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The Good Earth (House of Earth #1)

3.96  ·  Rating Details  ·  178,498 Ratings  ·  7,430 Reviews
Wang Lung, rising from humble Chinese farmer to wealthy landowner, gloried in the soil he worked. He held it above his family, even above his gods. But soon, between Wang Lung and the kindly soil that sustained him, came flood and drought, pestilence and revolution....

Through this one Chinese peasant and his children, Nobel Prize-winner Pearl S. Buck traces the whole cycle

Audio CD, Unabridged., 0 pages
Published September 1st 1992 by Recorded Books, LLC (first published 1931)
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Kat Solheim Tanvir Ahmed, I'm sorry, but I must disagree with Kenny Fisher. This cannot be compared to ear piercing! The foot was not just wrapped to keep it from…moreTanvir Ahmed, I'm sorry, but I must disagree with Kenny Fisher. This cannot be compared to ear piercing! The foot was not just wrapped to keep it from growing. The bones were actually broken so as to fold the foot in half, bringing the ball of the foot to the heel of the foot. I know, it doesn't even seem possible, but after reading a novel that talked a lot about it, I decided to research it. It's actually pretty horrifying. It was used to make the foot more "attractive", but it also had a hobbling effect. The women literally could not run or move quickly at all. It's gross, but if your stomach can take it, you should look it up.(less)
Felicity Barron Pearl S. Buck spent most of her life in China so she thoroighly understood how society worked there. She used this book to try to show Americans what…morePearl S. Buck spent most of her life in China so she thoroighly understood how society worked there. She used this book to try to show Americans what life was like in pre-revolutionary China, and how an ordinary Chinese person at this time's perspectives. To present the cultural differences and similarities between the intended Westerner reader and the Chinese characters was the purpose. The characters were meant to be an accurate representation of a Chinese man, but some Chinese-Americans disputed it's accuracy and said she got it wrong. Many people believe her critics were just upset that China was painted in such a bad light though and that this book was spot on. So in answer to your question, they were supposed to be credible.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Celeste Ng
Feb 22, 2010 Celeste Ng rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It's difficult for me to explain how much I hate this book, and even harder to explain why. I don't think it's just because I hated the main character so much, and in this case at least, I don't think it's because of the weirdness that arises from a Westerner writing about a colonized country.

I do know that *part* of my intense dislike for this book comes from how it is viewed by other people (usually non-Chinese). Read the reviews and you'll see one word come up over and over again: "portrait."
Jr Bacdayan
Sep 25, 2015 Jr Bacdayan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Books Ring Mah Bell

Dec 04, 2013 k.wing rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I really, really wish I hadn't google-searched 'foot binding' after reading this book.

In the tradition of a beloved college professor, I give The Good Earth a subtitle which reveals more of the moral stuff which fills it. Ahem. :
The Good Earth: Mo' Money, Mo' Problems.

The Good Earth is packed with cautionary tales of wealth and idleness, tradition and progression, and lust. Wow, the character studies one could do in this book! Just things I noticed:

- The very thing Wang Lung detested, O-lan's
Sep 12, 2007 Lucy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Written by Pearl S. Buck, an American citizen who spent most of her childhood and much of her adult life in China, in 1931. It was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1932. I've heard much about it, mostly about a moment in the story when a woman gives birth and then goes back to work in the fields the same day, and have wanted to read it for quite some time.

I think it's always intimidating to read a classic. They are usually reserved for English classes or intellectuals and I worry that my understand
Henry Avila
Oct 14, 2015 Henry Avila rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wang Lung on his wedding day gets up at dawn as usual, a poor Chinese farmer's son, who lives with his widowed old father, but is a very hardworking, strong, and ambitious young man, they occupy, a three room house made of dirt bricks, with a straw thatched roof. After getting his ill father hot water, feeding the ox and doing the rest of the chores, Wang for the second time in the year, takes a bath secretly, with the precious water , ashamed to waste it, for such an unnecessary thing, hiding f ...more
Apr 02, 2016 Lyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 sa
Treasure of the Rubbermaids 6: Made in China

