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Pearl S. Buck’s timeless masterpiece, the Pulitzer Prize–winning story of a farmer’s journey through China in the 1920s
The Good Earth
is Buck’s classic story of Wang Lung, a Chinese peasant farmer, and his wife, O-lan, a former slave. With luck and hard work, the couple’s fortunes improve over the years: They are blessed with sons, and save steadily until one day they can afford to buy property in the House of Wang—the very house in which O-lan used to work. But success brings with it a new set of problems. Wang soon finds himself the target of jealousy, and as good harvests come and go, so does the social order. Will Wang’s family cherish the estate after he’s gone? And can his material success, the bedrock of his life, guarantee anything about his soul? Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the William Dean Howells Award, The Good Earth was an Oprah’s Book Club choice in 2004. A readers’ favorite for generations, this powerful and beautifully written fable resonates with universal themes of hope and family unity. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Pearl S. Buck including rare images from the author’s estate.

Topics: Farming, Social Class, Success, Chinese History, Wealth, Family, Death, Poverty, Marriage, Survival, Inequality, Betrayal, Epic, Emotional, Domestic, Heartbreaking, China, and Rural

Published: Open Road Media an imprint of Open Road Integrated Media on Jan 1, 1958
ISBN: 9781453263563
List price: $14.99
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Excellent book on China countryside lives and the life cycle of man ..... Exciting too... read more
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Reading this is like experiencing and living out a second lifetime in old rural China.read more
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A remarkable piece of literary art. read more
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One of the great modern classics, Pearl Buck won the Pulitzer Prize for this perennial favorite. She presents a graphic view of a China during the last emperor’s. This moving story of the honest farmer Wang Lung and his selfless wife Olan is must reading for those who would fully appreciate the sweeping changes that have occurred in the lives of the Chinese people during this past centuryread more
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The story of the life of Wang Lung, a Chinese farmer, in Pre-revolutionary China. The author won the Pulitzer Prize for this novel, and the Nobel Prize in literature less than a decade later.For some reason, I’m always quite surprised when a prize-winning book lives up to its reputation. The Good Earth has a lot to live up to, but it definitely deserves all the praise. A genuinely engrossing read, and definitely one of the best novels I’ve ever read.read more
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All of Pearl Buck's books about China are recommended!read more
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Everything good you've ever heard about this book is true. Everything bad you've ever heard about it, especially from the variety of academic who hates Tolkien, is false.I didn't know this had been on Oprah's Book Club. My opinion of Oprah just went _way_ up...read more
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My sister-in-law recommended this book after she read it (having found it on one of those "100 best books you must read" lists). I must admit to not knowing much of anything about Chinese history or culture, nor about the author. So I went into this book with a clean slate in terms of expectations.The writing style is clean and simple while being complex at the same time. The sentence structures were particularly complex with very long meandering sentences. I found myself wondering if the sentence and paragraph style/structure was something of a commentary on Chinese existence as much as the plot and characters.The characters are intriguing if a little flat at some times. The main character, Wang Lung, is a vivid character with a lot of inner reflection on how life works and how things should be. His wife, O-Lan, is more distanced from us but still has vital importance and as such is very interesting.The overall story follows Wang Lung's life over many years…from late youth (his wedding) all the way through his death. There is a lot of exploration of Chinese traditions, family structures, social structures and life in general. I've read some commentary on the book that praises the accuracy of the level of detail for early 1900s China. To me it was both refreshing and enlightening to see many similarities between agrarian China and agrarian America. While there are certainly many differentiators, I found myself reflecting on books set around farm/land workers in America or Britain and finding many similarities of tone and feeling.The uniquely Chinese elements were naturally foreign to me but the author did a great job of providing adequate detail and description to help me understand them easily. I appreciated that these descriptions were not merely expository but came in through natural commentary, internal monologue or action. It enabled me to feel like I was learning something about China without sitting through a social studies lecture.The story arc certainly had its depressive and frustrating moments. It was heartbreaking to see Wang Lung's livelihood fall apart due to changes in the weather. It was harsh to see him scrape for survival. It was just as (or even more) heart wrenching to see his behavior once times changed and he was able to return to his farming and become very successful. The numerous plot twists that tore at his family made for very interesting reading. I found myself alternately feeling bad for Wang Lung and