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The Good Earth

(House of Earth #1)

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  233,280 ratings  ·  10,435 reviews
This tells the poignant tale of a Chinese farmer and his family in old agrarian China. The humble Wang Lung glories in the soil he works, nurturing the land as it nurtures him and his family. Nearby, the nobles of the House of Hwang consider themselves above the land and its workers; but they will soon meet their own downfall.

Hard times come upon Wang Lung and his family w
Paperback, (Enriched Classics), 418 pages
Published March 4th 2009 by Howard Publishing Co (first published March 2nd 1931)
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Kat 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)
Katie Yeah I think they were believable enough. I think O-lan was the most believable. She was just what I imagine from back then.

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Celeste Ng
Jul 07, 2007 rated it did not like it
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."
Jul 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Good Earth (House of Earth #1), Pearl S. Buck

The Good Earth is a novel by Pearl S. Buck published in 1931 and awarded the Pulitzer Prize for the Novel in 1932.

The best-selling novel in the United States in both 1931 and 1932 was an influential factor in Buck's winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1938.

It is the first book in a trilogy that includes Sons (1932) and A House Divided (1935). The story begins on Wang Lung's wedding day and follows the rise and fall of his fortunes.

The Hou
Jr Bacdayan
Sep 15, 2013 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
Sep 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing

Feb 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: china, classic-novels
“The sun beat down upon them, for it was early summer, and [O-Lan’s] face was dripping with her sweat. Wang Lung had his coat off and his back bare, but she worked with her thin garment covering her shoulders and it grew wet and clung to her like skin. Moving together in a perfect rhythm, without a word, hour after hour, he fell into a union with her which took the pain from his labor. He had no articulate thought of anything; there was only this perfect sympathy of movement, of turning over thi ...more
Henry Avila
Nov 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
The story is absorbing and exquisitely written. A memorable classic that is a must for any book club or readers who enjoy well written historical fiction novels.

The Good Earth is a novel by Pearl S. Buck published in 1931 that dramatizes family life in a Chinese village in the early 20th century. It is the first book in a trilogy that includes Sons and A House Divided. It won the Pulitzer Prize and is considered a classic.

The novel is set in a timeless China and provides no exact dates althou
Mar 10, 2009 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
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
Mario the lone bookwolf
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics
The livelong interest in the Asian culture is manifested at each page of this unique novel.

Some authors have the ability to absorb the mentality of cultures they live in and are fascinated by to create works that are simply impossible to copy because they stand unique in their style, language and deep, hidden messages, references and innuendos. Similar to Arthur Goldens' work Memoirs of a Geisha, Buck´s work integrates key elements of Asian mentality, history and the authentic life of a hard-wor
Peter Tieryas
Oct 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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. It's 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 works I had not known of before). That is also ...more
Aug 24, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, 2016
It's not easy to explain how someone feels when they read a book that feels like it's a part of them, as if it will weave itself into the fabric of a soul and walk with someone through their life.

I save 5 stars for books that move me this deeply. Perhaps that's a bit unfair to all the other awesome books out there that might deserve it, but oh well. That's what 4 star ratings are for; besides, there has to be a way to acknowledge a book that is an all-time favorite and give it the respect it des
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is one hell of a classic. I kept thinking of The Grapes of Wrath during the first half of this read this and kept wondering at it. Poverty, want, great toil, and then even more want filled these pages. The Good Earth came out 8 years before Steinbeck's masterpiece and yet my biggest wonder is why the Good Earth isn't better known, more well known, than Steinbeck.

Is it because it happens to Chinese characters rather than Okies from Oklahoma?

Let's let that question pass on by for a moment be
David Putnam
Feb 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book, loved it. It's rags to riches then back to rags. I loved the way the book describes the way of life in China. I highly recommend. ...more
Aug 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Michael Finocchiaro
Pearl S Buck lived in China on several occasions and thus her story of Wang Lung feels real. The book is a sort of bildungsroman in which we see the life of Wang Lung from his mariage to the young slave O-Lan to his success and passing on of his legacy to his snickering sons. There is plenty of drama here and there are times that you want to slap Wang Lung for being an ass, but the story is very entertaining and one can easily see the talent of Buck in her writing. I wonder if the other two book ...more
Book club read #24, August 2019.

What's left to say about a classic, a Pulitzer Prize winner, that hasn't already been said? Maybe nothing, but it is probably worth repeating just how wonderfully special it is. Had not read this before but saw the movie years ago, then about 10 years ago I picked up a paperback copy at a used book sale and didn't get around to reading it until a GR friend mentioned it recently as a book club option. So my book club agreed to try it when no one else had any sugges
May 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
an epic life of a farmer

all good and bad said

many life wisdom from each character
Lori Keeton
It had come out of the earth, this silver, out of his 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.

The Good Earth is known for telling the story of a poor, hard-working farmer, Wang Lung, who slowly and steadily gains more land and wealth for himself than he has ever imagined owning. Forced to marry a slave from the House of Hwang, the wealthy and rich family of his province, O
Clif Hostetler
Feb 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: novel
At one level this book contains the story of a hard working farmer (i.e. peasant) in old agrarian China who together with his wife survives famines and floods and manages to raise a family, expand his land holdings, and in the end become a rich man. Many of the hardships faced by the characters in this story are caused by widespread poverty and flukes of nature. But some hardships are the result of traditional social customs which western readers will find cringeworthy—oppression of women, foot- ...more
Apr 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
What to make of so famous a book; Pulitzer Prize winner and Buck went on to win the Nobel Prize, the first American woman to do so. There are study guides galore and Oprah revived interest in the book when she selected it for one of her book club reads. The plot is well known and is set in the early part of the twentieth century in agrarian China. It is a family saga and is the first of a trilogy. It tells the story of peasant farmer Wang Lung from day until his death, covering about 50 years. I ...more
Alice Poon
This is a quietly told story of a Chinese farmer's life in the pre-revolution days. My feeling is that I liked it, but did not love it (the rating would be 3.4, rounded down).

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). What sets this novel
What a strange a beautiful little book this is. From the day Wang Lung goes to claim a servant girl as his wife, to help him toil away in his small parcel of land, all the way to his death as a prosperous land-owner, we follow him in the tradition of the greatest classics that make the ordinary life sound extraordinary.

The tone of the prose, while beautiful, is also a strong clue that Buck’s parents worked as missionaries, because it reads almost like the Bible. Characters are hardly ever referr
Jul 21, 2015 rated it liked it
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
Jan 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
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
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Pearl Comfort Sydenstricker Buck Walsh (Pearl S. Buck) 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 for ...more

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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