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Pearl Buck in China: Journey to the Good Earth

by

Pearl Buck in China: Journey to the Good Earth Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

One of the twentieth century’s most extraordinary Americans, Pearl Buck was the first person to make China accessible to the West.

 

She recreated the lives of ordinary Chinese people in The Good Earth, an overnight worldwide bestseller in 1932, later a blockbuster movie. Buck went on to become the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Long before anyone else, she foresaw China’s future as a superpower, and she recognized the crucial importance for both countries of China’s building a relationship with the United States. As a teenager she had witnessed the first stirrings of Chinese revolution, and as a young woman she narrowly escaped being killed in the deadly struggle between Chinese Nationalists and the newly formed Communist Party.

Pearl grew up in an imperial China unchanged for thousands of years. She was the child of American missionaries, but she spoke Chinese before she learned English, and her friends were the children of Chinese farmers. She took it for granted that she was Chinese herself until she was eight years old, when the terrorist uprising known as the Boxer Rebellion forced her family to flee for their lives. It was the first of many desperate flights. Flood, famine, drought, bandits, and war formed the background of Pearl’s life in China. "Asia was the real, the actual world," she said, "and my own country became the dreamworld."

Pearl wrote about the realities of the only world she knew in The Good Earth. It was one of the last things she did before being finally forced out of China to settle for the first time in the United States. She was unknown and penniless with a failed marriage behind her, a disabled child to support, no prospects, and no way of telling that The Good Earth would sell tens of millions of copies. It transfixed a whole generation of readers just as Jung Chang’s Wild Swans would do more than half a century later. No Westerner had ever written anything like this before, and no Chinese had either.

Buck was the forerunner of a wave of Chinese Americans from Maxine Hong Kingston to Amy Tan. Until their books began coming out in the last few decades, her novels were unique in that they spoke for ordinary Asian people— "translating my parents to me," said Hong Kingston, "and giving me our ancestry and our habitation." As a phenomenally successful writer and civil-rights campaigner, Buck did more than anyone else in her lifetime to change Western perceptions of China. In a world with its eyes trained on China today, she has much to tell us about what lies behind its astonishing reawakening.

Review:

"Weaving a colorful tapestry of Pearl Buck's life (1892 — 1973) with strands of Chinese history and literature, Spurling, winner of the Whitbread Book of the Year Prize for Matisse the Master — vividly correlates Buck's experiences of China's turbulent times to her novels. Growing up in a missionary family in China, Buck lived through the upheavals of the Boxer Rebellion and China's civil war, two marriages, and a daughter with a degenerative disease; her closeup view of the horrors of China's extreme rural poverty made her an American literary celebrity as well as a Pulitzer and a Nobel Prize winner when she enshrined her observations of China in the Good Earth trilogy. Back in the United States, having opened America's eyes to China, Buck worked to repeal America's discriminatory laws against the Chinese and established an adoption agency for minority and mixed race children. For her support of racial equality, Buck was blacklisted as a Communist sympathizer even as her books were banned in Communist China 'for spreading reactionary, imperialist lies'; Spurling's fast-paced and compassionate portrait of a writer who described the truth before her eyes without ideological bias, whose personal life was as tumultuous as the times she lived in, will grip readers who, unlike Spurling, didn't grow up reading Buck's work. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

One of the twentieth centurys most extraordinary Americans, Pearl Buck was the first person to make China accessible to the West.

 

She recreated the lives of ordinary Chinese people in The Good Earth, an overnight worldwide bestseller in 1932, later a blockbuster movie. Buck went on to become the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Long before anyone else, she foresaw Chinas future as a superpower, and she recognized the crucial importance for both countries of Chinas building a relationship with the United States. As a teenager she had witnessed the first stirrings of Chinese revolution, and as a young woman she narrowly escaped being killed in the deadly struggle between Chinese Nationalists and the newly formed Communist Party.

Pearl grew up in an imperial China unchanged for thousands of years. She was the child of American missionaries, but she spoke Chinese before she learned English, and her friends were the children of Chinese farmers. She took it for granted that she was Chinese herself until she was eight years old, when the terrorist uprising known as the Boxer Rebellion forced her family to flee for their lives. It was the first of many desperate flights. Flood, famine, drought, bandits, and war formed the background of Pearls life in China. "Asia was the real, the actual world," she said, "and my own country became the dreamworld."

