It’s a Matter of Land
Years ago, a colleague recommended that I read The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck. I kept putting it off. Why? Because it’s a classic. And I was scared I wouldn’t be able to get into it and really enjoy it. Also, I was embarrassed that I have a Master’s degree in Literature yet there are so many classics that I haven’t read. I know. The only way to fight that is to just read!
Well, my fears about understanding the novel were foolish and far from true. In fact, this was a fascinating story about pre-revolutionary China and the life of one man, Wang Lung, and his progression as a poor farmer and his tie to his land. Wang Lung marries, has children, and then the land dries up, forcing him and his family to think of other possibilities for survival. Things get better, but with prosperity comes numerable problems, and cultural laws force Wang Lung to abide.
My knowledge about China is minimal, and I’m ashamed about that. All I know is the current government system is communist, but how did that come about? The Good Earth does not progress right into the historical change, but through the generation and into the children, we see how the father’s behavior has affected the sons, and how the land may not be viewed as precious anymore.
I know that Buck is an American who lived in China for many years, which allowed her the opportunity to write the novel. Once I got through the book, I realized that I haven’t read many novels set in China or by Chinese authors! I always feel ashamed when I have clearly neglected something in literature, and this novel propelled me to work on researching more stories to enjoy.