| About The Author:|
Pearl Comfort Sydenstricker was born on June 26, 1892, in Hillsboro, West Virginia. Her parents were Southern Presbyterian missionaries, most often stationed in China, and from childhood, Pearl spoke both English and Chinese. She returned to China shortly after graduation from Randolph-Macon Woman's College in Lynchburg, Virginia, in 1914, and the following year, she met a young agricultural economist named John Lossing Buck. They married in 1917, and immediately moved to Nanhsuchou in rural Anhwei province. In this impoverished community, Pearl Buck gathered the material that she would later use in The Good Earth and other stories of China.
From the Publisher:
BY PRACTICAL SCHOLARSHIP
A poignant tale about the life and labors of a Chinese farmer during the sweeping reign of the countryÂ¹s last emperor.
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
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
SERIES EDITED BY CYNTHIA BRANTLEY JOHNSON
Pearl Buck (1892-1973) wrote THE GOOD EARTH in three months, based on her observations of Chinese life and culture while she lived in China as the daughter of American missionaries. In the novel, Buck tells the story of a simple, traditional small-farmer, Wang Lung, whose highest priority is the land he farms himself with his wife, O-lan. Throughout, Wang Lung's family is contrasted to the wealthy and decadent Huangs, whose tie to the precious land has long been cut: they hire outsiders to do their farming and devote themselves to luxury. As the years go by, Wang Lung prospers as the corrupt Huangs decline--but by novel's end, he has become more like them, and his own children fall into the traps that wealth sets: leisure, opium, and a lack of respect for the good earth. Through Wang Lung and his family, Buck depicts the changes that were taking place in Chinese culture in the early 20th century. One interesting element of the novel is her attitude toward missionaries which, despite her background, is highly critical of their detachment from the people they are there to serve. Another is the description of foot-binding, a torturous practice indulged in mainly by the wealthy. Buck understands its origins and its importance to the Chinese, but it is clear that when O-lan, herself risen from poverty and therefore with unbound feet, decides to bind the feet of her daughter, the family has truly succumbed to the debased values of the wealthy. THE GOOD EARTH won the Pulitzer Prize when it was published, and Buck received the Nobel Prize in 1938, largely on the strength of this powerful novel.