Saturday, December 28, 2013

Cry, the Beloved Country: 29% Complete

Now that I have read almost a third of this book, I know what my mom meant when she said this was one of her "beautiful books."  The poetry and description in this book are gorgeous and very old in it's style.  It reminds me of parts of the Old Testament of the Bible in many ways.
I can think of no better way to demonstrate the lilting nature of this book than to give you part of the very first paragraph in it.
"There is a lovely road that runs from Ixopo into this hills.  These hills are grass-covered and rolling, and they are lovely beyond any singing of it.  The road climbs seven miles into them, to Carisbrooke; and from there, if there is no mist, you look down on one of the fairest valleys of Africa."
I love that phrase, "lovely beyond any singing of it."  Singing has such a way of evoking the emotional side of beauty, so for something to be lovely beyond any singing of it is beauty indeed.
I also ran into an interesting thing.  The quote from the book reads,
"I persuaded him to open a Post Office book, and he already has three or four pounds in it."
I would not have had any idea what a "Post Office book" was if I had not been recently watching the BBC television series "Lark Rise to Candleford" which takes place in the late 1800's in England and in which the Post Office plays an important role.  From watching that show, I knew that the Post Office often served as a sort of bank for rural customers who could not access an actual bank.  A little more research taught me that this system was implemented first in England in the 1860's to promote savings among the poor.  Deposits were limited to thirty pounds a year and a total balance of 150 pounds.  Systems like this still exist in Japan (where the post office was the world's largest savings bank in 2008), Germany, China, Brazil, India, South Africa (where Cry, the Beloved Country takes place, of course) and several other countries.  This information was obtained from, and more information can be found, here.
The vocabulary word for today is "kloof" which is actually an Africaans word (interesting side note: according to the Foreign Service Institute, which ranks difficulty of language learning for English-speakers, Africaans is the easiest language for English-speakers to learn).  Kloof means, "a steep-sided, wooded ravine or valley" (definition from the New Oxford American Dictionary).
And finally, many congratulations to Carrie, winner of our holiday giveaway!  Thank you to everyone who participated!

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