Cry, The Beloved Country

This is my fifth year doing the Back to the Classics challenge. After Cry, The Beloved Country, I only have to read two more, a classic play, and a classic from a place I’ve lived at. I believe I’ll be able to complete the challenge this year as well. However, -as with the Classics Club challenge-, this will possibly be my last year doing challenges.

As months and years pass, I feel the need to reconsider the direction of the blog. When I started it, I wrote a lot more about homeschooling, the curriculum we used, the books I read to the girls, our outings. Time passed and it changed more to my reads and my reviews. Once thing I know, I do want to keep writing here. No matter if months pass in which I don’t write any posts, or read yours either, or if I have seasons of ebullient activity, I know I like writing about my reads, about life, and exchanging thoughts and ideas with all of you.

This year I already quit the local book club. I also felt freer to read whatever I felt compelled to read. A little pass the half way point, I can say it’s been a good reading year. There’s been times when I felt motivated to write reviews, but I still don’t enjoy having to write a stand alone review of the challenge titles. In the past, both challenges brought a beneficial attention to classics I wanted to read. I’ve also found several blogs of others through the challenges.

Don’t take me wrong, comes January, and I know I’d be looking at lists and what not for inspiration. The difference being that I’d be working on just one master book list where I plan to capture all my interests. I’d be revising that list too, but I won’t feel the need to review all I read from it, complete it in any amount of time, it’d be just the books, this blog, and I. And at any given point, that may change too. At the time, this is what makes sense to me.

And now, the review.
Cry, The Beloved Country, written in 1948, by Alan Paton. ★★★★★

I read the book for the Classic From Africa, Asia, or Oceania (includes Australia) category. Classics are books we think we know, but which we don’t. I had no desire to read this title. I thought it’d be completely boring, preaching, the kind of book they want you to read in high school to learn about Africa. The good thing is that a classic of this weight is everywhere, and finally, I’ve learned to ask others. I received an overwhelming response praising the book. I’m in debt, for now I’m one of those for whom this book is a favorite.

At a time of social turmoil, opposition, discontent, when there seems to be irreconcilable opinions or ways to understand life, this book came to show me that such has been and it is the human struggle. We live with more questions than answers, with more pain than healing. I feel there’s not much I can do to bring any peace, justice, or reconciliation to the problems of today, as they in Africa could not solve all their problems, heal their pain, or find justice.

However, reading this book brings my focus back to the only place that’s my beginning and my end, my faith. My faith is in God, and my love to Him moves me to love my neighbor, and the land we share.

The book has also humbled me. It’s not about the big issues, it’s not an all or nothing. There’s purpose in small gestures, in anonymous kind actions, in private and public prayers. On my part, I won’t lose hope, I’ll do better listening to others, -understanding that our varied life experiences make us see life very differently-.

The characters of this book were imperfect, and the main two men, Kumalo and Jarvis, had something in common. They looked beyond themselves, and tried to make sense of life and find purpose beyond what good or bad happened to them. Common people, with their miseries and petty actions, can rise up and show true love and magnanimity.

7 thoughts on “Cry, The Beloved Country

  1. Congratulations on being so near completing the challenge!

    I read Cry the Beloved Country in high school or college and have almost no memory of it. I think I may have had to read it for a history class to better understand Apartheid rather than for English.

    I understand not wanting to do challenges anymore. I like them because they help me give my reading some direction. But I do hope you will keep blogging about what you read. I really enjoy your longer posts about books that really speak to you. Your insight is always enlightening to me. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Count on that, Ruthiella. When I don’t have to do posts for challenges, but love a book, you could hardly shut me up.

      Today at my youngest daughter’s school orientation, the headmaster encouraged us to read again or for the first time, To Kill a Mockingbird.

      I can see how Cry… could be read to understand the African Apartheid. The beauty and honest cry come from someone who must have loved his land and its people. It’s one of those books one appreciates at an older age for sure.

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  2. Silvia: I’m impressed (very) with your progress! Congratulations! I totally understand why you’re considering a change in direction in your reading. I did something rather similar several years ago — I just took a year and read whatever I felt like reading at a particular moment. It was very restorative and reminded me of just how much fun reading can be (I had gotten into a rut). These days, however, I’m enjoying the Challenges; like Ruthiella, I find that they’ve given me some direction in my reading this year (last year I read tons & tons of junk; this year my choices have been more rewarding). The main thing, however, is that you intend to continue with your blog — I’m having too much fun with your posts for you to stop!

    I agree with you about the benefit of re-reading in later life those classics we were forced to read in high school. I hated Great Expectations so much it put me off Dickens for most of my adult life. I re-read it last spring (again, under a mild compulsion, as an assignment for an English class) and actually enjoyed it. I’m afraid I had the opposite reaction to Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird. As a teenager, I thought it “o.k.;” on a re-read eight or nine years ago I actually disliked it. I can understand how others love it, and I think it’s very well done, it just isn’t my cup of tea — I frequently don’t like books set in the South, or that have Southern characters (with one BIG exception — Faulkner! truly one of the greats).

    I’ve never Cry, The Beloved Country, probably because I mentally placed it in the “required classics category!” It’s great to find out that it’s such a rewarding read; I’ll keep it in mind for the future.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww, glad you enjoy my blog. I devour your posts and appreciate each and everyone.

      You know, I think I get you in regards to To Kill a Mockingbird. I only read it a few years ago, and compared to other Southern books, it still had a teenager feel to it.

      I have lived only 20 years in Houston, but I love what my friend describes as Southern Gothic. I will tell you my favorites in that category, and they are all way above To Kill… They are: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, In Cold Blood, Flannery O’Connor, We Have Always Lived in a Castle. I believe there’s a literary quality to those books that exceeds Harper.

      I am terrified of Faulkner. I have this idea that I won’t understand him. However, many of my friends love him.

      Cry, The Beloved, is a good title. I like the first half a bit more than the second half. I can’t blame Paton for tying all knots and being a bit idealistic towards the end, it lost a bit of the initial rawness.

      People of faith, we think this way where we tend to project our hope and make it the last thing standing. Coming from anyone else, it would have bothered me.

      Sadly, not having much other reading reference for that place, people, and conflict, my judgement is limited. But there’s value, I believe, merit to give to Paton for putting this book out there. It’s opened me to want to keep reading and learning in that direction.

      To Kill… was similar as to read Pearl Buck’s Pavilion of Women, the culture feels filtered through the eyes of an outsider. That’s why maybe they are entry books or fit for younger adults. I don’t even know, for I want all ages to read the best, and at the same time is good if you read different iconic books and can see for yourself.

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  3. It’s an interesting topic, one I saw coming up in the articles about Toni Morrison. Who has the right to write about the American South, Africa, the East?
    It’s the topic of cultural appropriation.
    There’s also these transitional authors, before the marginalized gets a voice, are we to thank those who brought a first approximation to those without a voice? I know that after time, their limitations become intolerable.

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