The Good Earth

by Pearl S. Buck

September 15, 2004 | Trade Paperback

The Good Earth is rated 4.5833 out of 5 by 12.
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

Found in: Fiction and Literature

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Reviews

Rated 3 out of 5 by from Worth Reading This book is beautifully written and is interesting, but is a bit of a depressing tale. Regardless, it's worth the read.
Date published: 2012-01-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Wonderful In It's This is a story about a farmers life in China in the olden days. I certainly learnt alot about life in China and how women were treated in those days. All is captured in this wonderful work of art no reader should be without.
Date published: 2011-04-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Published in 1931, this story is set in rural, pre-revolution China. Author Pearl S. Buck was born in the United States but moved with her family to China while she was still an infant. She lived most of her first forty years in China. This book tells the story of a poor farmer named Wang Lung. He wants to marry, yet doesn't have to money for a match maker. His father goes to the local wealthy family, the House of Hwang, and asks for a slave to be the wife for his son. From his wedding day forward, the fortunes of Wang and his new wife O-Lan change, mostly for the better. Not only does O-Lan run the house most efficiently, she also helps with the old father and with the farming. Two sets of hands in the fields lead to increased crop yields and money. As I was listening to this audio book, I wondered if Mrs. Buck had accurately presented the lives of farmers in China at that time. Several reviews that I checked confirm my impressions. Spoiler Alert The other thing that struck me about this book was how the author was able to portray the desperation of the people during the various hardships. The stoic acceptance by O-Lan of the death of her second daughter, born during the drought. I couldn't imagine what Wang went through when he took his newborn daughter from O-Lan, knowing that he would have to let her die so the rest of them could survive, but I could feel his anguish. Alert Over I loved this book. It didn't matter that it was published almost 80 years ago. It still came across as fresh material and still relevant. There are still many areas of this world where people farm and try to eke out a living. Blackstone Audio produced this audio book in 2007. It was read by Anthony Heald. Mr. Heald has a very enjoyable reading voice and it added to my enjoyment.
Date published: 2010-12-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from THE GOOD EARTH, VOL 1 THE GOOD EARTH, Vol 1 Washington Square Press, N.Y., Copyright 1931, paperback ed 2004, 358 pages The Good Earth is the 1st novel of the Good Earth trilogy and must be read before the others in order to know the characters in Vol 2 & 3 and to understand the unfolding events The novel is about Wang Lung’s love of his land which he steadily increases through honest labour and some good fortune. He eventually becomes very wealthy due to the amount of land he owns and can now rent and sell the ever increasing yields of rice and wheat. However, this increasing wealth extracts a heavy price as he drifts away from the land. He lives on the land in an earthen house, marries O’Lan and through his three sons, happily has eleven grandsons and eight grand daughters. O’Lan turns out to be a worthy choice for a wife and it is actually through her dedication and love of Wang Lung and the land that things turn out so well. Pearl introduces us to many ancient customs which to us are uncivilized and somewhat cruel: “We must have a woman who will tend the house and bear children as she works in the fields….” (p. 8); “ Because my mother binds a cloth about my feet….” (p. 248) and “ …he signed the papers for the second girl’s betrothal and the dowry was decided upon….” (p. 249) Life of a peasant farmer in remote China was very difficult (and still is in remote areas) requiring arduous hours of work on the land and the rewards for most was a bare existence but their attachment to the land was understood in perspective: “ It is the end of a family – when they begin to sell the land…Out of the land we came and into it we must go – and if you will hold your land you can live – no one can rob you of land ….If you sell the land, it is the end.” (p. 357) As Wang Lung prospers and ages, he temporarily loses this perspective and begins to love his silver and gold over the land – forgetting that which produced the silver and gold: “ This he would have done (walk on the earth bare feet) but he was ashamed lest men see him, who was no longer held a farmer…but a landowner and a rich man.” (p. 339) “Then less than ever did Wang Lung go to see his lands…it stabbed him to go alone and he was weary of labour and his bones ached….” (p, 305) This is far from a dysfunctional family for there was much love but all is not perfect, especially when Wang Lung must deal with his children alone following the death of O’Lan. There are lessons to be learned and ideals and principles to live by. Though there are references to sexual activity, at no time in any novel does Pearl Buck state it explicitly nor describe in detail such activity. I loved the novel for its simplicity, purity, family orientation, its realistic scenes and the lessons which it can teach. This novel is not so far removed from localities in present -day China and I have met Chinese who still celebrate some events in the fashion described here. Recently, a friend gave birth to a son and I couldn’t understand why the birthday was to be celebrated a month later and with dozens of red – painted eggs!
Date published: 2008-01-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Must Read Could not stess how great this book is.I try to push it on all my friends.It is the best book I have ever read.And everyone I push it on agrees...
Date published: 2008-01-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from magnificent I have just recently read and finished reading this great book. This book keeps you reading, and very interesting indeed. It compiles everything about the life of the chineese, and how their customes are followed in their society. It is sad, and it is happy, and captures everything. I would read this book again soon.
Date published: 2006-08-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Amazing read! This book pulls you into the life of a family so far away and in another time. The characters seem so real and a bond is easily created with this family. The author outlines the importance of the good earth and this family's dependence on its land to live. The book takes you through the ups and downs of a family...great read.
Date published: 2006-06-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating Within 2 weeks I have finished reading this book (The Good Earth). I couldn't wait to start on the second book (Sons), finished reading that too. I am now reading the third book (A House Divided). Need I say more? Trust me, you'll be madly drawn like I did.
Date published: 2006-02-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Good Earth I have been a voracious reader since childhood. I first read The Good Earth when I was about 10 years old. Over the past forty years I have read it a number of times and each read reveals yet another facet of the human condition, particularly that of women. I was absolutely delighted when Oprah picked this book and introduced to the general reading public the wonders of a truly great author.
Date published: 2005-01-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful Read What a fabulous book! I had no idea what to expect and was very excited to see how quickly I was pulled into the story. I had very limited knowledge of China or Chinese customs prior to reading this and learned a great deal. Not only was I enthralled with this story but I was educated as well. I would highly recommend it and have passed it on to my family members already!
Date published: 2004-12-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Worth the Read I first fell in love with this story when I saw the movie when I was much, much younger. When Oprah picked it for her bookclub, I decided to finally read the original.read And I am very glad I did. The story of Wang Lung has some very moralistic overtones, if you leave the land, bad things happen, but the true heroine of the piece is Olan. It is her struggles and matter of fact practicality about life that allow Wang Lung to succeed. It is only after Olan has gone, that he realizes exactly what she was, yet even then, he can not bring himself to love her. It's a truly brilliant book and everyone should read it.
Date published: 2004-12-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Engaging Read This is a great book that gives the reader a look into a China long gone in history and the people who inhabited it then. The book is written at a quick pace and covers a span of 6-7 decades. Very engaging read.
Date published: 2004-11-18

– 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).