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Cry, the Beloved Country | [Alan Paton]

Cry, the Beloved Country

This is the most distinguished novel that has come out of South Africa in the 20th century, and it is one of the most important novels of the modern era. Cry, the Beloved Country is in some ways a sad book; it is an indictment of a social system that drives native races into resentment and crime; it is a story of Fate, as inevitable, as relentless, as anything of Thomas Hardy's. Beautifully wrought with high poetic compassion, Cry, the Beloved Country is more than just a story, it is a profound experience of the human spirit.
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Publisher's Summary

This is the most distinguished novel that has come out of South Africa in the 20th century, and it is one of the most important novels that has appeared anywhere in modern times. Cry, the Beloved Country is in some ways a sad book; it is an indictment of a social system that drives native races into resentment and crime; it is a story of Fate, as inevitable, as relentless, as anything of Thomas Hardy's. Beautifully wrought with high poetic compassion, Cry, the Beloved Country is more than just a story, it is a profound experience of the human spirit. And beyond the intense and insoluble personal tragedy, it is the story of the beautiful and tragic land of South Africa, its landscape, its people, and its bitter racial ferment and unrest.

Public Domain ©1948 by Alan Paton; (P)1993 by Blackstone Audiobooks

What Members Say

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  •  
    Robyn Modbury, Australia 12-10-13
    Robyn Modbury, Australia 12-10-13 Member Since 2012
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    "A truly great book"

    There is not a lot one can say about Cry, the Beloved Country which hasn't already been said. It is a classic, and deservedly so. If some of the sad scenes and inspiring moments don't bring a tear to your eye or a lump to your throat, you're a tough cookie. I was sorry to read a review saying that Michael York's pronunciation of Afrikaans words/names and his Afrikaans accent were poor. I am a stickler for correct pronunciation in the languages I know, and many an otherwise good Audible book has been hard to finish because the narrator mispronounced words or names. But I don't know Afrikaans at all, so I wasn't aware of this shortcoming and thus I thought Michael York's reading was just wonderful - he conveyed all of the emotions of all the characters, his timing was perfect, and his Stephen Kumalo voice brought the old priest right into the room with me. Michael York didn't just read the book, he acted the story and the characters, and I loved every minute of listening to him. I know I will often return to this book, both for the wonderful story and for Michael York's beautiful narration.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Louisiana United States 09-22-13
    Louisiana United States 09-22-13 Member Since 2006
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    "Transported me to a place & time"
    What does Michael York bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I love Michael York. Excellent reader. I felt like I was listening to different characters - each had his own voice, & each was perfect. The rhythm of Mr. York's voice invoked Africa in a way I wouldn't have been able to hear if I'd read the book myself.


    Any additional comments?

    I've heard of this title for a long time. Now I can't believe I've taken so long to read/listen to it. I'm recommending it to others. The writing is so perfect; the story & the setting & the characters just transported me to a place I've never been, but now I feel like I have been there. The feeling of the characters came through so strongly, in a very real & human way without being overdone. I can't say enough about this experience. Thank you.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nicola M. Stone Sunshine Coast, QLD Australia 05-25-13
    Nicola M. Stone Sunshine Coast, QLD Australia 05-25-13

    Nicky Stone

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    "A classic story beautifully told"
    Would you listen to Cry, the Beloved Country again? Why?

    Yes. It is a wonderful, powerful and emotional book and is very well read by Michael York.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Cry, the Beloved Country?

    The old man's journey across Johannesburg, searching for his son.


    Have you listened to any of Michael York’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I liked listening to it in the car in instalments - it made trips a pleasure and I was sorry when it was finished.


    Any additional comments?

    A classic story of Southern Africa - as relevant today as it was in the 1940s.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dr. Kenneth P. Nunn Sydney 05-04-13
    Dr. Kenneth P. Nunn Sydney 05-04-13 Member Since 2012

    Kenneth Nunn

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    "Meeting old friends and loving them more"
    What made the experience of listening to Cry, the Beloved Country the most enjoyable?

    Michael York brought this great work to life and showed me its power in a way that I had never appreciated when I studied the book over 45 years ago. His pacing, gentle rhythm, accents of each dialect and the fundamental structure of the Zulu language underpinning Alan Paton's language, despite being in English, came through. After listening, I went back to the written book with such a clear appreciation of the narrative architecture that I read with constant admiration the dialogue that is at one in the same time simple, powerful and morally magisterial.


    What other book might you compare Cry, the Beloved Country to and why?

    I suppose the obvious literary and subject comparison is "To kill a mocking bird" by Harper Lee and I have decided to revisit that book as well as a result of listening to Michael York's rendition of Cry, the Beloved Country and re-reading this book. However, for me there is a Biblical lilt which is never cliche or judgmental; a sort of Christianity that every agnostic might feel comfortable having as a neighbour. It has a moral voice that is not strident or censorious and a compassionate voice that is never manipulative or descending to schmalz.


    Which character – as performed by Michael York – was your favorite?

