Alan (Stewart) Paton 1903–
South African novelist, short story writer, biographer, autobiographer, and essayist.
Paton is perhaps best known for his novels Cry, the Beloved Country and Too Late the Phalarope. Both of these works, as with the majority of his writing, expose and confront the South African situation. With a perceptive and sympathetic understanding, Paton examines the exploitation of nonwhites by the elite ruling class and reveals the effects this has not only on the exploited, but on the country as a whole.
It is with a religious rather than a political conviction that Paton devotes his life to the betterment of his country. Coming from a puritanical background heavily influenced both morally and stylistically by the Old Testament prophets, Paton approaches his cause with a quiet yet passionate eloquence. Some critics feel that the parable-like qualities of his writing—the spare and evenly biblical prose, the underdeveloped characters, the heavy thematic significance—detract from the literary value of his works. Others, however, feel that these points provide a classical, absorbing power which captivates the reader.
(See also CLC, Vols. 4, 10; Contemporary Authors, Vols. 15-16; Contemporary Authors Permanent Series, Vol. 1; and Something about the Author, Vol. 11.)