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Cry, the Beloved Country [Deluxe Edition] [Hardcover]

by Alan Paton
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (385 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 25, 2003 074326195X 978-0743261951 Classic Edition
An Oprah Book Club selection, Cry, the Beloved Country, the most famous and important novel in South Africa’s history, was an immediate worldwide bestseller in 1948. 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.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In search of missing family members, Zulu priest Stephen Kumalo leaves his South African village to traverse the deep and perplexing city of Johannesburg in the 1940s. With his sister turned prostitute, his brother turned labor protestor and his son, Absalom, arrested for the murder of a white man, Kumalo must grapple with how to bring his family back from the brink of destruction as the racial tension throughout Johannesburg hampers his attempts to protect his family. With a deep yet gentle voice rounded out by his English accent, Michael York captures the tone and energy of this novel. His rhythmic narration proves hypnotizing. From the fierce love of Kumalo to the persuasive rhetoric of Kumalo's brother and the solemn regret of Absalom, York injects soul into characters tempered by their socioeconomic status as black South Africans. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.


"The greatest novel to emerge out of the tragedy of South Africa, and one of the best novels of our time."
-- The New Republic (UNKNOWN )

"A beautiful novel, rich, firm and moving . . ."
-- The New York Times (New York Times ) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; Classic Edition edition (November 25, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 074326195X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743261951
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 5.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (385 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #422,200 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
204 of 213 people found the following review helpful
When first published in 1948 in apartheid South Africa, Cry, the Beloved Country raised more than eyebrows as a powerful book about the power of unity and an author's unflinching hope of a future where segregation no longer exists. The book summoned feelings of pride, optimism, and anticipation of a long-desired goal. But Paton's lyrical, poetic prose is not your typical run-of-the-mill anger evoking story about discrimination. The story is a humanizing experience that evokes feelings of sympathy and understanding, not hatred for a system so blatantly wrong.
In Cry, the Beloved Country, readers feel an uncanny connection to three things: the land, an old black rural priest searching in a corrupt city for his son, and an old white rural man confronting the loss of his son. All three aspects of the book are connected by a common thread. And a great thing about the book is that Paton doesn't feel the need to build up to the emotional climax by setting the readers against a well defined antagonist, or even an antagonist at all; on a micro-scale, the story is a moving tribute to man's inherent dignity; on a macro-scale, the themes and plethora of symbols are applied to man's all-too mortal nature.
This book is also a can't-miss for any fans of poetry who want to read a good work of prose. As the New Republic puts it, Cry, the Beloved Country is "the greatest novel to emerge out of the tragedy of South Africa, and one of the best novels of our time." I would be inclined to agree.
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80 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My all-time favorite January 25, 2001
Of the (literally) thousands of books I have read in my life, this is still my favorite. I first read it as a freshman in high school (in 1960, when apartheid was still the law of South Africa), and the sheer beauty of the language took away my breath. The words were so powerful that I memorized many portions of the text, just so I would be able to repeat the words aloud whenever I wished. When JFK was assassinated in 1963, I gave a presentation to my senior English class, and began it with the section of this book that starts: "There is not much talking now, a silence falls on them all...." The class was mesmerized at Mr. Paton's eerily appropriate words, and tears were shed. I've always encouraged my own children to read and they are almost as voracious with books as their dad. Needless to say, this is one of the books I highly recommend to them, because of the excellent writing, and I highly recommend it to you for the same reason.
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86 of 93 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It impressed me years ago, yet again when I re-read it October 15, 2002
I first read the book when I was in high school for our novel section of AP English. As a writer now, it is strangely thrilling to see how Paton's ideas and poetry influenced my own prose. "The Grapes of Wrath" by Steinbeck was good, but I felt that it lacked the words of the heart that Paton writes with. Never have I read a more simple and profound book, so lovingly crafted, so authentic and natural, that some fifty years later after Paton wrote the novel, it still has not been superceded. Kumalo's plight is everyman's plight; his burden our burden; his son our son. Dear students, don't read this book because your teacher tells you to, you will learn nothing that way. Read it, because you earnestly desire it, because it is well worth it.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's on my Top 10 July 22, 2008
How much can a man love his country? How much can he love his son? His God? Can justice prevail when man cannot? What is forgiveness? Redemption? Grace? To consider all these elements in one novel is not possible. Or is it?

"Cry, the Beloved Country" is all these things and more. It is forgiveness writ large. It is agape love in the doing. It is the story of two fathers, each with a son. One son is the victim of apartheid and is lost. The other is also a victim of apartheid but of the other side. He seeks to find a way to make things better, to make things right. The lost one kills the seeking one. One is African, the other is Afrikaaner, and therein lies the difference and the ultimate. This difference, this ultimate, this absolute are what drove Alan Paton in the writing of South Africa's most famous, most searing novel of the separation of races in all ways.

Absalom Kumalo's life is limited in all ways because he is black South African. Arthur Jarvis is an engineer and has all the privileges of white South Africa, yet he is keen on social justice and works to bring it to pass. What irony then that the one without kills the one seeking to bring justice. However, it is this very irony that brings their fathers to friendship, to a bonding of black man and white man.

Umfundisi is the black priest (not Catholic) of a simple, poor church in a village located near the home of the rich landowner and farmer, James Jarvis, who really does not know his son until he is dead. It is the getting to know his son that he connects with the African, and the father becomes the son in the ways of love and forgiveness. The umfundisi is one of my favorite characters in all literature I have read because of his humility and reverence.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A heartbreaking story of redemption and forgiveness July 29, 2003
Tragic story set in South Africa during a now-ended era. Cry the Beloved Country is worth a careful read for its many-layered messages of loss and faith, of murder and penitence, of guilt and redemption - and through it all is Rev. Kumalo's love for his people (and not just his, but for the inherent goodness in ALL people), his family, his church - and most of all, his country.
It's a classic that has already withstood the test of time - and will doubtless continue to do so.
Don't miss it, and share it with someone else.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Cry, the Beloved Country
Loved the book. The style of writing took a little getting used to, but was well written and kept my interest. i cannot believe how unjust we are to people of color. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Joyce
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down!
Incredibly moving story, it is somewhat hard to read at first with the format, but you catch on quickly. Read more
Published 20 days ago by K. Wallace
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Novel, Highly Recommend This Book
Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton, is a moving novel about the life of a pastor named Stephen Kumalo, his journey and experience in the city of Johannesburg and the land of... Read more
Published 1 month ago by JS
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreaking
This book made me unbelievably sad. I could feel te pain of both the priest and the farmer, and of all South Africa.
Published 1 month ago by Falco sparverius
5.0 out of 5 stars Quick delivery!
The book was needed for homeschooling. It was easy to order, arrived quickly and in excellent shape. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Leali Stone
5.0 out of 5 stars Good purchase
I needed this book for my AP Literature class in High School and it is working great. The price was amazing and there was nothing wrong with the book. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Stacey Anderson
5.0 out of 5 stars pleased
I ordered this book because it was a requirement for Scotlandville Magnet High School Honors English Class, daughter did not need the book because her classmates could not find it,... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Brenda Lacy
5.0 out of 5 stars a classic in every way
The most surprising thing about this book is that Paton wrote it in 1946. The language is a little odd but somehow intoned the voice of an African speaker. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Patti
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic ... required readng
No one should pass over this book, especially in view of the importance of South Africa in today's international politics.
Published 2 months ago by RRL
5.0 out of 5 stars Alan Paton has written a new New Testament
This is some of the most beautiful writing in modern literature. The ancient Greeks would have approved of its poetry. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Barbara A jackson
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