№2 2017

УДК / UDK: 82-821.111(73)

Author: Stephen Rachman
About the author:

Stephen Rachman (PhD, Associate Professor, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA), This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


This essay addresses the shifts in Pearl S. Buck’s literary reputation making the case for renewed consideration to Buck as a relevant figure for a transnational literary history. Her work is analyzed as an example of world literary study based on syncretic figures like Buck who cannot be easily extricated from one or another national tradition — conjoined literary figures, we might say, of Chinese and American literary history. By paying closer attention to figures such as Buck whose literary history forces us to consider her works in multi-lingual, multinational contexts the complex interactions of global literary systems can be made visible. In reworking this picture of global literary culture, this essay argues that Buck's literary/cultural importance was never exclusively textual (based on the intrinsic literary qualities of her works in a critical vacuum). Rather, it demands historicist and biographical contextualization in order to elucidate the ideological horizons, as Frederic Jameson might put it, intrinsic to her work. In particular, the transcultural feminism emergent in her work derives from a creative tension forged by her troubled marriage to Lossing Buck in the 1920s and 30s. What follows then, is an exploration of this in three sections. The first part will take a macroscopic vantage, tracing the rise and fall and re-emergence of Buck’s literary reputation. The second part is microscopic, detailing the formative tensions of Buck’s creative life and how those tensions fed into the formation of her literary and cultural identities, especially The Good Earth and All Men Are Brothers. The paper ends with brief discussion of Dragon Seed, and what in my view is the endpoint of Buck’s transcultural political imaginary.

Keywords: Pearl Sydenstricker Buck, literary history, China, United States, The Good Earth, All Men Are Brothers, Dragon Seed, East Wind, West Wind, Gender roles, Nobel Prize.

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