Burying the Bones: Pearl Buck in China

Burying the Bones Pearl Buck in China Pearl Buck was raised in China by her American parents Presbyterian missionaries from Virginia Blonde and blue eyed she looked startlingly foreign but felt as at home as her Chinese companions She r

  • Title: Burying the Bones: Pearl Buck in China
  • Author: Hilary Spurling
  • ISBN: 9781847651938
  • Page: 114
  • Format: ebook
  • Burying the Bones: Pearl Buck in China

    Pearl Buck was raised in China by her American parents, Presbyterian missionaries from Virginia Blonde and blue eyed she looked startlingly foreign, but felt as at home as her Chinese companions She ran free on the grave littered grasslands behind her house, often stumbling across the tiny bones of baby girls who had been suffocated at birth Buck s father was a terrifyiPearl Buck was raised in China by her American parents, Presbyterian missionaries from Virginia Blonde and blue eyed she looked startlingly foreign, but felt as at home as her Chinese companions She ran free on the grave littered grasslands behind her house, often stumbling across the tiny bones of baby girls who had been suffocated at birth Buck s father was a terrifying figure, with a maniacal zeal for religious conversion a passion rarely shared by the local communities he targeted He drained the family s budget for his Chinese translation of the New Testament, while his aggrieved, long suffering wife did her utmost to create a homely environment for her children, several of whom died tragically young.Pearl Buck would eventually rise to eminence in America as a bestselling author her most renowned work, The Good Earth, re entered the bestseller charts in 2004 when it was selected for Oprah s Book Club but in this startlingly original biography, Spurling recounts with elegance and great insight her unspeakable upbringing in a China that was virtually unknown to the West.

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    One thought on “Burying the Bones: Pearl Buck in China

    1. Jan-Maat

      Not a biography, more a study of her life in China and how that effected her, the book trails off wrapping up half her life in a couple of dozen disaster filled and disappointment flavoured pages. Pearl Buck was just a name to me, one of that curious tribe of once very popular authors who are now largely forgotten, Spurling's book hasn't convinced me to read the collected works of Pearl Buck but implicitly it is a powerful argument for biographical writing. Pearl Buck won the Nobel prize for lit [...]

    2. Lisa Lieberman

      Spurling's bio showed me a side of Pearl Buck I never knew. She was a survivor who made art out of the trauma she witnessed, not for the sake of art, but to bring attention to the plight of China's poor. She pulled no punches, particularly where missionary activity was concerned ("Sincerity isn't enough," she once said), but she also used her writing and her activism to avoid facing the tragedies in her own life.She achieved a great deal, personally (Pulitzer, Nobel) and politically -- repeal of [...]

    3. George

      After reading "The Good Earth," which I liked enormously, I decided to read this biography of Pearl Buck. "The Good Earth" is an excellent novel (see my earlier review) written by a woman who loved China and the Chinese people. In this excellent biography of its author – Pearl Buck – Spurling tells about both the events in Pearl Buck’s life that led up to the writing of "The Good Earth," which spent two years at the top of the best-seller list and won its author a Pulitzer Prize, and the e [...]

    4. Louise

      Raised in China by an over zealous missionary father and long suffering mother, Pearl Sydenstricker Buck had an extraordinary childhood. Her loving mother, Carrie, saw to her education and her stern misogynist father, Absalom, made a difficult life more difficult for the everyone around him.At a young age Pearl saw extreme poverty, disaster and death in rural China. Pearl lost four siblings in ways that could be attributed to her family's living conditions. At times the family lived without runn [...]

    5. Bettie☯

      bbc/programmes/b00rlBBC description: In "Burying The Bones", distinguished biographer Hilary Spurling takes as her subject Pearl Buck, the highly influential American author whose astonishing life proved even more fantastic than her popular novels of the 1930s, 40s and 50s.Born to Christian missionaries in 1890s China, Buck's writing helped change Western perceptions of that country forever; in recognition of which she won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1938.Pearl's Pulitzer Prize-winning nov [...]

    6. Richard Williams

      I ask myself when i am reading a book and afterwards, like now, when i write the review, what is the genre? even before i ask, what is the book about? this book is a biography, but an rather unusual one. first it is really about her first 35 years, those years in china. second, it really isn't about facts, dates etc but is like a forensic literary investigation into how she incorporated her childhood into her books. the author scours pearl buck's literary output for hints about what she was thin [...]