despising the things he was doing. As the pages turned, I moved between pitying him and praising him.While this isn't a book I had heard of before and isn't necessarily the type of thing I would seek out, I was glad to have it recommended and I'm glad to have read it. It is a well written book that provides an educational overview of Chinese life while being emotionally stirring and intriguing. It provides many great illustrations of the pain and suffering felt while scraping by at the edge of poverty and striving to overcome hardships…coupled with the difficulties of balancing familial respect with personal self-worth and pride. I can say that this book certainly wouldn't be for everyone. It's not offensive (at least as far as I can tell with my westernized ideals) but the content and tone could be a barrier to some readers. Comparing it to Western literature, I could see it in a similar vein with John Steinbeck or Thomas Hardy. To me, it felt similar in tone and content. If you're interested in Chinese culture and life, or find yourself intrigued by the realistic hardship of life in the late 1800s/early 1900s, give The Good Earth a try. I think you'll enjoy it.****4 out of 5 starsread more
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This was required reading in high school. I found it quite interesting to read again from an adult perspective.Much of this book enrages me - which in my opinion proves it to be well-written. It grabbed my attention and my emotions. It unfortunately didn't improve my (already much too low) opinion of men in general. I appreciate the overall message of the story despite my misgivings and find it well worth the read. (Or perhaps re-read.)read more
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"The Good Earth" is the story of Wang Lung and his family. Set in pro-revolutionary China, it tells of the struggle of a desparetly poor family and how they manage to survive.read more
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This is perhaps my most beloved book. Having read it many times, it feels like home. This is the saga of one man and his family trying to survive in China. Worthy of the Pulitzer Prize.read more
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This book was very interesting in the beginning, but toward the end it seemed that it stretched out a bit too much. The earlier chapters described some of the customs and traditions of China during that time period and were much more interesting than the ending chapters. As Wang Lung became elderly and his sons began to become independent, I found myself just wanting this story to end.read more
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This is one of Pearl S. Bucks books.Buck grew up in China amongst the Chinese people that she characterizes so well in her books. She writes of a time before WWII when Communists had not yet taken power in China. A China that no longer exists except in the memories of her elderly citizens. O-lan is a very believable character as are the others in this richly drawn novel. Buck manages to balance out the rather bigoted views that many Westerners had of Southeast Asia prior to WWII. If you like Pearl S. Buck I would also reccomend: Peony, and The Daughters of Madame Liang.read more
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I have been rereading The Good Earth by Pearl Buck. For many years this well-known novel was an unexplained void in the inventory of books that I had read. Yet, in less than two years I find myself having read and reread this amazing novel. It is amazing for several reasons, not the least of which is the deceptive simplicity of its' style. The story begins on Wang Lung's wedding day and he remains in the fore of the novel presented to the reader by the narrator as the hero of the story. However, I began to grow gradually fonder of O-lan as the story progressed. Her dedication to the marriage in almost complete silence and fortitude in both work and bearing and raising the children provided her an almost mythical aura. The most moving moments of the book come when she fights to prevent her young daughter from being sold into slavery, when she is forced to give up her pearls, and when she dies. Even in death she continued to demonstrate a stoical character that made me wonder at its power and source. Surely this was not simply the result of her determination to never return to the slavery that she endured as a youth in the great house of the Wangs.But I said that the simple style was deceptive and by that I meant that hidden in the simple every day events, and a few that were not so common, is a picture of a culture and ethos that Wang Lung and his family lived. The work ethic of Wang Lung and his devotion to the land, "the good earth", that would keep him and his family safe was part of this culture. The depth and contrasting relationships within the family and without are displayed slowly, simply, through the actions taken and events that impinge on Wang Lung.There is more to this story than these events and actions alone can account for. There is the action of fate through the impact of the cycles of the weather that lead to famine for those, like Wang Lung, dependent on the earth. The patronymic "good earth" turns ironic when the land lays fallow for lack of rain or the crops rot because of flooding. The vicissitudes of their life find the family of Wang Lung fleeing to the South to escape the famine, but they do not have the skills to successfully cope in the city where they end up begging until saved, through another turn of fate, by the war and the looting of the wealthy landowner's estate. It is this event that becomes a turning point in the lives of Wang Lung and O-lan as through their own loot of gold and jewels they are able to establish what will become a different