The 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
Peter Tieryas
Dec 04, 2013 Peter Tieryas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this to be an incredibly moving and humanistic story, full of anger, tragedy, joy, and the elements that make for a great novel. I don't view it as a "Chinese" novel per se, but a story any person in any country can relate to. The writing is beautiful and reads like a parable more than straight documentation or history, which was her intent, and a tribute to many of the old Chinese tales I've read (now reading it at an older age, I see a lot of references and tributes to other Chinese wo ...more
Jan 01, 2016 Jeana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 03, 2014 Adrienne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't put this book down. It was very informative about pre-revolutionary Chinese culture. But even more than that, it was an interesting emotional journey. In the beginning, Wang Lung's character seems so simple and kinda static, albeit respectable. But as the novel progresses, his character becomes more and more complex, more and more human. It was hard for me to really define my opinion of him when it was all over. It wasn't as simple as just hating him because there was also a part of h ...more
Aug 12, 2008 Heather rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 d
Jan 11, 2008 Joshua rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very unsentimental look at life in rural, pre-revolutionary China. Though she is American, Pearl Buck maintains an objective stance regarding Chinese cultural practices from the time, including foot-binding and the enslavement of women. Yet one encounters the unspoken torment of countless generations of women. The wife O-Lan is particularly well-drawn; in her rough-hewn features and ox-like devotion to the earth, the reader intimately feels her tragic solitude.

In Chinese society, she
I noticed right away when I began the book that Pearl S. Buck's writing style was special. The language is simple and clear, but at the same time emotive. There isn't a wasted word. There is a quietness in the lines that fills you with emotion. You watch a traditional, hard-working family, one very much tied to the soil, struggling to make something of themselves. The historical details are diffuse; I would guess that the story is set in the first decades of the 1900s. The book was published in ...more
I probably would never have picked this book up had it not been chosen by a friend for a group read. Honestly, I don't go for Chinese lit very much, but I agreed to read this one, even though I was prepared to be bored at least. But I downloaded the audio version, read by Anthony Heald, and listened to the book while doing some much needed organizational stuff, and it was surprisingly good. I enjoyed the reading so much that I would sometimes stop doing stuff to just listen.

I think that had I r
Nice touches on the struggles and resilience required of rural families in early 20th century China, but overall all this saga was too much of a morality tale for me. We follow a poor farmer, Wang Lung, as he is steered by his elderly father to buy a slave for a wife, O-Lan. She is a quiet saint and applies her hard work to help them make a success of their farm and delivery several children by herself.

The following schematic plot summary can benefit the potential reader with an idea of the boo
Sep 30, 2007 LeAnn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers of classics
I have to start by saying that I'm glad that I didn't know anything about this book or read any of the reviews first. It's nice not to be influenced sometimes, especially as some of what I see as worthwhile qualities other people don't. For instance, I appreciated the pace of the book. I wouldn't have said that it was "too long and wordy" as I've read in other reviews, but then I know that literary styles and tastes change and this book was written nearly 100 years ago.

I also had no problem with
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
The first time I read this book I was thirteen years old. All I remembered about it was that it was about a Chinese farmer and I liked it. This second time through I could see how so much went past me when I read it as a youth with no life experience. Now, as a grown-up, I was able to appreciate the depth of the characters' feelings and the storytelling gifts of Pearl Buck. The book was first published in 1931, but it's written in what could almost be termed a classical style. The great beauty o ...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
How must you live your life?

This is a novel with a plot replete with startling developments and a female character—the farmer’s wife O-lan—who stood out heroically even though she had spoken maybe less than a dozen words in the entire novel.

One should live life treating what is unsaid as just as important as what has been said.
Alice Poon
Mar 27, 2016 Alice Poon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: asia-themed
This is a quietly told story of a Chinese farmer's life in the pre-revolution days. My feeling is that I liked it a lot, but not enough to rate it a full 4 stars (the rating would be 3.7 stars).