    Michael York captures the character of Stephen Kumalo, the Zulu Anglican priest and father of Absalom beautifully. However, his rendering of the nameless Afrikaner from the reformatory is an arresting and memorable cameo performance, among many, which makes the fabric of the book immune to the reverse prejudice so common in portrayals of South African society.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I was happy to hear this book unabridged and to listen to it several times. It is has a melancholy comfort in its incantation of the tragedy of that great country whose story is not yet finished. I am not South African but I am left with a great respect for those there who have grappled with the great issues that many other nations, societies and communities have not even begun to appreciate.


    Any additional comments?

    I want to thank Michael York for his subtle rendering of this great classic which has allowed its literary greatness to emerge undistorted and undiminished.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Oluwaseun Snellville, GA, United States 04-03-13
    Oluwaseun Snellville, GA, United States 04-03-13
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    "Worth listening to..."
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    I listened to this audiobook in preparation for an exam. In that sense, listening to the audiobook is time well-spent. In other respects, I would not listen at all. The reader perfectly reflected the monotonous rhetoric in Paton's narration that at times made me feel like I was listening to a bedtime story. The plot is rather simple and offers very little plot twists and intriguing, thought-provoking scenes and/or characters. Anyone interested in reading about South African apartheid and other aspects of its culture for LEISURE should look elsewhere.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Alan Paton again?

    If the style of narration shows evident in Paton's other published works, then I'm obliged to refuse reading any more.


    What aspect of Michael York’s performance would you have changed?

    The reader' tried his possible best and succeeded to reillustrate the words and pictures described in the book. There isn't really much I can change about his performance since it is not HIS book. My opinion falls under the desire to change aspects of the book itself rather than reader.


    Do you think Cry, the Beloved Country needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    I think this book does require a sequel, simply because of the confusion in the weight of the plot. I wasn't sure who the book was exactly about or at times who was speaking. You might say that's due to the author's discretion and style. However, the reader wasn't much help either in helping realize who was speaking, whom to etc. and therefore distorted my understanding of the story.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jan Rochester, NY, United States 03-20-13
    Jan Rochester, NY, United States 03-20-13 Member Since 2011

    Eclectic, avid listener, favorite book is the one currently in ear.

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    "Slow moving, lyrical and profound 1948 Classic"

    “The tragedy is not that things are broken. The tragedy is that things are not mended again.” Alan, Paton.
    The novel is a series of conversations and interactions as Stephen Kumalo a native village priest goes into Johannesburg to find missing family and friends from the village. The world of South Africa, the thoughts, beliefs, problems and challenges of many of the different groups are shared. I imagine impatient readers would hate this book as it slowly and symbolically unwinds... but I personally loved it. I saw and felt much of the symbolism, but honestly a peek at Cliff Notes helped me understand even more. Oprah has a web page about the book. Nelson Mandela calls it "a monument to the future." For me it belongs on a book "everyone should read once" list.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan Hunt Takoma Park, MD 03-05-13
    Ryan Hunt Takoma Park, MD 03-05-13 Member Since 2012

    Ryan Hunt

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    "Love this book"
    Where does Cry, the Beloved Country rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Great as far as entertainment. Really transports you.


    Any additional comments?

    Great story. Really pulls you into it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rebecca Lakewood, CO, United States 10-13-12
    Rebecca Lakewood, CO, United States 10-13-12 Member Since 2009

    Love to read, and Audible has made the two-hour daily commute enjoyable!

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    "Loved this Beloved Book"

    The movie was beautiful - the book is sublime.

    Paton wrote a fable, cautionary tale about the destruction of "the beloved country" by destroying tribes and implementing a racial descrimination system that later would become apartheid.

    Beautiful example of how people of different background can have epiphanies and open their hearts in the face of horrible darkness and tragedy Two neighbors from rural South African lives are brought together when one's son kills the other man's son. The main characters are a black Anglican Priest (Stephen Kumalo), and a rich white farmer (Arthur Jarvis). Through lessons they learned, Kumalo by seeing lives destroyed in Johannesburg, and Jarvis reading the writings of his son, who was an activist for fair treatment and equality for blacks, these two men come together to start what could be the healing of this country.

    Michael York's narration made this book even more incredible.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K. A. Gove København Ø Denmark 05-06-12
    K. A. Gove København Ø Denmark 05-06-12 Member Since 2008
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    "A classic, must-read"

    What more can possibly be said about this book? It's a seminal and critical book about South Africa. It's amazingly contemporary although clearly the ground rules in South Africa have changed. I highly recommend this book. The narration by Michael York was quite good but, I found the English accent a bit distracting. Are there no South African actors who could narrate?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nathanael Fairfax, VA, United States 12-05-11
    Nathanael Fairfax, VA, United States 12-05-11 Member Since 2008
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    "A wonderful book, one of the best I've ever read!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Cry, the Beloved Country to be better than the print version?

    Apples and oranges. This was very well performed, but for me audiobooks are mainly a way to read when I'm commuting, cleaning, cooking, etc. The main thing is the text.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Steven Kumalo, the main character. A true Christian.


    What does Michael York bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    He speaks very tenderly, which is appropriate for this book.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Many of them. The bishop's visit brought me to tears. It is a very, very good book, very sober and hard in places, but full of wisdom, and crafted very well, so that it has a sense of completeness. Also of great historical interest. And of great moral interest.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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