life than the simple farm that they left when they fled to the South. It is this different life that, among other things, ultimately changes the family in ways that seem to prove the adage about the corrupting effect of power.Ultimately The Good Earth is a morality tale, a parable-like story that suggests the dreams of avarice demand that the price paid is more than the silver and gold traded for land and mistresses. While most of the story seems steeped in a combination of ancestor worship and attention to evil spirits and omens, there was one episode that I found reminiscent of a parable in the New Testament when just as O-lan is dying the eldest son is recalled to be married. The celebration upon and importance of his return can have no other antecedent than the return of the prodigal son. Perhaps that moment along with others in the closing section of the novel are precursors of changes in the future greater than any experienced by Wang Lung and his family. I do not know how true the book is to the culture of pre-revolutionary China, but I do know that the beauty of the earth and the story reward its readers.read more
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This is a beautiful novel. The main character and the family he surrounds himself with are richly imagined and given vivid detail in an intricately described society.read more
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The Good Earth is the story of a Chinese farmer, Wang Lung, and his growing family. We follow Wang Lung as he struggles for the survival of his household and his determination to hang onto the land which means more than life itself. I wanted to pinch this man's head off so many times because of his treatment of his hardworking, long-suffering wife, O'lan. I hurt for her. Page after page, we see a very patriarchal society where women are thought of as nothing more than slaves. I can't tell you how many times I groaned over the treatment of women. Beautiful, vivid language throughout the book. What an interesting and frustrating culture.read more
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Great book, great story, great satire.read more
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This is the classic from the 30's I think. It was a really good book - read it in 2 days. If you are looking for a good fiction book to read this is great. It's one I will keepread more
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Excellent book. This was a truely enjoyable read. Not only was it a great story that followed the family through several generations, but it also educated me as to the difference in our cultures. It also followed the evolution of the Chinese cultures through a time when huge changes were happening in the country.read more
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I am apprehensive about trying to review such a great book, me, a novice. Yet so much did I like it, that I must say at least that. Through the LT Early Reviewer program, I read with pleasure the book Pearl of China by Anchee Min, a novel based on Pearl Buck’s life in China. It awakened in me a need to read more by and about Ms. Buck. My library had the Reader’s Digest (not condensed) edition of The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, so I began there. In this edition’s afterward, Edward Wagenknecht sums up the story with this sentence: “…a great family declines through its own corruption while a poor family prospers, with increasing signs that it too will succumb in time to the same dry rot that toppled its predecessor…” Yes, that’s the big picture. But, the story lives in the daily lives of its people. Wang Lung, son of a farmer, loves his land, and lives his life to the rhythm of the seasons of farming. Favorable weather yields good harvests and with poor harvests come lean times. This is life. With better harvests, there is more gain, and with this gain, more land and more seed can be bought. In this way, Wang Lung slowly improves his lot. But he does not do it alone. His father finds a wife for him from among the slaves in the town’s ‘great house’. This turned out to be a good purchase, for O-Lan is a hard worker, working side by side with him in his fields, cooking meals for him and his old father, and stoically bearing his children. Their life is of the land, and when a drought brought famine, they journey to a southern city to try to maintain life til they can get back to the land – always the land, for such is the sustenance of life. Pearl Buck grew up in China, living and speaking as a native, her neighbors going through times such as she depicts here, so her story ‘lived’ for me. The story of Wang Lung covers his life from youth to old age, and though no dates are mentioned, the word ‘revolution’ does come up through some of his experiences, so altogether I’d guess the story to span from the 1910s to the 1960s. Most of the setting is Wang Lung’s village in northern China. How Ms. Buck must have loved China and its people! The landscape is treated so beautifully, the weather so realistically. And the people, too, not whitewashed, but presented as she must have seen them. You won’t be able to get through the end of it without sobbing.Deservedly, a classic.read more
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Although this book, on the surface, is about revolutionary China (and there are many place- and time-specific details), it's really a tremendously universal book about life and death and all the stuff in between. I really liked it. It feels almost Biblical in its tone and scope and distance. A very wise book.read more
