- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Scribner; Classic edition (November 25, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 074326195X
- ISBN-13: 978-0743261951
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 525 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #953,885 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Cry, the Beloved Country Classic Edition
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About the Author
Alan Paton, a native son of South Africa, was born in Pietermaritzburg, in the province of Natal, in 1903. Paton's initial career was spent teaching in schools for the sons of rich, white South Africans, But at thirty, he suffered a severe attack of enteric fever, and in the time he had to reflect upon his life, he decided that he did not want to spend his life teaching the sons of the rich. He got a job as principal of Diepkloof Reformatory, a huge prison school for delinquent black boys, on the edge of Johannesburg. He worked at Diepkloof for ten years, and at the end of it Paton felt so strongly that he needed a change, that he sold his life insurance policies to finance a prison-study trip that took him to Scandinavia, England, and the United States. It was during this time that he unexpectedly wrote his first published novel, Cry, the Beloved Country. It stands as the single most important novel in South African literature. Alan Paton died in 1988 in South Africa.
Top customer reviews
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The language of this book is amazing, poetic but also critical in the development of character. In large part the book is a love song to the land of South Africa, a place of great natural beauty which has been badly treated by man. But the language is also wonderful in expressing different personalities, different experiences, and different ways of thinking -- it changes and shifts with the subject.
The plot and characterization are very powerful. The people are rounded, neither all good nor all bad, and each speaks with his or her own voice. The story pulls one forward with the minister on his journey -- I read this almost without stopping. To a degree, some elements may be jarring for some readers today, particularly readers of color. The book was written almost seventy years ago, and it was written by a white South African, perhaps with the intention of reaching other white South African.
The ideas are compelling, and go far beyond the political. For me, the novel as a whole is about many things, about forgiveness and redemption and the tragedy of death and the miracle of new life The politics, of course, can't help but dominate the foreground. It is sad to think that the subjugation of South Africa's blacks continued for most of the next 50 years. But it is also inspriring to remember that apartheid ended without a civil war, and with reconciliation rather than revenge. A great book, worthy of its subject..
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.