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The Good Earth (Wsp Contemporary Classics) Paperback – 15 Sep 2004

4.6 out of 5 stars 114 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd; Washington Square Press Trade Pbk. Ed edition (15 Sept. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743272935
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743272933
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.3 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (114 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,193,057 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

"Pittsburgh Post Gazette" One of the most important and revealing novels of our time.

"The New York Times" A comment upon the meaning and tragedy of life as it is lived in any age in any quarter of the globe.

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

About the Author

Pearl S. Buck was born on June 26, 1892, in Hillsboro, West Virginia. Pearl 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. This became the bestselling book of both 1931 and 1932, won the Pulitzer Prize and the Howells Medal in 1935, and would be adapted as a major MGM film in 1937. In 1938, less than a decade after her first book had appeared, Pearl won the Nobel Prize in literature, the first American woman to do so. 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.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
could not put this book down, highly recommended
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book years ago and it has stayed with me ever since.
Originally published in 1931, it won the Pulitzer prize the following year.

The setting is in China, right before the revolution. Wang Lung is a poor farmer in a village and the book starts with his wedding to plain O-lan. They have four children together, three boys and one girl. He is a very hard working farmer and bit by bit, thanks also to O-lan's skills, he builds a fortune by buying land from the House of Hwangs's family, landowners in a nearest village whose wealth declines dramatically due to their relentless spending.

We are dipped into Chinese culture, taken from the seemingly bottomless poverty of the early days throughout the rise to wealth, only to be propelled downwards again due to a terrible draught and subsequent famine, when everything seems lost and the family has to move to the city, starting all over again.

We are reading spectators of the rise and fall and twists & turns of Wang Lung's family. Many touching episodes have moved me throughout the book, especially the ones connected with hard-working, silent, subservient O-lan and later on, the ones related to their mentally retarded baby girl.

The story is absorbing and mesmerizing, exquisitely written. Page after page, truly unforgettable. A must-read classic.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wonderful book. Ex Somerset library book. Found its way back to me from Romania.... The life of a book itself so full of life.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Cultural and social history through lens of one man's eventful life. Interesting sub theme about women's social position in Pre revolutionary china.
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Format: Paperback
I haven’t given this book any stars, because it is so good it outstrips the scope of our star system!! There is a reason that this author was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1935 and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1938; her writing is totally phenomenal.

Written in 1931, and set in the 50 years before the Cultural Revolution in China, this a story of strength and survival in a time of extreme hardship, but it is also a story of one man’s commitment to the earth he farms and his love for his family.

Wang Lung farms a small area of land growing wheat and corn and a little rice; the life is hard and he is responsible for his elderly father who is ailing and unable to work. In order to reduce his workload, he decides to take a wife who will free him from domestic duties and the care of his father. His father goes to the great house of the Hwang family to ask if there is a slave available for marriage. His stipulations are that she should not be pretty as then she would not be willing to work in the house and in the fields and to bear strong sons. The arrangement is made and Wang Lung marries O-lan who has been a kitchen slave since childhood. She is large, plain and to Wan Lung’s disappointment, her large feet have not been bound. However, she does not have a hare-lip, is quiet and submissive and is described as not being clever. Whilst there is nothing romantic about this union Wang Lung has thought to buy O-lan some fresh peaches to eat on the way home.

Once the couple arrive home there is a small celebration with Wang Lung’s uncle and family and a couple of neighbouring farmers. It is O-lan’s first job to prepare the food for the feast.
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By jd on 29 April 2017
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Beautifully written
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Format: Paperback
I also came to Pearl Buck via Hilary Spurling's excellent biography, Burying The Bones: Pearl Buck in China, and for those interested in Buck's life and experiences in China, it makes for a perfect counterpart to this novel. The novel reading experience is enhanced, I think, by a more detailed knowledge of China at the time.

The Good Earth is, on the surface, a simple novel about simple people. A small cast of characters and the development of a family through several generations are revealed through the eyes of farmer Wang Lung. The earth of the title is the lifeblood of the farmer: "this earth which formed their home and fed their bodies and made their gods.... Each had his turn at this earth." In times of flood and drought, the cyclical disasters that revisit Wang Lung, he is forced to give up everything and must even abandon his home and move his family south; but he will not relinquish his land. Bands of marauders may strip his home bare, yet the land is "that which cannot be taken away ... it is mine."

O-Lan is Wang Lung's wife, a servant purchased from a town family: the only bride a poor farmer could hope for. She is, to Wang Lung, a "faithful, speechless serving maid ... he was ashamed of his own curiosity and of his interest in her. She was, after all, only a woman." The reader will perceive her as a power of goodness, honesty and silent strength. She is thrifty, adept, and hard-working, hoeing the fields side by side with her husband, bearing her children alone, and never complaining. Together with their land, prudence and hard work, the couple raise a family and slowly become rich.

The material comfort that money brings the family is cold.
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