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Pearl Buck's novel The Good Earth was published in 1931 and won a Pulitzer Prize in 1932. It has been surrounded by controversy (mostly in China where Buck's work was banned for many years because of the perceived vilification of the Chinese people and their leaders). Having arrived in China as the child of missionaries, Buck grew to love the country. In 1935 she returned to the United States with hope of one day returning to the Orient...but this was never to be. She was denounced by the Chinese government in 1960 as "a proponent of American cultural imperialism." Later, just nine months before her death, her visa to return to the country of her childhood was denied. In 1938 she became the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize for literature. The Good Earth is the saga of Wang Lung, who is a poor farmer dependent on the land for his survival, and his extended family. The novel begins with this complex character as a young man when he marries a slave girl, and then follows him as he grows into a man with a family and wealth beyond his imaginings. Wang Lung is a man with a compassionate heart. I was touched by the love of his children, especially that of his developmentally delayed oldest daughter who he calls "the poor fool." In one scene, the family is faced with starvation and Wang Lung gives up his own food for his daughter...something that would have been highly unusual at that time in China.Later, as he gains wealth, Wang Lung loses his path - and his inner goodness is challenged.Wang Lung's pragmatic wife O-Lan represents the strength of the Chinese women during a time when women were considered to be a man's possession and slave. Throughout the novel, the idea of the cyclical nature of life is repeated, establishing a natural rhythm for the story.Buck writes in simple prose which reads more like the oral tradition of story telling than a novel. Her understanding of character is evident throughout - and no character is all good or all evil.I immediately was captivated by Buck's story; and even though at times the abuse and mistreatment of women was hard to read, I found I could not put the book down for long.Buck wrote two sequels to The Good Earth: Sons (1931) and A House Divided (1935). I have put both on my wish list for future reading.The Good Earth is a book I can highly recommend for its insight into Chinese culture during the early part of the 20th century, and for its high readability.read more
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This book is set in China and follows the life of an honest, hard working farmer, Wang Lung, and his wife, O-Lan, through famine and then prosperity. And, in a rich and heart breaking way shows the consequences of a path from poor and simple to rich and needy.read more
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This book and Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See were my book club reads this month. I have to say I thought The Good Earth was the better of the two books. Maybe it's because my father was a farmer as was his father before him, and I really felt a connection with Wang Lung, the Chinese farmer whose life is the focus of this book. It may be that the scope of this book was larger than Snow Flower. It wasn't just a story about the women, it was the whole culture.Whatever the reason, I really got caught up in this book. The characters were interesting, especially O-lan, Wang Lung's wife, who was able to say so much with so little dialogue. And the story was simply and lovingly told. I think it will stay with me for some time.read more
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An interesting story of a number of flawed people (much as we all are) with perhaps the exception of Olan whose only fault is her lack of physical beauty. The story is basically the life of Wang Lung. Olan was largely the cause of his prosperity until the famine. Wang Lung shows a mixture of virtue (hard work, love of the land, not willing to kill) and fault (taking of his second wife, pride, concilliation to his children). Although Wang Lung becomes a rich man, it is unclear whether this is a good thing. His wealth leads to his lust and to many of the family problems. Life always leads to death regardless - each life is its own story. Who is find fault in another's life decisions. It is enough for one to try to make each current decision the best they can.read more
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This captures the mood of China and reflects on culture and class shifts and their impact on real peopleread more
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I loved this story. It was so simple and yet it was informative and compelling. Pear Buck has a way with words that kept me interested at all times. Highly recommendedread more
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Another of those books I read in HS and after reading it again, I am so glad I revisited it. I remember enjoying it in HS but now I am truly amazed and almost in love with Pearl S. Buck!This is one of the most astounding books about Chinese life, culture and values that I think has ever been written. The characters are what truly make this one amazing. I just couldn't get over O-lan. She had such a rough life -- having babies (alone), working in the fields, and then her husband takes another woman much prettier than she is. Her cry "but I have borne you sons!" is probably one of the most pathetic things I've ever read. So moving and I loved and hated all of Wang Lung's family at some point.A moving and brilliant read.read more
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A fantastic book. Takes you to another time and place. You can feel how old the land is and how long it has been worked, and how many lives have gone through that place. Life was cheap back then.read more
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Excellent book on China countryside lives and the life cycle of man ..... Exciting too...
