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The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
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The Good Earth (edition 2005)

by Pearl S. Buck

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9,647197299 (4.06)523
Member:jldorn
Title:The Good Earth
Authors:Pearl S. Buck
Info:Pocket Books (2005), Edition: Export Ed, Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
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Work details

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

  1. 80
    Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: A Novel by Lisa See (mcenroeucsb)
    mcenroeucsb: Both are well-written novels set in late 19th/early 20th century China.
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1930s (19)
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» See also 523 mentions

English (186)  German (3)  Spanish (2)  Danish (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (194)
Showing 1-5 of 186 (next | show all)
A classic story. It is a fast read and is timeless. The relationships are well developed. Even though the story happens in China it really is one that could take place anywhere. LOVED IT. ( )
  KamGeb | May 22, 2016 |
In my mid sixties, I have finally read this classic. It was never a required book in my years of high school nor college, but I am glad I have been desiring to read some classic literature now. It truly is "literature" - "written works, esp. those considered of superior or lasting artistic merit." The Good Earth was published in 1931, written of a time around the 1920s in China when the last emperor reigned in China. Pearl Buck won the Pulitzer Prize for this novel.

Wang Lung is a farmer. The land is his security. The land becomes more and more important to him as he ages. He begins small, but fears, life's upheavals, social and political changes, destitution, lust and greed factor into how Wang Lung lives each new day. Wang Lung has a faithful, selfless wife, O-Lan. She has known hard times, struggling since she was a girl for she was sold to the "Great House of Hwang" as a girl slave.
The Good Earth is about this couple, their country, China, and the sweeping changes of both the man and the country over his lifetime. The book traces the slow rise of Wang Lung from humble peasant farmer to great landlord. He achieves this feat by gradually adding to his lands and making enormous sacrifices to retain them through hard times. Fortunes were gained and lost, horded and stolen. Times of fear, hard living, hard work, lives filled with passion, ambitions, and rewards, times of sorrow and weakness fill this novel to overflowing. The country of China then was an agrarian country so times were different. The people lived on the land and worked it to live or they lived in the towns and cities making life there. There were the poor and the wealthy with very little in between. China certainly was not a world power as it is today.

I found this to be a fine novel of its eighty-three years. It is beautifully written as the characters feel real, the emotions sadly authentic, and the life cycle ringing true no matter what country or time period we face. This family struggles falling into bad times, regains their footing, experiences poverty and wealth. There is anger between family members, love and appreciation for others. Some use others for their own gain, and sense fear and jealousy of many, be they family members or neighbors in the nearest town.

So much is encompassed in this classic novel. It is a fine piece of literature.
Awards:
Bestselling book - both 1931 and 1932
Pulitzer Prize - 1935
Howells Medal - 1935
Nobel Prize in Literature - 1938 (first American woman to win this award as well)

Pearl S. Buck was born on June 26, 1892, in Hillsboro, West Virginia. She began to publish stories and essays in the 1920s, in magazines such as The Nation, The Chinese Recorder, Asia, and The Atlantic Monthly. Her first novel, East Wind, West Wind, was published by the John Day Company in 1930. In 1931, John Day published Pearl's second novel, The Good Earth. By the time of her death in 1973, Pearl had published more than seventy books: novels, collections of stories, biography and autobiography, poetry, drama, children's literature, and translations from the Chinese. She is buried at Green Hills Farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
  lindalou924 | Apr 22, 2016 |
This book epitomizes fiction about the Chinese: there are no happy endings. So just get past that and settle down to a very well written story about life in China. ( )
  sydsavvy | Apr 8, 2016 |
The story begins on Wang Lung's wedding day and follows the rise and fall of his fortunes. The House of Hwang, a family of wealthy landowners, lives in the nearby town. As the House of Hwang slowly declines due to opium use, frequent spending, and uncontrolled borrowing, Wang Lung, through his own hard work and the skill of his wife, O-Lan, slowly earns enough to buy land from the Hwang family. O-lan delivers two sons and a girl baby, who becomes mentally handicapped as a result of severe malnutrition brought on by famine. Her father greatly pities her and calls her "Poor Fool," However, when a devastating drought arrives, the family must flee to the Southern City to find work. Wang Lung's malignant uncle offers Wang Lung silver for his possessions, including his land, but significantly less than their value. They sell their possessions, but refuse to sell the land. Wang Lung then faces the long journey south, contemplating how the family will survive walking, when he discovers that the "Fire Wagon", a newly-built train in the village, takes people south for a fee.

