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Paperback The Good Earth Book

ISBN: 0743272935

ISBN13: 9780743272933

The Good Earth

(Book #1 in the House of Earth Series)

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Book Overview

Nobel Laureate Pearl S. Buck's epic Pulitzer Prize-winning novel and Oprah Book Club selection about a vanished China and one family's shifting fortunes. Though more than seventy years have passed since this remarkable novel won the Pulitzer Prize, it has retained its popularity and become one of the great modern classics. In The Good Earth Pearl S. Buck paints an indelible portrait of China in the 1920s, when the last emperor reigned and the vast...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

A PULITZER PRIZE WINNING MASTERPIECE...

This 1932 Pulitzer Prize winning novel is still a standout today. Deceptive in its simplicity, it is a story built around a flawed human being and a teetering socio-economic system, as well as one that is layered with profound themes. The cadence of the author's writing is also of note, as it rhythmically lends itself to the telling of the story, giving it a very distinct voice. No doubt the author's writing style was influenced by her own immersion in Chinese culture, as she grew up and lived in China, the daughter of missionaries. This is the story of the cyclical nature of life, of the passions and desires that motivate a human being, of good and evil, and of the desire to survive and thrive against great odds. It begins with the story of an illiterate, poor, peasant farmer, Wang Lung, who ventures from the rural countryside and goes to town to the great house of Hwang to obtain a bride from those among the rank of slave. There, he is given the slave O-lan as his bride. Selfless, hardworking, and a bearer of sons, the plain-faced O-lan supports Wang Lung's veneration of the land and his desire to acquire more land. She stays with him through thick and thin, through famine and very lean times, working alongside him on the land, making great sacrifices, and raising his children. As a family, they weather the tumultuousness of pre-revolutionary China in the 1920s, only to find themselves the recipient of riches beyond their dreams. At the first opportunity, they buy land from the great house of Hwang, whose expenses appear to be exceeding their income. With the passing of time, Wang Lung buys more and more land from the house of Hwang, until he owns it all, as his veneration of the land is always paramount. With O-lan at this side, his family continues to prosper. His life becomes more complicated, however, the richer he gets. Wang Lung then commits a life-changing act that pierces O-lan's heart in the most profoundly heartbreaking way. As the years pass, his sons become educated and literate, and the family continues to prosper. With the great house of Hwang on the skids, an opportunity to buy their house, the very same house from where he had fetched O-lan many years ago, becomes available. Pressed upon to buy that house by his sons, who do not share Wang Lung's veneration for the land and rural life, he buys the house. The country mice now have become city mice. This is a potent, thematically complex story, brimming with irony, yet simply told against a framework of mounting social change. It is a story that stands as a parable in many ways and is one that certainly should be read. It illustrates the timeless dichotomy between the young and the old, the old and the new, and the rich and the poor. It is no wonder that this beautifully written book won a Pulitzer Prize and is considered a classic masterpiece. Bravo!

A PROFOUND STORY SIMPLY TOLD...

This 1932 Pulitzer Prize winning novel is still a standout today. Deceptive in its simplicity, it is a story built around a flawed human being and a teetering socio-economic system, as well as one that is layered with profound themes. The cadence of the author's writing is also of note, as it rhythmically lends itself to the telling of the story, giving it a very distinct voice. No doubt the author's writing style was influenced by her own immersion in Chinese culture, as she grew up and lived in China, the daughter of missionaries. This is the story of the cyclical nature of life, of the passions and desires that motivate a human being, of good and evil, and of the desire to survive and thrive against great odds. It begins with the story of an illiterate, poor, peasant farmer, Wang Lung, who ventures from the rural countryside and goes to town to the great house of Hwang to obtain a bride from those among the rank of slave. There, he is given the slave O-lan as his bride. Selfless, hardworking, and a bearer of sons, the plain-faced O-lan supports Wang Lung's veneration of the land and his desire to acquire more land. She stays with him through thick and thin, through famine and very lean times, working alongside him on the land, making great sacrifices, and raising his children. As a family, they weather the tumultuousness of pre-revolutionary China in the 1920s, only to find themselves the recipient of riches beyond their dreams. At the first opportunity, they buy land from the great house of Hwang, whose expenses appear to be exceeding their income. With the passing of time, Wang Lung buys more and more land from the house of Hwang, until he owns it all, as his veneration of the land is always paramount. With O-lan at this side, his family continues to prosper. His life becomes more complicated, however, the richer he gets. Wang Lung then commits a life-changing act that pierces O-lan's heart in the most profoundly heartbreaking way. As the years pass, his sons become educated and literate, and the family continues to prosper. With the great house of Hwang on the skids, an opportunity to buy their house, the very same house from where he had fetched O-lan many years ago, becomes available. Pressed upon to buy that house by his sons, who do not share Wang Lung's veneration for the land and rural life, he buys the house. The country mice now have become city mice. This is a potent story, brimming with irony, yet simply told against a framework of mounting social change. It is a story that stands as a parable in many ways and is one that certainly should be read. It illustrates the timeless dichotomy between the young and the old, the old and the new, and the rich and the poor. It is no wonder that this beautifully written book won a Pulitzer Prize and is considered a classic masterpiece. Bravo!