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Reading this is like experiencing and living out a second lifetime in old rural China.
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A remarkable piece of literary art.
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One of the great modern classics, Pearl Buck won the Pulitzer Prize for this perennial favorite. She presents a graphic view of a China during the last emperor’s. This moving story of the honest farmer Wang Lung and his selfless wife Olan is must reading for those who would fully appreciate the sweeping changes that have occurred in the lives of the Chinese people during this past century
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The story of the life of Wang Lung, a Chinese farmer, in Pre-revolutionary China. The author won the Pulitzer Prize for this novel, and the Nobel Prize in literature less than a decade later.For some reason, I’m always quite surprised when a prize-winning book lives up to its reputation. The Good Earth has a lot to live up to, but it definitely deserves all the praise. A genuinely engrossing read, and definitely one of the best novels I’ve ever read.
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All of Pearl Buck's books about China are recommended!
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Everything good you've ever heard about this book is true. Everything bad you've ever heard about it, especially from the variety of academic who hates Tolkien, is false.I didn't know this had been on Oprah's Book Club. My opinion of Oprah just went _way_ up...
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My sister-in-law recommended this book after she read it (having found it on one of those "100 best books you must read" lists). I must admit to not knowing much of anything about Chinese history or culture, nor about the author. So I went into this book with a clean slate in terms of expectations.The writing style is clean and simple while being complex at the same time. The sentence structures were particularly complex with very long meandering sentences. I found myself wondering if the sentence and paragraph style/structure was something of a commentary on Chinese existence as much as the plot and characters.The characters are intriguing if a little flat at some times. The main character, Wang Lung, is a vivid character with a lot of inner reflection on how life works and how things should be. His wife, O-Lan, is more distanced from us but still has vital importance and as such is very interesting.The overall story follows Wang Lung's life over many years…from late youth (his wedding) all the way through his death. There is a lot of exploration of Chinese traditions, family structures, social structures and life in general. I've read some commentary on the book that praises the accuracy of the level of detail for early 1900s China. To me it was both refreshing and enlightening to see many similarities between agrarian China and agrarian America. While there are certainly many differentiators, I found myself reflecting on books set around farm/land workers in America or Britain and finding many similarities of tone and feeling.The uniquely Chinese elements were naturally foreign to me but the author did a great job of providing adequate detail and description to help me understand them easily. I appreciated that these descriptions were not merely expository but came in through natural commentary, internal monologue or action. It enabled me to feel like I was learning something about China without sitting through a social studies lecture.The story arc certainly had its depressive and frustrating moments. It was heartbreaking to see Wang Lung's livelihood fall apart due to changes in the weather. It was harsh to see him scrape for survival. It was just as (or even more) heart wrenching to see his behavior once times changed and he was able to return to his farming and become very successful. The numerous plot twists that tore at his family made for very interesting reading. I found myself alternately feeling bad for Wang Lung and despising the things he was doing. As the pages turned, I moved between pitying him and praising him.While this isn't a book I had heard of before and isn't necessarily the type of thing I would seek out, I was glad to have it recommended and I'm glad to have read it. It is a well written book that provides an educational overview of Chinese life while being emotionally stirring and intriguing. It provides many great illustrations of the pain and suffering felt while scraping by at the edge of poverty and striving to overcome hardships…coupled with the difficulties of balancing familial respect with personal self-worth and pride. I can say that this book certainly wouldn't be for everyone. It's not offensive (at least as far as I can tell with my westernized ideals) but the content and tone could be a barrier to some readers. Comparing it to Western literature, I could see it in a similar vein with John Steinbeck or Thomas Hardy. To me, it felt similar in tone and content. If you're interested in Chinese culture and life, or find yourself intrigued by the realistic hardship of life in the late 1800s/early 1900s, give The Good Earth a try. I think you'll enjoy it.****4 out of 5 stars
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This was required reading in high school. I found it quite interesting to read again from an adult perspective.Much of this book enrages me - which in my opinion proves it to be well-written. It grabbed my attention and my emotions. It unfortunately didn't improve my (already much too low) opinion of men in general. I appreciate the overall message of the story despite my misgivings and find it well worth the read. (Or perhaps re-read.)
