The Hero of Currie Road

Overview

A classic collection of 20 short stories, the core of which is formed by Alan Paton’s famous first volume of short stories Debbie Go Home (1961), published in the US as Tales from a Troubled Land. The rest of the stories are taken from other sources,10 of them from Paton’s last volume, Knocking on the Door (1975). The collection is prefaced by Paton’s lively interview of himself. Paton himself provides the best description of the collection when he says: ‘… you must put your story first, not your politics or ...
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Overview

A classic collection of 20 short stories, the core of which is formed by Alan Paton’s famous first volume of short stories Debbie Go Home (1961), published in the US as Tales from a Troubled Land. The rest of the stories are taken from other sources,10 of them from Paton’s last volume, Knocking on the Door (1975). The collection is prefaced by Paton’s lively interview of himself. Paton himself provides the best description of the collection when he says: ‘… you must put your story first, not your politics or religion or your anger … they inform the story and give it colour and warmth and fire. But they must never usurp the place of the prime motive, which is to tell a story.’ ‘The Hero of Currie Road’, the last story in the collection, was read publicly by Paton in 1970 in Johannesburg and first published in 1972.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781415200506
  • Publisher: New Holland Publishing, Limited
  • Publication date: 3/1/2009
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

With the publication in 1948 of his first novel, Cry the Beloved Country, Alan Paton won international acclaim and – with sales of over ten million copies of the book in paperback – could live thereafter by his pen. He wrote four other books and, from his home in Kloof, frequently contributed to the non-racial review Contact and chaired the board of Reality, the monthly journal of liberal opinion. He was leader of the country’s Liberal Party from 1953. He served as principal for 13 years (1935–48) of Diepkloof Reformatory for delinquent African boys, which provides the setting for some of his most memorable of stories.

Biography

Alan Paton, a native son of South Africa, was born in Pietermaritzburg, in the province of Natal, in 1903. While his mother was a third-generation South African, his father was a Scots Presbyterian who arrived in South Africa just before the Boer War.

Alan Paton attended college in Pietermaritzburg, where he studied science and wrote poetry in his off-hours. After graduating, he wrote two novels and then promptly destroyed them. He devoted himself to writing poetry once again, and later, in his middle years, he wrote serious essays for liberal South African magazines, much the same way his character, Arthur Jarvis, does in Cry, the Beloved Country.

Paton's initial career was spent teaching in schools for the sons of rich white South Africans, But at 30, when he was teaching in Pietermaritzburg, he suffered a severe attack of enteric fever, and in the time he had to reflect upon his life, he decided that he did not want to spend his life teaching the sons of the rich.

Paton was a great admirer of Hofmeyr, a man who dared to tell his fellow Afrikaners that they must give up "thinking with the blood," and "maintain the essential value of human personality as something independent of race or color." Paton wrote to Hofmeyr and asked him for a job. To his surprise, he was offered a job as principal of Diepkloof Reformatory, a huge prison school for delinquent black boys, on the edge of Johannesburg. It was a penitentiary, with barbed wire and barred cells, and under Hofmeyr's inspiring leadership, Paton transformed it. Geraniums replaced the barbed wire, the bars were torn down, and soon the feeling in the place changed.

He worked at Diepkloof for ten years, and though it was certainly a fertile period, at the end of it Paton felt so strongly that he needed a change, that he sold his life insurance policies to finance a prison-study trip that took him to Scandinavia, England, and the United States. It was during this time that he unexpectedly wrote his first published novel, Cry, the Beloved Country. It was in Norway that he began it, after a friendly stranger had taken him to see the rose window in the cathedral of Trondheim by torchlight. Paton, no doubt inspired, sat down in his hotel room and wrote the whole first chapter. He had no idea what the rest of the story would be, but it formed itself while he traveled. Parts were written in Stockholm, Trondheim, Oslo, London, and the United States. It was finished in San Francisco. Cry, the Beloved Country was first published in 1948 by Charles Scribner's Sons. It stands as the single most important novel in South African literature.

Alan Paton died in 1988 in South Africa.

Author biography courtesy of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Good To Know

After studies at the University of Natal, Paton taught at the Ixopo High School for White Students and then at a high school in Pietermaritzburg.

Cry, the Beloved Country was adapted into a play in 1949, entitled Lost in the Stars, featuring songs by composer Kurt Weill. In 1995, a feature film version was released, starring James Earl Jones as Kumalo.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Alan Stewart Patton
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 11, 1903
    2. Place of Birth:
      Pietermaritzburg, Natal, South Africa
    1. Date of Death:
      April 12, 1988
    2. Place of Death:
      Durban, Natal, South Africa

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