It is a heartfelt account of life in the grassroots society of that era, with its own epoch-relevant values, superstitions, class distinction and sexist attitude, not any dissimilar to that depicted in other Chinese literary works relating to that era (Ba Jin's The Family, Autumn, Spring comes to mind). W
Jul 03, 2015 thewanderingjew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had forgotten most of the tale until I picked it up again to reread and I am overwhelmed by the hardship and futility of the lives of the characters. Their hopelessness coupled with their fortitude, that often goes unrewarded, is devasting. The writing appears almost simplistic but the message is so profound. As I read I am aware of the seeds that are being planted for the Cultural Revolution. The poverty and ignorance led to so much jealousy and greed.
Sometimes the book frightens me because
Feb 16, 2016 Versha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2016
Usually before starting any book I make sure to read the blurb or at least few reviews. But for ‘The Good Earth’ i didn’t even try to read either, which actually turned out to be a plus point for me because if i had read i wouldn’t have picked it up for sure. I picked it on a friend’s recommendation, i wanted to read a good book with good writing and she promised me it was one of those and she was absolutely right. Now I am glad for having read this.

This is a simple book on a simple man, but
Oct 14, 2014 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've heard of this book for years & am glad I finally got around to listening to it. Not bad, although not quite what I was expecting. To start, it's told in the fashion of a fable, even though it's set around 1900 in China. The narrative was simplified to exclude many details, the most glaring of which is there seems to be no taxation or government oversight of any sort. That detracted from the attempts at realism.

I really liked & empathized with the love of & importance of the land
This is an engaging family history, and the way an unsympathetic character mellows is well done. However, the fact that Buck's parents were missionaries is demonstrated by a dated writing style that is reminiscent of the King James Bible. Although not preachy in content, I found the tone increasingly incongruous and irritating, though I was still keen to read to the end of the story.

It tells of Wang Lung's life from young adulthood till old age, in rural China before the second world war, though
Adam Crossley
Oct 28, 2014 Adam Crossley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Have you experienced great and surprising changes over the course of your life?

The Good Earth follows Wang Lung and his family as they make a surprising journey through the 20th century, from impoverished farmers to wealthy landowners. Wang Lung’s success is rooted in the hard work of his silent but loyal wife O-lan, who he underappreciates. The story captures the entire arc of Wang Lung’s life and as a by-product captures much of the fascinating history of China during this time period.

One thi
Andy Burkhardt
Feb 02, 2009 Andy Burkhardt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This books was very Taoist in my opinion. It showed the waxing and waning of life. When things got really bad they started to get better. When things were good, there were always problems. It is a great look at not just Pre-Revolutionary China, but life in general.
Jun 12, 2007 Sammy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: b-the-good
Okay, after Anna Karenina, Oprah and her Book Club owed me (and most likely the rest of the Book Club members) big time. Perhaps that's why she chose The Good Earth as the next book for the infamous group to read. I can say that I am officially pardoning Oprah of any wrong-doing with Anna thanks to this new book. This book could easily have been a boring and uninteresting read, but Pearl S. Buck writes in such an amazingly simplistic manner that somehow you are immediately sucked in.

It helps to
colleen the fabulous fabulaphile
2 1/2

I bounced between 2 and 3 stars, finally deciding to just meet it half-way.

As I said in the comments of one of my statuses, I found parts of the book interesting, but I didn't really enjoy it, per se. It wasn't as boring as I thought it might be, and that was good, but I also had a hard time connecting with the characters, especially because Wang Lung isn't particularly likable half the time, even if what he does is realistic and understandable from a 'human nature' perspective.

I did feel
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, ...more
Apr 10, 2007 Theresa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Pearl Sydenstricker Buck (1892–1973) was a bestselling and Nobel Prize–winning author. Her classic novel The Good Earth (1931) was awarded a Pulitzer Prize and William Dean Howells Medal. Born in Hillsboro, West Virginia, Buck was the daughter of missionaries and spent much of the first half of her life in China, where many of her books are set. In 1934, civil unrest in China forced Buck back to t ...more
More about Pearl S. Buck...

Other Books in the Series

House of Earth (3 books)
  • Sons (House of Earth, #2)
  • A House Divided (House of Earth, #3)

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“Now, five years is nothing in a man's life except when he is very young and very old...

- Wang Lung”
“The rich are always afraid.” 56 likes
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