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The Good Earth (2005)

The Good Earth (2005)

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3.95 of 5 Votes: 4
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1416500189 (ISBN13: 9781416500186)
simon & schuster

About book The Good Earth (2005)

There is a gush of red, marvelous, and mysterious blood running through my veins. I am part Chinese. A race that has given me these small eyes and this yellowish complexion. A race that I have associated with frugality, hard work, mass production, internet restrictions, and Jackie Chan. China, I've only been there once as a tourist when I was a bit younger. And as much as I'd like to think that I am familiar with the Chinese culture, I have to admit that my knowledge about that is limited and my views about them a bit stereotypical. My Grandma, the real Chinese in the family, still brings Moon Cakes during the Chinese New Year and we do maintain fireworks when celebrating. We also drink herbal tea at home and have this uncanny favoritism for Chinese restaurants during family get-togethers. Aside from that, you could say that I'm really much more familiar with Filipino and Western cultures. So when I picked up this book, I didn't know what to expect. My only assurances were that it won the Pulitzer Prize and the author is a Nobel Prize winner. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck is a beautiful and sweeping story of farmer Wang Lu and his wife O-lan. The Land, the man, and their bond. This beautiful tale left me thirsty and craving for knowledge about this race that resides within me yet has not fully manifested itself. This may sound fancy but I have to say what I feel. This book made me fall in love with China, the Chinese culture, my Chinese roots.“And roots, if they are to bear fruits, must be kept well in the soil of the land.” The beauty of this sweeping tale can be understood by hearing its voice, its message. It whispers an earnest plea of the oldest kind, it whispers "Remember the land." The land which has provided for your father, your father's father, and countless generations before him. In this age of technology, internet, GMOs and fast foods, we forget the land. We ignore the Good Earth that has sustained the lives of everyone before us, and lives of this generation. "If you sell the land it is the end. And his two sons held him, one on either side, each holding his arm, and he held in his hand the warm loose earth. And they soothed him and they said over and over, the elder son and the second son,Rest assured, our father, rest assured. The land is not to be sold.But over the old man's head they looked at each other and smiled." This book, written in the year 1931, exposes a problem that has continually been growing worse as each generation progresses. Each son telling his father "the land will not be sold" but inwardly smiling at this statement he knows to be untrue. Each son, each daughter, each generation, saying we will save this good earth. But for every tree he plants, he cuts down two more. For every bottle she recycles, she throws out two more. For every plot turned into a garden, there are two plots turned into garbage dumps. Each man, woman, son, daughter thinking about their self, their success apart from the land. They forget that their success lies with the land. They forget the Earth that has been good to them. “Wang Lung sat smoking, thinking of the silver as it had lain upon the table. It had come out of the earth, this silver, out of the earth that he ploughed and turned and spent himself upon. He took his life from the earth; drop by drop by his sweat he wrung food from it and from the food, silver."This book touches a lot of other social issues like Feminism, Slavery, Concubinage, Civil Wars, etc. I will not discuss much of these issues and will only say in passing that a different culture enabled them to see nothing wrong with things we in modern times would consider abhorrent and terrifying. Things like selling daughters, feet-binding, polygamy aren't limited to China as these practices can also be found in other Asian countries. But I marvel at how Mrs. Buck was able to make it feel natural despite all these cultural differences. She effected a normalcy on these weird practices that I didn't once think that I was unfamiliar with them. This speaks of her grace and her skill as a writer. She writes with a natural grace and an earnest plea. I am engrossed by her writing, her message, her book. The Good Earth is a timeless, moving story that depicts the sweeping changes that have occurred not only in the lives of the Chinese people during the last century, but also of everyone who has walked a part of this good earth. She traces the whole cycle of life: its terrors, its passions, its ambitions, its rewards. Her beloved and brilliant novel is a universal tale of the destiny of mankind. "Out of the Land we came and into it we must go."