While in the city, O-Lan and the children turn to begging while Wang Lung pulls a rickshaw. Wang Lung's father refuses to beg, and sits appreciating the sights of the city instead. They find themselves aliens among their more metropolitan countrymen who look different and speak in a fast accent. They no longer starve, due to the one-cent charitable meals of rice gruel, but still live in abject poverty. Wang Lung longs to return to his land. When armies approach the city Wang can only work at night hauling merchandise out of fear of being conscripted. When a food riot erupts, a mob breaks into the house of a fat and fearful rich man who offers Wang Lung all of his money in exchange for his life.

Upon returning home, Wang Lung buys an ox, farm tools, and even hires servants to help him work the precious land. Using jewels O-Lan looted from the house in the city, they buy the House of Hwang's remaining land. He is eventually able to send his sons to school and apprentice one as a merchant. As Wang Lung becomes more prosperous, he buys a concubine named Lotus. O-Lan dies, but not before witnessing her first son's wedding. Wang Lung and his family move into town and rent the old House of Hwang. Wang Lung, now an old man, wants peace, but there are always disputes, especially between his first and second sons. Wang Lung's third son runs away. At the end of the novel, Wang Lung overhears his sons planning to sell the land and tries to dissuade them. They say that they will do as he wishes, but smile knowingly at each other.


[edit] Characters
Wang Lung – poor farmer and later very successful man.
O-lan – first wife, used to be a slave in the house of Hwang. A woman of few words, she is thoughtful, persuasive and wise. She is hardworking and self-sacrificing.
Wang Lung's Father – desires grandchildren to comfort him in his old age, becomes exceedingly needy and childish as the novel progresses.
The Poor Fool – first daughter and third child of O-lan and Wang Lung, she starts to grow more mentally retarded as the years go by. Wang Lung grows very fond of her.
Nung En (Eldest Son) – becomes a scholar, is most like the sons of Hwang.
Nung Wen (Younger Son) – becomes a merchant, is practical and sly. He is frugal and despises his elder brother for giving in to his wife's nagging for riches.
Eldest Son's Wife – Daughter of a grain merchant and a city woman who hates the Second Son's wife. She is brought to the house before O-lan's death and is deemed proper and fit by the dying woman. Her first child is a boy.
Younger Son's Wife – A gentle woman. Hates the first son's wife. Her first child is a girl.
Youngest Son – Runs away to become a soldier.
Youngest Daughter – Twin sister of the youngest son, betrothed to a merchant's son.
Wang Lung's Uncle –highly ranked in a band of thieves and a burden to Wang Lung; becomes addicted to opium
Uncle's Wife – becomes a friend of Lotus; also becomes addicted to opium
Uncle's Son - Wild and lazy, leads Nung En into trouble and leaves to become a soldier.
Ching – Wang Lung's faithful friend and neighbor. Dies and is buried near the entrance to the family graveyard.
Lotus – Much-spoiled concubine and former prostitute. Eventually becomes fat. Helps arrange the eldest son's wife's and youngest daughter's wedding.
Cuckoo - Formerly a slave in the house of Hwang. Becomes Madame of the tea house, eventually becomes servant to Lotus. Hated by O-lan because she was cruel to her in the Hwang House.
  bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
This book broke my heart. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 186 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Pearl S. Buckprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Heald, AnthonyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
...This was what Vinteuil had done for the little phrase. Swann felt that the composer had been content (with the instruments at his disposal) to draw aside its veil, to make it visible, following and respecting its outlines with a hand so loving, so prudent, so delicate and so sure, that the sound altered at every moment, blunting itself to indicate a shadow, springing back into life when it must follow the curve of some more bold projection. And one proof that Swann was not mistaken when believed in the real existence of this phrase was that anyone with an ear at all delicate for music would have at once detected the imposture had Vinteuil, endowed with less power to see and to render its forms, sought to dissemble (by adding a line, here and there, of his own invention) the dimness of his vision or the feebleness of his hand. -- Swann's Way, by Marcel Proust
Dedication
First words
It was Wang Lung's marriage day.
Quotations
He had no articulate thought of anything; there was only this perfect sympathy of movement, of turning this earth of theirs over and over to the sun, this earth which formed their home and fed their bodies and made their gods. The earth lay rich and dark, and fell apart lightly under the points of their hoes, Sometimes they turned up a bit of brick, a splinter of wood. It was nothing. Sometimes, in some age, bodies of men and women had been buried there, houses had stood there, had fallen, and gone back into the earth. So would also their house, sometime, return into the earth, their bodies also. Each had his turn at this earth. They worked on, moving together – together – producing the fruit of this earth – speechless in their movement together.
…he said nothing still, she looked at him piteously and sadly out of her strange dumb eyes that were like a beast’s eyes that cannot speak, and then she went away, creeping and feeling for the door because of her tears that blinded her.