Pearl wrote about the realities of the only world she knew in The Good Earth. It was one of the last things she did before being finally forced out of China to settle for the first time in the United States. She was unknown and penniless with a failed marriage behind her, a disabled child to support, no prospects, and no way of telling that The Good Earth would sell tens of millions of copies. It transfixed a whole generation of readers just as Jung Changs Wild Swans would do more than half a century later. No Westerner had ever written anything like this before, and no Chinese had either.

Buck was the forerunner of a wave of Chinese Americans from Maxine Hong Kingston to Amy Tan. Until their books began coming out in the last few decades, her novels were unique in that they spoke for ordinary Asian people— "translating my parents to me," said Hong Kingston, "and giving me our ancestry and our habitation." As a phenomenally successful writer and civil-rights campaigner, Buck did more than anyone else in her lifetime to change Western perceptions of China. In a world with its eyes trained on China today, she has much to tell us about what lies behind its astonishing reawakening.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781416540427
Author:
Spurling, Hilary
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Historical - General
Subject:
Authors, American -- 20th century.
Subject:
Americans -- China.
Subject:
Biography-Literary
Publication Date:
20100631
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
9.25 x 6.25 in 18.27 oz

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Related Subjects

Biography » Literary
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Pearl Buck in China: Journey to the Good Earth Used Hardcover
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Product details 320 pages Simon & Schuster - English 9781416540427 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Weaving a colorful tapestry of Pearl Buck's life (1892 — 1973) with strands of Chinese history and literature, Spurling, winner of the Whitbread Book of the Year Prize for Matisse the Master — vividly correlates Buck's experiences of China's turbulent times to her novels. Growing up in a missionary family in China, Buck lived through the upheavals of the Boxer Rebellion and China's civil war, two marriages, and a daughter with a degenerative disease; her closeup view of the horrors of China's extreme rural poverty made her an American literary celebrity as well as a Pulitzer and a Nobel Prize winner when she enshrined her observations of China in the Good Earth trilogy. Back in the United States, having opened America's eyes to China, Buck worked to repeal America's discriminatory laws against the Chinese and established an adoption agency for minority and mixed race children. For her support of racial equality, Buck was blacklisted as a Communist sympathizer even as her books were banned in Communist China 'for spreading reactionary, imperialist lies'; Spurling's fast-paced and compassionate portrait of a writer who described the truth before her eyes without ideological bias, whose personal life was as tumultuous as the times she lived in, will grip readers who, unlike Spurling, didn't grow up reading Buck's work. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , One of the twentieth centurys most extraordinary Americans, Pearl Buck was the first person to make China accessible to the West.

 

She recreated the lives of ordinary Chinese people in The Good Earth, an overnight worldwide bestseller in 1932, later a blockbuster movie. Buck went on to become the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Long before anyone else, she foresaw Chinas future as a superpower, and she recognized the crucial importance for both countries of Chinas building a relationship with the United States. As a teenager she had witnessed the first stirrings of Chinese revolution, and as a young woman she narrowly escaped being killed in the deadly struggle between Chinese Nationalists and the newly formed Communist Party.

Pearl grew up in an imperial China unchanged for thousands of years. She was the child of American missionaries, but she spoke Chinese before she learned English, and her friends were the children of Chinese farmers. She took it for granted that she was Chinese herself until she was eight years old, when the terrorist uprising known as the Boxer Rebellion forced her family to flee for their lives. It was the first of many desperate flights. Flood, famine, drought, bandits, and war formed the background of Pearls life in China. "Asia was the real, the actual world," she said, "and my own country became the dreamworld."

Pearl wrote about the realities of the only world she knew in The Good Earth. It was one of the last things she did before being finally forced out of China to settle for the first time in the United States. She was unknown and penniless with a failed marriage behind her, a disabled child to support, no prospects, and no way of telling that The Good Earth would sell tens of millions of copies. It transfixed a whole generation of readers just as Jung Changs Wild Swans would do more than half a century later. No Westerner had ever written anything like this before, and no Chinese had either.

Buck was the forerunner of a wave of Chinese Americans from Maxine Hong Kingston to Amy Tan. Until their books began coming out in the last few decades, her novels were unique in that they spoke for ordinary Asian people— "translating my parents to me," said Hong Kingston, "and giving me our ancestry and our habitation." As a phenomenally successful writer and civil-rights campaigner, Buck did more than anyone else in her lifetime to change Western perceptions of China. In a world with its eyes trained on China today, she has much to tell us about what lies behind its astonishing reawakening.

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