Treasure of the Rubbermaids 6: Made in ChinaThe on-going discoveries of priceless books and comics found in a stack of Rubbermaid containers previously stored and forgotten at my parent’s house and untouched for almost 20 years. Thanks to my father dumping them back on me, I now spend my spare time unearthing lost treasures from their plastic depths.I bitch about having to mow my lawn, but when I’m done, I usually sit on my deck and have a few ice cold beers. Then I take a hot shower and get in my car to go to the grocery store where I buy a cart full of food without giving it a second thought. Chinese farmer Wang Lung (I wanted to type Wang Chung there. Damn you ‘80s!) spends all day doing back breaking labor in his own fields and there’s still barely enough food to keep from starving. His big reward is a cup of hot water in the morning with maybe a few tea leaves in it on special occasions, and he sponges himself off with hot water every couple of months whether he needs it or not. So maybe I shouldn’t complain about walking around behind a power mower for an hour or two a week during the summer?The book begins on Wang Lung’s wedding day. His bride, O-Lan, is a slave in the great house of his town, and they’ve never met. He splurges by taking a bath, buying her a couple of peaches, and getting a little pork and meat for their wedding feast which O-Lan prepares. For a honeymoon, they go work in the fields together. This whole section made me laugh thinking about the women on those reality wedding shows like Bridezillas.Wang Lung and O-Lan make a good couple. They’re both hard working and she soon bears him sons which is kind of important to the Chinese. (And she returns to the fields right after giving birth with no assistance. O-Lan is a dream client for an HMO.) Together their family will go through bad times including droughts and famine, but O-Lan’s steady nature and Wang Lung’s farming skills eventually bring them prosperity.The one thing that sets Wang Lung apart from other farmers is his constant desire to acquire new land. Part of this is pride, but Wang Lung realizes that owning good farm land is the key to providing the necessary cushion to keep from starving during bad years. Plus, he genuinely loves working his crops and bringing them to harvest. His fierce love of the land is the one constant in his life, but he obviously never went through a real estate crash. (Diversify, Wang Lung! Diversify!)This book works on a lot of levels. As a depiction of a culture that little was known about when it was published, it’s fantastic. I liked how Buck never comments or judges on things that are kind of horrifying like selling girls for slaves or binding their feet, but treats them as just the way things are to all the characters. She just let the facts speak for themselves. It’s also works as a family drama with trials and tribulations worthy of a soap opera. You could also read it as a plain old rags-to-riches success story. Despite being set in a time and place so alien to me, the characters still seem very real and relatable despite the cultural differences. Wang Lung doesn’t seem that different from any modern American farmer I’ve known. I think it must be universal that farmers everywhere like to gather and shoot the shit whether it’s at a Chinese tea house or a diner in Kansas.And when a successful Wang Lung experiences a mid-life crisis and falls for a younger woman, you realize that it’s no different from any modern guy divorcing the wife who stood by him for years. It’s just that the sports car hasn’t been invented yet so Wang Lung can’t go buy one.This is one of those classics that has an easily readable style and a compelling story that still seems fresh even though it was published over 70 years ago.

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Despite the stupid Oprah Book Club sticker on the front, I loved this book. It has special meaning for me as it is the first book my mom recommended to me as an adult. Just before I was married, I was out shopping with my Mom. She saw this book, put it in my hand and said "You should have this." Reading, I couldn't help but think of how it came to me. It really made me think about marriage, and what it means to be a partnership in the face of hardship. It may seem like a sad, hard thing to show to someone entering a marriage, but I think it made me more grateful for my relationship, more in awe of marriages that last decades. Of course there are other things there, too: Sacrifice, ambition, loyalty. I carry O-Lan with me, and remember her in strange and quiet moments.

This is almost spiritual in it's beauty and simplicity. First published by Pearl Buck in 1931, this later won the Pulitzer Prize and had a significant affect on Buck’s winning the Nobel Prize for literature in 1938.The author displayed her genius ability to observe and relate the cultural and day-to-day lives of Chinese peasants at the turn of the century. This American Christian missionary told the story of a rural Chinese man and perceptively embraced vast cultural differences, while at the same time telling a story that is universal in its relevance.A wonderful book, should be on a short list of books that should be read in a lifetime.

When the earth suffers, women suffer-- when women suffer the earth suffers. I think this is what Buck captured so beautifully in her book. She is a brilliant feminist writer!Through her character O-lan, Buck makes the argument that all of man's (in the story Wang-lung)increase and prosperity comes because of his reliance on the "good earth", which refers not only to his land but also to his good woman. Without his woman he would have had none of the prosperity he enjoys! The tragedy is that he doesn't appreciate what he has and the woman suffers. My heart just ached for O-lan and she reminded me that so many woman in the world live similar lives. So many women bring forth fruit, raise it and cultivate it, in silence. They are trampled on, destroyed and unappreciated.Life would cease to exist without the earth, just as life would cease to exist without women.

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