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Barron's Booknotes-Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton

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REFERENCE

THE CRITICS

ALAN PATON - Alan Paton... needs no introduction to Americans. "Cry, the Beloved Country" was published in 1948, and ever since he has been cited as one of the premier South African writers of his time: perhaps of all time.... He is 78 years old now and his voice is slow and deliberate, but the words offer years
of careful thought. He has lived through changes in government, people and publishing, and witnessed the economic growth of his nation. And, perhaps more than any other living South African author, he has chronicled these changes for the world to read.

Andrew Sussman, "Three Writers," Publishers Weekly, 1982

THE NOVEL

Cry, the Beloved Country may be longer remembered than any other novel of 1948, but not because it fits into any pattern of the modern novel. It stands by itself; it creates rather than follows a tradition. It is at once unashamedly innocent and subtly sophisticated. It is a story; it is a prophecy; it is a psalm. It is passionately African, as no book before it had been; it is universal.

Lewis Gannett, "Introduction," Cry, the Beloved Country, 1948



INJUSTICE SHOWN WITHOUT VIOLENCE

Cry, the Beloved Country is a great novel, but not because it speaks out against racial intolerance and its bitter effects. Rather the haunting milieu of a civilization choking out its own vitality is evoked naturally and summons our compassion. There are no brutal invectives, no blatant injustices to sear the reader's conscience, no vicious hatred, no righteously unleashed passion. It is a great compliment to Paton's genius that he communicates both a story and a lasting impression without bristling, bitter anger.

F. Charles Rooney, "The 'Message' of Alan Paton," Catholic World, 1961, in Paton's Cry, the Beloved Country: The Novel, The Critics, The Setting, ed. Sheridan Baker, 1968

STEPHEN KUMALO

The mainspring of this unusual book is saintliness. The hero, an old Zulu minister, the Reverend Stephen Kumalo, is a feat of characterization rare in the modern novel: a convincing portrait of a saintly man. Charles J. Rolo, "Reader's Choice," The Atlantic Monthly, 1948, in Paton's Cry, the Beloved Country: The Novel, The Critics, The Setting, ed. Sheridan Baker, 1968

THEME OF THE NOVEL

Paton succeeds to a remarkable degree in portraying a segment of South African life during a brief period immediately following the end of World War II. And he succeeds, to an even more remarkable degree, in endowing this regional portrait with universal significance. He accomplishes this by incorporating into the actualities of South Africa's physical and social setting a fundamental theme of social disintegration and moral restoration. This theme is worked out through two complementary, or counterpointed, actions: Stephen Kumalo's physical search for his son Absalom, and James Jarvis' intellectual search for the spirit of his son Arthur. In each case, the journey, once undertaken, leads to an inner, spiritual awakening. Edward Callan, Alan Paton, 1968

STYLE OF LANGUAGE

[There is] a dominant style associated with the book. This is the pattern of speech with a marked poetic quality accorded to Kumalo and the African characters generally, and also to some extent employed in the lyric passages voiced from outside the action. This quality can be viewed as an artistic re-creation, in English, of the sound and syntax of spoken Zulu. But to be more precise, it is an artistic amalgam: a melting-pot of African and other speech patterns analogous to the tribal melting-pot in industrial Johannesburg. Thus, the language of Cry, the Beloved Country is a poetic invention designed to carry over into English the effects of the sound and idiom of African speech.

At least as many readers were drawn to Cry, the Beloved Country by the freshness of its language and the pleasure of its rhythms as by its insights into social dilemmas and complex relations among races. In contrast to the commonplace language of journalism they found Paton's language fresh and lively.

Edward Callan, Alan Paton, 1968

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