Authentic Chinese story - I can't believe she was American!

While reading this book, I was totally struck by the honest and compassionate way Pearl Buck told her story. Born and raised in China, I can see my great grandparents in Wang Lung and his wife O-Lan, although in the end they didn't make it to the riches but stayed in the middle class among farmers and had put all their kids through schools which was the first ever in their village. What I love most about this book is that it shows the Westerners what life was REALLY like in rural China at the turn of the century instead of the usual stereotype or common cliche. In that sense, Pearl Buck was more Chinese than Chinese, for Amy Tan, Dai SiJie and the alike are just commercial writers in my opinion, who more or less only wrote what they thought would sell. The book itself is certainly well written too. It's as if walking through a living museum of the past and one could vividly envision what Wang Lung and O-Lan had gone through as the story unfolds. Pearl Buck used simple yet powerful narrative language in which I felt Wang Lung's pain, suffering, ambition, agony, pride and all sorts of emotions and couldn't help but empathized with him as a human being.There are also small things that delighted me in Perl Buck's writing. To name just one, she had faithfully translated the characters' dialogs into English and I have to say you can't get more authentic than that. For example, she used moon for month, old head for old man, etc., and those are exactly how we say in Chinese, literally.It's a pity that neither in the US nor in China Pearl Buck is recognized or respected as much as she should have been. Though I went to Nanjing University where Pearl Buck had taught for years in China, little have I heard of her until just now, after finishing the Good Earth. Then I found that she also did a lot of humanitarian work in addition to writing after her return to the US, including pushing for the legalization of interracial/international adoptions that now has benefited so many families. I would recommend Camel XiangZi by Lao, She ( Original in Chinese and translation in English available) which is the tale of a urban pedicab driver in the same era if you enjoy the Good Earth. I think the two authors have similar styles in story-telling.

Wonderful book, but a lure to "impractical" studies

I first read this book when I was about 14 years old, loved it, and went on in high school to read every Pearl Buck novel I could get my hands on. However, I want to warn potential young readers that too many Pearl Buck novels read at an impressionable age can lead one to major in an "impractical" subject in college, like Chinese Literature, rather than a more lucrative field like computer programming or engineering! :) This advice comes from someone with a 1987 B.A. in East Asian Studies--a wonderful, fascinating discipline, but not the one I have stayed in to earn a living. Still, my life is richer for having encountered the works of Lu Xun (short stories, which I read in the originals) and Dai Hou Ying (Stones of the Wall, which I read in the translation by F. Wood), etc., works which I would recommend to readers who enjoy Pearl Buck novels.

Good stuff, yo!

The Good Earth, is about Wang Lung's plights with the earth. Many other things occupy Wangs life, but the earth is his main concern. He works the land as his father did before him. When famine strikes Wang Lungs land, he and his family are forced to go south for the winter. They have to work hard and beg all winter, and if they had not been so lucky as to be at the city when a revolution was occurring, which enabled them to loot the rich mans house, they might still be very poor. His new found riches gave him the ability to buy for himself a concubine from a teahouse in town. This started Wang Lungs Downward spiral. I thought this book was very good. It was like a window into the Chinese culture. My favorite part of the book was when Wang-Lung says to the old teacher in regard to his boys that he is sending to school, "So if you would like to please me, beat them." I also think that The Good Earth is indispensable to any person that fancies himself well read. I think that because of what I said previously about it being a window to the Chinese culture.
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