    7. Bobbi

      This has to be one of the best biographies I've ever read. It was riveting. Spurling's prose made it read almost like a novel, and a very good novel at that. It doesn't matter if you've read anything by Pearl Buck, you will want to when you're done. I've read The Good Earth but will reread it with a completely new eye next time.Pearl's early life was lonely, harrowing and disturbing. Her father's missionary zeal and her mother's unhappiness left her with no one but her younger sister, Grace. Fou [...]

    8. Laura

      From BBC Radio 4 - Book of the Week:In "Burying The Bones", distinguished biographer Hilary Spurling takes as her subject Pearl Buck, the highly influential American author whose astonishing life proved even more fantastic than her popular novels of the 1930s, 40s and 50s.Born to Christian missionaries in 1890s China, Buck's writing helped change Western perceptions of that country forever; in recognition of which she won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1938.Pearl's Pulitzer Prize-winning nove [...]

    9. Margaret

      I have been a fan of Pearl S. Buck from the time I was a teenager. I have read many of her books and this biography helped me to understand one of my favorite authors. I knew that she was raised in China and her parents were missionaries but I did not know how much she felt that China and the Chinese people were her people. She left China ultimately in her 30's because of the political changes and the danger for foreigners at the time. She never felt at home in America and never really meshed wi [...]

    10. Kerry-Lynne

      Overall, it was a real good angry woman readuntil the end of her[ie. Pearl's:] lifewhen I came to have some doubtsl of this was heavily influenced by my memories of having been told of this woman's life and times by my paternal grandmotherwho saw Pearl as something of a style icon.festyle that is. I did enjoy some of stuff about life in China and the many social changes and times she was witness tooe biographer seems to have a good idea of the many facets this woman had to her long life.

    11. Laura

      In "Burying The Bones", distinguished biographer Hilary Spurling takes as her subject Pearl Buck, the highly influential American author whose astonishing life proved even more fantastic than her popular novels of the 1930s, 40s and 50s.Born to Christian missionaries in 1890s China, Buck's writing helped change Western perceptions of that country forever; in recognition of which she won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1938.Pearl's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "The Good Earth" portrayed the liv [...]

    12. Carol

      I enjoyed most of the novels of Pearl Buck. She seemed to catch the essence of behavior patterns of Chinese, Japanese and Koreans, and how they are different, and described them lovingly. She was particularly interested in ordinary, poor people, as in her masterpiece, "The Good Earth". This volume is a biography covering her childhood as daughter of a single-minded missionary bent on converting the heathens but not interested in understanding them. The missionary's wife had a rough time, living [...]

    13. Gale

      Since I was in China last spring, I’ve been overdosing on books about their tumultuous 20th century. Though Pearl Buck (1892–1973) was an American she spent much of her life in China and her heart remained there even when she lived in the United States. The best biographies make me feel as if I’m there… and I was there with Pearl from her life as a child of missionaries living in rural poverty, through the Boxer Rebellion and civil war, with her inattentive husband and trying to understa [...]

    14. Iva

      One of the best crafted biographies I have encountered, this is a completely absorbing story of a remarkable life--a life that bridged two disparate cultures. Spurling is able to extract the most interesting aspects without unnecessary detail as many of the long bios do. The reaction to the publication of "The Good Earth"; her naivete about publishing in America, and of course life in the U.S. all make for absorbing reading. When she became a college student at Randolph-Macon, the students at th [...]

    15. Mary Addison-lamb

      This is a fascinating look at Pearl Buck, the FIRST woman to win a Nobel prize for literature for The Good Earth. A book that she thought in Chinese and wrote in English! Her Chinese/English readers say that it is really a masterpiece for looking at and writing about the world as a native Chinese. Hilary Spurling does a masterful job of showing us Pearl's changing perspective on missionary work, her parents and her relationship to America. I can't wait to reread TGE andImperial Woman. Maybe even [...]

    16. False

      I read Pearl Buck novels as a child and teen, then never went near her again. She was popular in her day, but that day has passed. You never hear her mentioned anymore. I didn't like this book, yet entered it wanting to like it. The writing style read like a dissertation, or a term paper; i.e. flat. Things I didn't like about Pearl as a person: her ability to dump husbands when they were no longer useful to her, her icing over her parent's lives, after suffering through an abusive childhood of d [...]

