The Good Earth

by Pearl S. Buck

September 15, 2004 | Trade Paperback

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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 political and social upheavals of the twentieth century were but distant rumblings. 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 the last 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 an ordinary family caught in the tide of history.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 368 pages, 8.25 × 5.31 × 0.9 in

Published: September 15, 2004

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0743272935

ISBN - 13: 9780743272933

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– More About This Product –

The Good Earth

by Pearl S. Buck

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 368 pages, 8.25 × 5.31 × 0.9 in

Published: September 15, 2004

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0743272935

ISBN - 13: 9780743272933

Read from the Book

Chapter One It was Wang Lung''s marriage day. At first, opening his eyes in the blackness of the curtains about his bed, he could not think why the dawn seemed different from any other. The house was still except for the faint, gasping cough of his old father, whose room was opposite to his own across the middle room. Every morning the old man''s cough was the first sound to be heard. Wang Lung usually lay listening to it and moved only when he heard it approaching nearer and when he heard the door of his father''s room squeak upon its wooden hinges. But this morning he did not wait. He sprang up and pushed aside the curtains of his bed. It was a dark, ruddy dawn, and through a small square hole of a window, where the tattered paper fluttered, a glimpse of bronze sky gleamed. He went to the hole and tore the paper away. "It is spring and I do not need this," he muttered. He was ashamed to say aloud that he wished the house to look neat on this day. The hole was barely large enough to admit his hand and he thrust it out to feel of the air. A small soft wind blew gently from the east, a wind mild and murmurous and full of rain. It was a good omen. The fields needed rain for fruition. There would be no rain this day, but within a few days, if this wind continued, there would be water. It was good. Yesterday he had said to his father that if this brazen, glittering sunshine continued, the wheat could not fill in the ear. Now it was as if Heaven had chosen this day to wish him wel
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From the Publisher

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 political and social upheavals of the twentieth century were but distant rumblings. 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 the last 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 an ordinary family caught in the tide of history.

From the Jacket

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.

About the Author

Pearl S. Buck, June 26, 1892 - March 6, 1973 Pearl Sydenstricker Buck was an American author, best know for her novels about China. Buck was born on June 26, 1892, in Hillsboro, West Virginia, but as the daughter of Presbyterian missionaries she was taken to China in infancy. She received her early education in Shanghai, but returned to the United States to attend college, and graduated from Randolph-Macon Woman's College in Virginia in 1914. Buck became a university teacher there and married John Lossing Buck, an agricultural economist, in 1917. Buck and her husband both taught in China, and she published magazine articles about life there. Her first novel East Wind, West Wind was published in 1930. Buck achieved international success with The Good Earth, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1932. This story of a Chinese peasant family's struggle for survival was later made into a MGM film. Buck resigned from the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions after publishing an article that was critical of missionaries. She returned to the United States because of political unrest in China. Buck's novels during this period include Sons, A House Divided, and The Mother. She also wrote biographies of her father (Fighting Angel) and her mother (The Exile). She won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1938. During her career, Buck published over 70 books: novels, nonfiction, story collections, children's books, and translations from the Chinese. She also wrote under the pseudonym John Sedges.
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Editorial Reviews

Boston Transcript One need never have lived in China or know anything about the Chinese to understand it or respond to its appeal.

Bookclub Guide

Discussion Questions

1. The novel begins with Wang Lung''s expectation of rain, the daily boiling of water for his father, and his bathing for his wedding. What might this water imagery foreshadow?

2. Why does Wang Lung feel compelled to purchase the rice field from the House of Hwang? Why does he at first regret it?

3. "And so this parcel of land became to Wang Lung a sign and a symbol." What does the author mean by this?

4. Wang Lung considers the birth of his daughter to be a bad omen. How does he come to regard this girl, who grows up to become a fool?

5. As the family works and begs in the city, what do they think of the foreigners they encounter? What purpose does the author serve in including these descriptions?

6. The abundance of food in the city contrasts with the characters impoverished lives. Discuss the emotionally complex relationship Wang Lung develops with the city.

7. The poor laborers in the city lack knowledge even of what they look like, a fact illustrated by the man who mocks himself in a mirror. How does a new self-awareness come to manifest itself?

8. When Wang Lung becomes swept up with the mob and enters the rich man''s house, is the gold he receives there a curse or a blessing? Do you feel any pity for the rich man? What do you think the author intended you to feel?

9. After O-lan steals the jewels, do they function as a bad omen or good luck? Why does O-lan want to keep the two pearls? Why is Wang Lung so astonished by this? What do the pearls signify?

10. As O-lan dies, she bemoans her lack of beauty and says she is too ugly to be loved. Wang Lung feels guilty, but still cannot love her as he did Lotus. Neither woman can control destiny. Lotus was an orphan who had been sold into prostitution because she was beautiful, and O-lan had been sold as a kitchen slave because she was plain. For whom do you feel sympathy? Why?

11. Toward the end of the novel we encounter the belief that things will change "when the poor become too poor and the rich are too rich." Discuss the ambivalence of this statement -- a mixture of both hope and despair -- and how it reflects upon the whole of The Good Earth.

12. Pearl Buck wrote a first-person novel from the point of view of a Chinese man, which was controversial because she was of a different culture. What are some of the challenges of this undertaking? How might this book have been different had it been written by a Chinese person? Compare Buck''s novel to other books written by authors striving to transcend culture or gender (e.g.: Arthur Golden''s Memoirs of a Geisha, James Baldwin''s Giovanni''s Room, Wally Lamb''s She''s Come Undone).

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