- File Size: 380 KB
- Print Length: 320 pages
- Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0743262441
- Publisher: Scribner; 1 edition (November 25, 2003)
- Publication Date: November 25, 2003
- Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
- Language: English
- ASIN: B000FBJHL2
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #90,167 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
Cry, the Beloved Country 1st Edition, Kindle Edition
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- Length: 320 pages
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
- Page Flip: Enabled
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- Age Level: 13 - 13
- Grade Level: 8 - 8
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"A beautiful novel, rich, firm and moving...its writing is so fresh, its projection of character so immediate and full, its events so compelling, and its understanding so compassionate that to read the book is to share intimately, even to the point of catharsis, in the grave human experience." (The New York Times)
"The greatest novel to emerge out of the tragedy of South Africa, and one of the best novels of our time." (The New Republic)
“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.” (Literary Critic Lewis Gannett )
About the Author
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It is a book on human nature, man's inhumanity to man, man's kindness to man, and on the philosophy of life - especially, its frailty and fatality. It is a book on how the poor build that which the powerful destroy. How the poor work, and the rich enjoy. How the poor get poorer and the rich try harder to keep it so.
The characters are realistic: the humble village parson of Ndotsheni, Rev. Stephen Kumalo, his sincere and helpful newfound friend, Rev. Msimangu, the most accommodating Mrs. Lithebe whose philosophy in life is, "Why are we born if not to help each other?" Then there is John Kumalo, so different from his older brother, the kind, humble, soft-spoken, Rev. Kumalo. So refreshing are Kumalo's innocent and cordial conversations with the boy with "a brightness in him," who rides past the church on a horse, they prove that one who is forgiving and one who is innocent can, between them, transcend any prejudice and hatred. And finally, how Kumalo's humility and sincerity change the heart of a pro-Apartheid white farmer who discovers a silent rebellion in his family, but only when it's too late.
Thank goodness Alan Paton finally found his calling as a writer after being a reformatory-school administrator, an experience which no doubt has helped him write this beautiful everlasting piece. His description of South Africa's outstanding natural beauty is fluent and picturesque. You can almost see the rolling hills disappearing into valleys, smell the earth after the rain, hear the call of the titihoya, and feel yourself rocking in the train bound for Johannesburg in the night. His prose is non-traditional but very understandable. It is hard to agree with reviewers who have had difficulty in understanding who was saying what in the book's dialogues. Forgive me, but if one has had an eighth-grade education, one should have no difficulty in extracting the marrow from this book.
To read this book is to cry for humanity but still hold out a hope for it!
There is no action in the entire thing. The most exciting thing that happened in the whole book was when the main character got a letter in chapter 2. There is a lot of characterization, which is good, but Alan Paton doesn't commit to any one character viewpoint to tell the story, so we never really get the entire story of the characters we care about. I did like a few things about the book, like the internal struggles and conflicts between family members, although the end was a total letdown.Another good part was the beautiful language, although it does get boring after a while. Nothing good happened to any of the characters until the last 4 or 5 chapters.
I strongly encourage you to not buy this book. If you really want to read it, get it at the library. Don't waste your money on this.
The audiobook of Cry, the Beloved Country read by Michael York is also "beautiful beyond singing" and enabled me to feel the poetry even more than reading it. It is a book to be spoken if the power of its poetic prose is to fully emerge.
Overall, I was shocked by the power of this novel and while it's not along the lines of things that I would normally read, I am immensely glad that I decided to read it. Following Stephen Kumalo, a Zulu pastor from the wilds of South Africa, in his seemingly hopeless search for his son in the "civlized" metropolis of Johannesburg was a challenge at times, but Paton's writing and the courage of his character carried me through even the deepest and darkest points of his story and helped me to see the wonder of the human spirit regardless of the challenges and trials that it is put up against.
May not have been my favorite novel of all time, but I am glad that I disregarded my inhibitions and picked this up to actually read it. It may not be everybody's cup of tea, but I would recommend giving Cry, the Beloved Country a chance. You may find something here that you never expected.
