, to the peaceful rural farmers trying to maintain their land after many years of neglect This is a classic that I have read probably 3 or 4 times.My copy is beat to hell, but readable. Just when I thought I had a handle on this book, it got really complicated After getting over the shock of how much South African history and turmoil were skimmed over or ignored completely in my history classes, I felt like this story outlined a pretty clear cut good guy vs an obvious bad guy My initial thoughts were that the natives were a perfectly content group of people who were just fine on their own until the Europeans stepped in and muddled up their entire culture I thought Johannesburg represented the whites the crime, all the immoral behavior, the fast paced city life, and the constant quest for gold, development , and the native life was represented by Kumalo s village few possessions, close family and community ties, and the prevalent church But I should ve known real life doesn t come in neat and tidy little boxes And this situation was much complicated than that At any rate, this story taught me a lot about South Africa and the westernized help that white people are so anxious to provide And the loose ends leave me searching for South African literature This book is one of those classics that I m glad I read, but will probably never read again The themes are important racial equality, morality, forgiveness and the writing is lyrical, but it s still hard to read Alan Paton doesn t use any quotation marks He chooses, instead, to preface each line of dialogue with a dash I could get used to this technique, if he were consistent with it, but he s not Sometimes the dialogue is in the middle of a paragraph, with no indication it s spoken aloud It drove me crazy, having to re read everything to figure out if someone was talking, or just thinking, or if it was just the writer giving us information.The story is set in South Africa, and it helped me understand why that country has been such a mess for so long There are so many different races, languages, belief systems, and classes, it s a wonder anything gets done there at all It s interesting to see the effects of apartheid, the growing pains of a country trying to find equality for all races It was written in the 40s, so things have changed enormously since it was first published, but it still functions as a cautionary tale It is infuriating, inspiring, slow moving but worth the time. A few years ago, after twenty years out of high school, I made a point to start rereading all of the classics assigned to me in school It has been an arduous yet uplifting task as I have experienced these classic books again through an adult mind In this the third year that I am participating in classics bingo, I took the opportunity to revisit another high school book for the classic of the 20th century square Alan Paton s Cry, the Beloved Country seventy years later is still considered the greatest South African novel ever written It exposes worldwide readers to the race relations that the country has experienced during the modern era and the gap that still exists today The message that Paton writes can go along way toward the issues that modern nations experience to this day.Stephen Kumalo is a simple parson who lives in the village of Ndotsheni Although he and his wife have always been happy with their lot in life, his siblings John and Gertrude as well as his son Absalom were enticed by the bright lights of Johannesburg Paton describes Ndotsheni with breath taking prose, and the people of the region till the land, hoping to make due with their station Yet, the land is parched, and as readers find out later on, the church is falling apart as well, as this is what the white man has allotted to the native Zulu and Sesuto people Thus, Johannesburg beckons.Yet, as Paton so eloquently writes, bigger isn t always better Problems upon problems befall native Africans from curfews and bus boycotts to wages in the diamond and gold mines and the unfortunate case of being black in a country ruled by whites Kumalo s daughter and son have fallen upon hard times, and it is up to the parson to use his influence within the church network to bring them to safety.Paton through his characterization of Absalom Kumalo and Arthur Jarvis, the man he is accused of murdering, reveals the disparity between generations in South Africa The younger generation is working toward change in racial relations, a change in which whites and blacks live side by side in peace and prosperity and Nkosi Sikelele Afrika becomes a reality The older, entrenched generation might respect these viewpoints, but for the most part, they are not ready for these changes Arthur Jarvis father James admits that his martyred son was of a brilliant mind, but he is not ready a unified South Africa in which blacks and whites live respectfully together That Paton wrote this novel in the years following World War II and the defeat of fascism show how slow the rest of the world was to change.I appreciated how the older generation in the characters of Msimangu, Stephen Kumalo, and James Jarvis showed magnanimity toward the end of the novel Even though a heinous crime had been committed, the fathers were not going to stand for the crimes of their sons and might even accept that a change is coming to a new South Africa In this era where race relations is unfortunately not a thing of the past, perhaps Cry, the Beloved Country would be an appropriate novel to discuss in high school English classes Yet, with the exquisite prose and mature topics addressed, I achieved from this book through adult eyes than I ever had during my high school years Classics bingo has given me the chance to revisit these lovely novels, and I am happy for the opportunity to do so.5 full stars This isn t an infinitely quotable book, but occasionally it produces a line that is devastatingly clear and true Lines like, It was not his habit to dwell on what could have been, but what could never be and, It is the duty of a judge to do justice, but it is only the people who can be just made me put the book down and stare dumbfounded at the wall But mostly this isn t a highly quotable book it s a beautifully written, riveting book where passages or entire halves of scenes are compelling streams of words, readily understandable for actions and conversations, and profound for their insights and suggestions into human life in adversity and prosperity.If you re going to write a borderline hopeless story, do it like this Paton s prose is mostly readable and occassionally beautiful, especially in his monologues, letters and prayers For example The truth is that our Christian civilization is riddled through and through with dilemma We believe in the brotherhood of man, but we do not want it in South Africa We believe that God endows men with diverse gifts, and that human life depends for its fullness on their employment and enjoyment, but we are afraid to explore this belief too deeply We believe in help for the underdog, but we want him to stay under And we are therefore compelled, in order to preserve our belief that we are Christian, to ascribe to Almighty God, creator of Heaven and Earth, our own human intentions, and to say that because He created white and black, He gives the Divine Approval to any human action that is designed to keep black men from advancement It goes on, but this should give you a sense of Paton s insight and rhetorical ability.Paton touches on almost every level of trouble in post colonial South Africa racism, classism, elitism, residual imperical feelings, how wealth corrupts natives, arbitrary segregation, the loss of family values, the loss of social pride, the abandonment of positive religious teachings, the inability of government and the misunderstanding of the new laws It doesn t blame white people or black people it creates individuals who embody multiple faults, and when such people make up a new nation, it shows how such a system could collapse and increase human suffering Paton does not rub this in your face even his foreward explains that several of these people are real or are based on real people, and his praises those who are working towards a better world This novel is every ounce about trying to do something This isn t literary bleakness or contemptable anti humanitarianism a strange view for any author to have, given that all our authors are humans There are good people stuck in all of this, and from the very first chapter you get a sense that this is, if not a good place, then a place that could be truly great The difference between Alan Paton here and Edith Wharton or Nathanael West in much of their writing is that the disappointment does not permeate the tone and the myopic view does not bias the story Paton is a far sympathetic writer, able to capture the most dangerous elements of humanity in a way that is uniquely his own, though we d be better off if it became common.
Alan Stewart Paton was born and educated in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu Natal He started his career by teaching at a school in Ixopo where he met and married his first wife The dramatic career change to director of a reformatory for black youths at Diepkloof, near Johannesburg, had a profound effect on his thinking The publication of Cry, The Beloved Country 1948 made him one of South Africa s
- 316 pages
- Cry, The Beloved Country
- Alan Paton
- 12 December 2017 Alan Paton