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"The Good Earth" is the story of Wang Lung and his family. Set in pro-revolutionary China, it tells of the struggle of a desparetly poor family and how they manage to survive.
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This is perhaps my most beloved book. Having read it many times, it feels like home. This is the saga of one man and his family trying to survive in China. Worthy of the Pulitzer Prize.
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This book was very interesting in the beginning, but toward the end it seemed that it stretched out a bit too much. The earlier chapters described some of the customs and traditions of China during that time period and were much more interesting than the ending chapters. As Wang Lung became elderly and his sons began to become independent, I found myself just wanting this story to end.
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This is one of Pearl S. Bucks books.Buck grew up in China amongst the Chinese people that she characterizes so well in her books. She writes of a time before WWII when Communists had not yet taken power in China. A China that no longer exists except in the memories of her elderly citizens. O-lan is a very believable character as are the others in this richly drawn novel. Buck manages to balance out the rather bigoted views that many Westerners had of Southeast Asia prior to WWII. If you like Pearl S. Buck I would also reccomend: Peony, and The Daughters of Madame Liang.
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I have been rereading The Good Earth by Pearl Buck. For many years this well-known novel was an unexplained void in the inventory of books that I had read. Yet, in less than two years I find myself having read and reread this amazing novel. It is amazing for several reasons, not the least of which is the deceptive simplicity of its' style. The story begins on Wang Lung's wedding day and he remains in the fore of the novel presented to the reader by the narrator as the hero of the story. However, I began to grow gradually fonder of O-lan as the story progressed. Her dedication to the marriage in almost complete silence and fortitude in both work and bearing and raising the children provided her an almost mythical aura. The most moving moments of the book come when she fights to prevent her young daughter from being sold into slavery, when she is forced to give up her pearls, and when she dies. Even in death she continued to demonstrate a stoical character that made me wonder at its power and source. Surely this was not simply the result of her determination to never return to the slavery that she endured as a youth in the great house of the Wangs.But I said that the simple style was deceptive and by that I meant that hidden in the simple every day events, and a few that were not so common, is a picture of a culture and ethos that Wang Lung and his family lived. The work ethic of Wang Lung and his devotion to the land, "the good earth", that would keep him and his family safe was part of this culture. The depth and contrasting relationships within the family and without are displayed slowly, simply, through the actions taken and events that impinge on Wang Lung.There is more to this story than these events and actions alone can account for. There is the action of fate through the impact of the cycles of the weather that lead to famine for those, like Wang Lung, dependent on the earth. The patronymic "good earth" turns ironic when the land lays fallow for lack of rain or the crops rot because of flooding. The vicissitudes of their life find the family of Wang Lung fleeing to the South to escape the famine, but they do not have the skills to successfully cope in the city where they end up begging until saved, through another turn of fate, by the war and the looting of the wealthy landowner's estate. It is this event that becomes a turning point in the lives of Wang Lung and O-lan as through their own loot of gold and jewels they are able to establish what will become a different life than the simple farm that they left when they fled to the South. It is this different life that, among other things, ultimately changes the family in ways that seem to prove the adage about the corrupting effect of power.Ultimately The Good Earth is a morality tale, a parable-like story that suggests the dreams of avarice demand that the price paid is more than the silver and gold traded for land and mistresses. While most of the story seems steeped in a combination of ancestor worship and attention to evil spirits and omens, there was one episode that I found reminiscent of a parable in the New Testament when just as O-lan is dying the eldest son is recalled to be married. The celebration upon and importance of his return can have no other antecedent than the return of the prodigal son. Perhaps that moment along with others in the closing section of the novel are precursors of changes in the future greater than any experienced by Wang Lung and his family. I do not know how true the book is to the culture of pre-revolutionary China, but I do know that the beauty of the earth and the story reward its readers.
