Oprah's Book Club has been working with some of the leading scholars on Alan Paton's work, many of whom were actually close friends of the author—to bring you insights and perspectives on Cry, the Beloved Country .
Reading Cry, the Beloved Country , it's hard not to be struck by the poetry in Paton's words. "Cry, the beloved country for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply." Paton's heart was captured by poetry, by the Bible, and by the entrancing music of the Zulu people. All of these elements are artistically woven into his work.
And Paton's love for words was as deep as his love for South Africa, as Dr. Edward Callan, an expert on Paton's work and lifelong friend of the author, points out: "If the novel, in fact, reads 'like a lovely poem,' it may be because inside Alan Paton, in whatever role we encounter him—teacher, penal reformer, biographer, novelist, or foe of apartheid—there is always a lyric poet and a passionate orator. Long before he set pen to his now famous novel, Paton was a lover of language and of the spoken word.
"All his life Alan Paton was torn between a desire for the creative life as a writer, and the demands of his work as teacher, social reformer, and reluctant, but determined, politician. Paton wrote poetry often throughout his life. The success of Cry, the Beloved Country brought him a source of independent income that made it feasible for him to focus on writing for the remainder of his lifetime. Much of what he wrote was poetry." What poems captured Alan Paton's imagination? How is his style of writing both "biblical" and musical? Find out more!
Alan Paton's Literary Influences
Take a poetic journey through Cry, the Beloved Country and learn more about the impact of poetry on the author's life, imagination and works! Plus, what part did Walt Whitman play in the creation of Alan Paton's poetry?
Take the poetic journey now!
Unpack the Power of Books
When James Jarvis sits in his dead son's chair he is astonished: "Books, books, books, more books than he had ever seen in a house." What do books represent—to the characters and as a symbol—in this novel about South Africa's racial divide? Dr. Edward Callan, Alan Paton's lifelong friend and scholar, sheds some light.
Read Dr. Callan's article.