Top international reviews
The discovery of diamonds and gold led to the rapid development of mining industries set up to harvest the vast natural resources the country had to offer, and the creation of enormous wealth in the hands of those with the enterprise, capital and know-how to extract those resources.
These entrepreneurs relied on unskilled labour to extract the minerals. Young men and women abandoned their rural communities and headed for the towns in search of a new life away from the poverty and hardship of subsistence farming at the mercy of drought and the failure of the traditional way of life to adapt to modern methods of cultivation.
The streets of Johannesburg were not however paved with gold, any more than the streets of London and other major cities had been in the course of our own Industrial Revolution a century earlier. The wages of the native unskilled workers were low, and conditions were harsh. Inevitably this saw the proliferation of squalid housing, lack of hygiene, and a simmering bitterness and resentment at the lack of social justice. In this context the incidence of violent crime increases, bringing with it fear and suspicion in the minds of those whose property and wellbeing comes under attack.
This is the brave new world into which an elderly Zulu parson from the little village of Ndotsheni in the province of Natal ventures. His only son, brother and younger sister have abandoned their community for the bright lights of Johannesburg and have not been heard of since. In response to a letter of concern from a fellow priest he sets out on a mission to find what has happened to them. He is to discover that his sister Gertrude has resorted to prostitution, and his son Absalom has shot dead a white man in the course of armed robbery, and is to face trial for murder, a capital offence.
Kumalo is terrifyingly out of his depth, an innocent abroad, with very little money and dependant on the goodwill and assistance of others. But he fights exhaustion and the traumatic impact of events and shows dogged persistence, courage and determination in facing up to realities. His simple Christian humility and capacity to offer forgiveness is inspirational throughout. But whilst he encounters practical help and compassion from a number of people, ultimately he has to endure failure: his son is convicted, sentenced to death, and hanged. His sister returns with him to their village, but then absconds leaving behind her child. His brother John meanwhile is attracting the attention of the authorities as a troublemaker, and seems destined to be targeted and dealt with harshly.
The central tragedy of the story is in the fact that the victim of the fatal armed robbery Arthur Jarvis had analysed and was actively developing and expounding a political philosophy which recognised the plight of the exploited natives and was advocating measures to address the imbalances and injustices. His great hero was Abraham Lincoln. Hope is born out of the tragedy as Jarvis’ father seeks to put some of his deceased son’s ideas into practice, and brings to Kumalo’s village some of the practical outside help it badly needs, including a renovated church, and expert agricultural knowhow.
In the South Africa of 1948 as the National Party came to power bringing with them the policy of apartheid these views would have not been welcome, and were indeed regarded as subversive.
The great strength of the book is the author’s rejection of Dickensian sentimentality or resort to caricature. It would have been easy enough to have introduced villainous white mine foremen brutally abusing their vulnerable black workers, or biased judges presiding over a kangaroo court and meting out manifestly unjust verdicts followed by harsh sentences to unrepresented defendants. In fact the trial and judgment are models of due process and reasoned conclusions; and Absalom is represented by a skilled lawyer who takes the case “for God”.
The umfundisi is befriended by the victim’s grandson, oblivious as yet to the idea of racial prejudice. The author’s hope is that the next generation can and must do better. Nelson Mandela’s leadership averted a bloody civil war, but the townships of Johannesburg still remain, and the example of Zimbabwe shows that it isn’t only the white man that is capable of oppression and meting out injustice.
If a novel should bring tears to your eyes - then this is a total classic, despite its time and place.
Someone said it reduced them to tears, so I ordered it.
It is so revealing of the entrenched entitlement of the western colonising white races who failed to see the wisdom of African ethnic customs, cultures and spirituality. This book is a monument to remembering some vitally important things, which would else be consigned to wiful neglect..
Paton's storyteling is engrossing and lyrical language sings, biblically, across the sweep of his few, resonant pages.The spirit of this key work of 20th century literature expresses a generosity of spirit essential for any possibilities of Truth and Reconciliation for our world..