    17. Sara Van Dyck

      Dramatic, readable story of a person and of her times, the early twentieth century in China and in America. I knew Buck primarily as the author of The Good Earth, but had no idea how significant that book was and of its ramifications. She moved from missionary daughter, then wife, to prolific author, to important public figure and advocate. And I found her last years surprising but understandable, and moving. Most fascinating to me was the reaction of people in China, often defensive, and in the [...]

    18. Catherine

      Spurling obviously did extensive research for this book. Unfortunately, the editing and transfer of that information to an enjoyable read was severely lacking. The text read more like a dissertation rather than an entertaining compilation of the events in Buck’s life. I did persevere and slogged through to find the more significant and important points, but there were far too many unimportant and unnecessary portions that should have been edited. The beginning of the book focused primarily on [...]

    19. Bookchick

      A very well-written biography but not comprehensive. I should have known that the focus was on her life in China, as clearly stated in the title. However, I was disappointed to learn little of her life once she returned to the United States. I will have to read another biography covering detail of her later years.

    20. Soonhar

      Worth reading for the details on Buck's life and insights into her book, including The Good Earth. She wrote the book in Mandarin in her head and translated it into English as she typed. She had a genuine love for the Chinese people and culture. A daughter of an eccentric missionary father and long-suffering mother, she was born in the U.S. but pretty much lived in China until age 17.

    21. Jeffrey

      Thought-provoking and beautifully written, this biography puts the author and her times in context. Spurling has a knack for sensory detail, colorful character traits and thoughtful analysis. A highly recommended biography, I read this in about 8 hours over the course of 2 weeks.

    22. Erin

      Finally--done with this book. I can only give one star to books that I don't finish, hence the two. I love Pearl Buck, but man, I struggled with this book mostly because I was bored.

    23. Richard

      This is a biography of an author who grew up under extraordinary circumstances and became famous writing variously, about her own family, and about sharply drawn fictional characters inspired by her experiences. Her most important literary creation was, of course, "The Good Earth", which earned her renown for its portrayal of the common people of China, neglected in writings even by Chinese authors who considered the rural poor to be of no interest as subject matter. Pearl won the Pulitzer Prize [...]

    24. Carol

      I have to say that Pearl Buck was an amazing woman! Pearl as a young girl with her family.Pearl Comfort Sydenstricker was born on June 26, 1892, in Hillsboro, West Virginia. Her parents, Absalom and Caroline Sydenstricker, were Southern Presbyterian missionaries, stationed in China. Pearl was the fourth of seven children (and one of only three who would survive to adulthood). She was born when her parents were near the end of a furlough in the United States; when she was three months old, she wa [...]

    25. Mandy J. Hoffman

      MY REVIEW:This is a unique story of a brave woman who endured a hard life. While it's a fascinating story, the book tends to be a hard read. I listened to the audio version and had a hard enough time just getting through that, let alone physically sitting to read it. It's not so much Pearl's story that is so hard to read, but rather they way it is presented through it's original print version. Although, I must admit that this audio version is not the most easy to listen to either. The narration [...]

    26. Georgy Hadwen

      I seemed to be in a doomed to disappointment mode at the moment. I was looking forward to a biography having maxed out on semi fictionalised versions of various figures which I could neither trust to be accurate nor impartial. Hillary Spurling has a very good track record on non fiction and her journalistic style comes through. She clearly did her research and avoided influencing me as a reader one way or the other - a signal sign of professionalism. However my problem was I had no real interest [...]

    27. Sally Wessely

      Rating this book was difficult for me. Hilary Spurling did a great job of researching her subject matter. She wrote a cohesive and informative biography about a woman whose life was fascinating. I felt it was a bit too scholarly to read well. I appreciate scholarship in biography, but I also like to think I am reading about a real person that I come to know well. I can't decide if Pearl Buck became a flat character in the hands of her biographer who only was represented by quoting what she wrote [...]

    28. Beth

      I'll admit right up front I did not finish the book. (An unfortunate trend for me right now. I don't think I have finished the last 3 books I started reading.)I started reading this book for a book group I am in and I really enjoyed the first parts of it which described her childhood in China. I have lived in Taiwan for 2 years and have been to China a couple times so that part was wonderful for me. I found her family life as a child fascinating. I loved how the history of China during that time [...]

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