Original Research

Maxwell Anderson’s song lyric ‘Lost in the Stars’ and his Ulyssean adaptation of Alan Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Country

Etienne Viviers
Literator | Vol 38, No 1 | a1406 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v38i1.1406 | © 2017 Etienne Viviers | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 March 2017 | Published: 29 September 2017

About the author(s)

Etienne Viviers, MASARA Research Entity, School for Music, North-West University, South Africa


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Abstract

This article inspects selected thematic and adaptive links between Alan Paton’s classic South African novel, Cry, the Beloved Country, and its stage adaptation for Broadway by Maxwell Anderson and Kurt Weill, the musical tragedy Lost in the Stars. Particular focus is given to the latter work’s title song ‘Lost in the Stars’, in order to examine a Ulyssean-inspired message contained in its lyrics, which concerns God’s purported abandoning of humankind. To understand this message more fully, an earlier and unrealised collaboration of Anderson’s and Weill’s called Ulysses Africanus is investigated, dormant material of which resurfaced in their eventual adaptation of Paton’s novel. After a discussion of certain intricacies of adapting Cry, the Beloved Country into Lost in the Stars, it is demonstrated that Anderson’s religious worldview was incompatible with that which permeates Cry, the Beloved Country, with the result that Paton was greatly unhappy with Lost in the Stars.

Keywords

Alan Paton; Cry the Beloved Country; Kurt Weill; Lost in the Stars; musical tragedy; tragedy; Ulysses; Ulysses Africanus

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