Wang Lung watched her as she went and he was glad to be alone, but still he was ashamed and he was still angry that he was ashamed, and he said to himself, and he muttered the words aloud and restlessly, as though he quarreled with someone, “Well, and other men are so and I have been good enough to her, and there are men worse than I.” And he said at last that O-lan must bear it.
My house and my land it is, and if it were not for the land we should all starve as the others did, and you could not walk about in your dainty robes idle as a scholar. It is the good land that has made you something better than a farmer’s lad.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743272935, Paperback)

Pearl S. Buck's epic

Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of a China that was

-- now in a Contemporary Classics

edition.

Though more than sixty years have passed

since this remarkable novel won the Pulitzer

Prize, it has retained its popularity and become

one of the great modern classics. "I can only

write what I know, and I know nothing but China,

having always lived there," wrote Pearl Buck. In

The Good Earth she presents a graphic

view of a China when the last emperor reigned

and the vast political and social upheavals of

the twentieth century were but distant rumblings

for the ordinary people. This moving, classic

story of the honest farmer Wang Lung and his

selfless wife O-lan is must reading for those

who would fully appreciate the sweeping changes

that have occurred in the lives of the Chinese

people during this century.

Nobel Prize winner Pearl S. Buck traces the

whole cycle of life: its terrors, its passions,

its ambitions and rewards. Her brilliant novel

-- beloved by millions of readers -- is a

universal tale of the destiny of man.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:23 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Pearl S. Buck's epic Pulitzer prize-winning novel of a China that was now in a contemporary classics edition. Though more than sixty years have passed since this remarkable novel won the Pulitzer prize, it has retained its popularity and become one of the great modern classics. "I can only write what I know, and I know nothing but China, having always lived there," wrote Pearl Buck. In the Good Earth she presents a graphic view of a China when the last emperor reigned and the vast political and social upheavals of the twentieth century were but distant rumblings for the ordinary people. This moving, classic story of the honest farmer Wang Lung and his selfless wife o-lan is must reading for those who would fully appreciate the sweeping changes that have occurred in the lives of the Chinese people during this century. Nobel Prize winner Pearl S. Buck traces the whole cycle of life: its terrors, its passions, its ambitions and rewards. Her brilliant novel, beloved by millions of readers, is a universal tale of the destiny of man. Enduring literature illuminated by practical scholarship a poignant tale about the life and labors of a Chinese farmer during the sweeping reign of the country s last emperor. Each enriched classic edition includes: A concise introduction that gives readers important background information, a chronology of the author's life and work, a timeline of significant events that provides the book's historical context, an outline of key themes and plot points to help readers form their own interpretations, detailed explanatory notes, a critical analysis, including contemporary and modern perspectives on the work, discussion questions to promote lively classroom and book group interaction, a list of recommended related books and films to broaden the reader's experience. Enriched Classics offer readers affordable editions of great works of literature enhanced by helpful notes and insightful commentary. The scholarship provided in Enriched Classics enables readers to appreciate, understand, and enjoy the world's finest books to their full potential. Pulitzer Prize fiction, 1932.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 15 descriptions

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