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This is a beautiful novel. The main character and the family he surrounds himself with are richly imagined and given vivid detail in an intricately described society.
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The Good Earth is the story of a Chinese farmer, Wang Lung, and his growing family. We follow Wang Lung as he struggles for the survival of his household and his determination to hang onto the land which means more than life itself. I wanted to pinch this man's head off so many times because of his treatment of his hardworking, long-suffering wife, O'lan. I hurt for her. Page after page, we see a very patriarchal society where women are thought of as nothing more than slaves. I can't tell you how many times I groaned over the treatment of women. Beautiful, vivid language throughout the book. What an interesting and frustrating culture.
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Great book, great story, great satire.
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This is the classic from the 30's I think. It was a really good book - read it in 2 days. If you are looking for a good fiction book to read this is great. It's one I will keep
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Excellent book. This was a truely enjoyable read. Not only was it a great story that followed the family through several generations, but it also educated me as to the difference in our cultures. It also followed the evolution of the Chinese cultures through a time when huge changes were happening in the country.
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I am apprehensive about trying to review such a great book, me, a novice. Yet so much did I like it, that I must say at least that. Through the LT Early Reviewer program, I read with pleasure the book Pearl of China by Anchee Min, a novel based on Pearl Buck’s life in China. It awakened in me a need to read more by and about Ms. Buck. My library had the Reader’s Digest (not condensed) edition of The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, so I began there. In this edition’s afterward, Edward Wagenknecht sums up the story with this sentence: “…a great family declines through its own corruption while a poor family prospers, with increasing signs that it too will succumb in time to the same dry rot that toppled its predecessor…” Yes, that’s the big picture. But, the story lives in the daily lives of its people. Wang Lung, son of a farmer, loves his land, and lives his life to the rhythm of the seasons of farming. Favorable weather yields good harvests and with poor harvests come lean times. This is life. With better harvests, there is more gain, and with this gain, more land and more seed can be bought. In this way, Wang Lung slowly improves his lot. But he does not do it alone. His father finds a wife for him from among the slaves in the town’s ‘great house’. This turned out to be a good purchase, for O-Lan is a hard worker, working side by side with him in his fields, cooking meals for him and his old father, and stoically bearing his children. Their life is of the land, and when a drought brought famine, they journey to a southern city to try to maintain life til they can get back to the land – always the land, for such is the sustenance of life. Pearl Buck grew up in China, living and speaking as a native, her neighbors going through times such as she depicts here, so her story ‘lived’ for me. The story of Wang Lung covers his life from youth to old age, and though no dates are mentioned, the word ‘revolution’ does come up through some of his experiences, so altogether I’d guess the story to span from the 1910s to the 1960s. Most of the setting is Wang Lung’s village in northern China. How Ms. Buck must have loved China and its people! The landscape is treated so beautifully, the weather so realistically. And the people, too, not whitewashed, but presented as she must have seen them. You won’t be able to get through the end of it without sobbing.Deservedly, a classic.
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Although this book, on the surface, is about revolutionary China (and there are many place- and time-specific details), it's really a tremendously universal book about life and death and all the stuff in between. I really liked it. It feels almost Biblical in its tone and scope and distance. A very wise book.
