Alan Paton's Cry, the Beloved Country; New Edition (Bloom's by Harold Bloom (ed)

By Harold Bloom (ed)

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Additional resources for Alan Paton's Cry, the Beloved Country; New Edition (Bloom's Modern Critical Interpretations)

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The tragic hero is a scapegoat who takes our punishment. By his suffering we undergo a ritual of expiation, and as we watch in sympathy our emotions are purged, as Aristotle noted, through the operations of pity and terror. Tragedy affords a solution, both artistic and otherwise, to that which in reality has not been solved at all. Coetzee goes on to say: Religious tragedy reconciles us to the inscrutable dispensation by giving a meaning to suffering and defeat . . The predominant example of religious tragedy in South Africa is Alan Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Country.

3 It is not, however, only because of its apolitical nature that tragedy becomes a mode which results in mystification rather than revelation. In the final essay of Language And Silence, George Steiner, discussing whether revolutionary art will succeed in producing ‘high’ revolutionary tragedy, remarks: no less than a tragedy with God, with a compensating mechanism of final justice and retribution, a tragedy without God, a tragedy 36 Stephen Watson of pure immanence, is a self-contradiction. Genuine tragedy is inseparable from the mystery of injustice, from the conviction that man is a precarious guest in a world where forces of unreason have dark governance.

Now it is all too clear that throughout Cry, the Beloved Country Paton is preaching for a revolution of hearts (“Change from Within”) rather than for a revolution in social and economic structure (“Change from Without”). Because of his liberal Christian vision and the limits it automatically imposes 42 Stephen Watson on the nature and range of political beliefs and practices available to him, he never really questions the power of humility, respect for persons, compassion and the quest for personal salvation to achieve a significant restructuring of society.

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