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Pearl Buck's novel The Good Earth was published in 1931 and won a Pulitzer Prize in 1932. It has been surrounded by controversy (mostly in China where Buck's work was banned for many years because of the perceived vilification of the Chinese people and their leaders). Having arrived in China as the child of missionaries, Buck grew to love the country. In 1935 she returned to the United States with hope of one day returning to the Orient...but this was never to be. She was denounced by the Chinese government in 1960 as "a proponent of American cultural imperialism." Later, just nine months before her death, her visa to return to the country of her childhood was denied. In 1938 she became the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize for literature. The Good Earth is the saga of Wang Lung, who is a poor farmer dependent on the land for his survival, and his extended family. The novel begins with this complex character as a young man when he marries a slave girl, and then follows him as he grows into a man with a family and wealth beyond his imaginings. Wang Lung is a man with a compassionate heart. I was touched by the love of his children, especially that of his developmentally delayed oldest daughter who he calls "the poor fool." In one scene, the family is faced with starvation and Wang Lung gives up his own food for his daughter...something that would have been highly unusual at that time in China.Later, as he gains wealth, Wang Lung loses his path - and his inner goodness is challenged.Wang Lung's pragmatic wife O-Lan represents the strength of the Chinese women during a time when women were considered to be a man's possession and slave. Throughout the novel, the idea of the cyclical nature of life is repeated, establishing a natural rhythm for the story.Buck writes in simple prose which reads more like the oral tradition of story telling than a novel. Her understanding of character is evident throughout - and no character is all good or all evil.I immediately was captivated by Buck's story; and even though at times the abuse and mistreatment of women was hard to read, I found I could not put the book down for long.Buck wrote two sequels to The Good Earth: Sons (1931) and A House Divided (1935). I have put both on my wish list for future reading.The Good Earth is a book I can highly recommend for its insight into Chinese culture during the early part of the 20th century, and for its high readability.
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This book is set in China and follows the life of an honest, hard working farmer, Wang Lung, and his wife, O-Lan, through famine and then prosperity. And, in a rich and heart breaking way shows the consequences of a path from poor and simple to rich and needy.
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This book and Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See were my book club reads this month. I have to say I thought The Good Earth was the better of the two books. Maybe it's because my father was a farmer as was his father before him, and I really felt a connection with Wang Lung, the Chinese farmer whose life is the focus of this book. It may be that the scope of this book was larger than Snow Flower. It wasn't just a story about the women, it was the whole culture.Whatever the reason, I really got caught up in this book. The characters were interesting, especially O-lan, Wang Lung's wife, who was able to say so much with so little dialogue. And the story was simply and lovingly told. I think it will stay with me for some time.
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An interesting story of a number of flawed people (much as we all are) with perhaps the exception of Olan whose only fault is her lack of physical beauty. The story is basically the life of Wang Lung. Olan was largely the cause of his prosperity until the famine. Wang Lung shows a mixture of virtue (hard work, love of the land, not willing to kill) and fault (taking of his second wife, pride, concilliation to his children). Although Wang Lung becomes a rich man, it is unclear whether this is a good thing. His wealth leads to his lust and to many of the family problems. Life always leads to death regardless - each life is its own story. Who is find fault in another's life decisions. It is enough for one to try to make each current decision the best they can.
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This captures the mood of China and reflects on culture and class shifts and their impact on real people
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I loved this story. It was so simple and yet it was informative and compelling. Pear Buck has a way with words that kept me interested at all times. Highly recommended
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Another of those books I read in HS and after reading it again, I am so glad I revisited it. I remember enjoying it in HS but now I am truly amazed and almost in love with Pearl S. Buck!This is one of the most astounding books about Chinese life, culture and values that I think has ever been written. The characters are what truly make this one amazing. I just couldn't get over O-lan. She had such a rough life -- having babies (alone), working in the fields, and then her husband takes another woman much prettier than she is. Her cry "but I have borne you sons!" is probably one of the most pathetic things I've ever read. So moving and I loved and hated all of Wang Lung's family at some point.A moving and brilliant read.
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A fantastic book. Takes you to another time and place. You can feel how old the land is and how long it has been worked, and how many lives have gone through that place. Life was cheap back then.
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