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La buona terra

Buck Pearl S.


Editeur - Casa editrice

Mondadori

Asia
Estremo Oriente
Cina

Città - Town - Ville

Milano

Pagine - Pages

337

Titolo originale

The Good Earth

Lingua - language - langue

italiano

Edizione - Collana

Oscar classici moderni

Traduttore

Andrea Damiano


La buona terra La buona terra  

La buona terra, che viene universalmente considerato il capolavoro della Buck, ripropone, con I'ingegno coerente e I'umana solidarietà proprie di questa scrittrice, il tema della vita patriarcale - legata alla terra e a tradizioni millenarie - del contadino cinese. Rifuggendo da artificiosi esotismi, I'opera, che rivela una profonda conoscenza della Cina così com'era agli inizi del secolo, narra la vicenda di Wang Lung a di sua moglie O-Lan, dell'eroica lotta che essi conducono contro la siccità, le devastazioni, I'avidità e il disamore dei figli per il lavoro dei campi. La terra significava per il contadino cinese il benessere, I'unione della famiglia, le tradizioni più sacre che da essa provenivano e ad esse erano legate, le virtù delle generazioni passate, le speranze di quelle future. Ormai vecchio Wang Lung così ammonisce i suoi figli: « Quando si comincia a vendere la terra è la fine di una famiglia. Dalla terra síamo venuti, e alla terra dobbiamo tornare... Se conserverete la terra vivrete... Nessuno potrà mai portarvela via... ».

 



Biografia

Pearl S. Buck è nata a Hillsboro (Virginia occidentale) nel 1892, da una coppia di missionari americani trasferiti in Cina poco dopo la sua nascita. L'educazione della Buck, affidata nei primi anni a una governante cinese, fu completata in Inghilterra e in America. Terminati gli studi, Pearl Buck tornò in Cina dove rimase fino al 1932, dedicandosi all'insegnamento. Con il primo successo, La buona terra, 1931, ottenne il premio Pulitzer. Nel 1934 si stabilì definitivamente in America; nel 1938 conseguì il premio Nobel per la letteratura. Tra i suoi numerosissimi romanzi ricordiamo: Vento dell'Est: vento dell'Ovest, 1930; Figli, 1932, che insieme con La buona terra e La famiglia dispersa, 1935, forma una trilogia; Stirpe di drago, 1942; La saggezza di Madama Wu, 1946; Lettera da Pechino, 1957. Ha scritto inoltre alcuni racconti per ragazzi e un'autobiografia: Le mie patrie, 1954. I suoi ultimi romanzi sono stati La casa dei fiori, Un ponte per I'altra riva e Le ragazze di Madame Liang.


=====================================

One of the most popular American authors of her day, humanitarian, crusader for women's rights, editor of Asia magazine, philanthropist, noted for her novels of
life in China. Pearl S. Buck was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1938.
The decision of the Swedish Academy stirred controversy, especially among critics who believed that Buck lacked the stature the Nobel Prize was intended to confirm. Nowadays Buck's books are generally considered dated although attempts have been made to rehabilitate her work.


"One does not live half a life in Asia without return. When it would be I did not know, nor even where it would be, or to what cause. In our changing world nothing changes more than geography. The friendly country of China, the home of my childhood and youth, is for the time being forbidden country. I refuse to call it enemy country. The people in my memory are too kind and the land too beautiful." (from A Bridge for Passing, 1963)


Pearl S. Buck was born in Hillsboro, West Virginia. She spent her youth in China, in Chinkiang on the Yangtse River. She learned to speak Chinese before she could speak English. Her parents were missionaries. Buck's father, Absalom Sydenstricker, was a humorless, scholarly man who spent years translating the Bible from Greek to Chinese. Her mother, the former Caroline Stulting, had travelled widely in her youth and had a fondness for literature. Buck's life in China was not always pleasant. When she was only a child, the family was forced to flee from the rebel forces of the Boxer Rebellion.


After being educated by her mother and by a Chinese tutor, who was a Confucian scholar, Buck was sent to a boarding school in Shanghai (1907-09) at the age of fifteen. She also worked for the Door of Hope, a shelter for Chinese slave girls and prostitutes. Buck continued her education in the United States at Randolph-Macon Woman's College in Virginia, where she studied psychology. After graduating in 1914, she returned to China as a teacher for the Presbyterian Board of Missions. Her mother was seriously ill and Buck spent two years taking care of her.


Buck married Dr. John Lossing Buck, an agricultural expert, devoted to his work. When her mother recovered, they settled in a village in the North China.
Buck worked as a teacher and interpreter for her husband and travelled through the countryside. During this period China took steps toward liberal reform, especially through the May 4th Movement of 1917 to 1921. In the 1920s the Bucks moved to Nanking, where she taught English and American literature at the university. In 1924 she returned to the United States to seek medical care for her first daughter, who was mentally retarded. In 1926 she received her M.A. in literature from Cornell University.


The Bucks went back to China in 1927. During the civil war, they were evacuated to Japan - Buck never returned to China. In 1935 Buck divorced her first husband and married her publisher and the president of John Day Company, Richard Walsh, with whom she moved to Pennsylvania.


As a writer Buck started with the novel EAST WIND: WEST WIND (1930), which received critical recognition. She had earlier published autobiographical writings in magazines and a story entitled 'A Chinese Woman Speaks' in the Asia Magazine. Her breakthrough novel, THE GOOD EARTH, appeared in 1931. Its style, a combination of biblical prose and the Chinese narrative saga, increased the dignity of its characters. The book gained a wide audience, and was made into a motion picture.


In 1936 Buck was made a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters. She became in 1938 the third American to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, following Sinclair Lewis and Eugene O'Neill. In 1951 she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. During World War II she lectured and wrote on democracy and American attitudes toward Asia. Through her personal experiences, Buck had much first-hand knowledge of the relationships between men and women from different cultures. In her books one of the major themes was interracial love. In THE ANGRY WIFE (1949) she wrote about the love of Bettina, a former slave, and Tom, a southerner who fought for the army of the North. In THE HIDDEN FLOWER (1952) a Japanese family is overset when the daughter falls in love with an American soldier.


Buck and Walsh were active in humanitarian causes through the East and West Association, which was devoted to mutual understanding between the peoples of Asia and the United States, Welcome House, and The Pearl Buck Foundation. A friend of Eleanor Roosevelt, Margaret Mead, and Paul Robeson, she also advocated the rights of women and racial equality before the civil rights movement. As a consequence of these activities, the F.B.I. kept detailed files on her for years.


After the communist revolution in China, Buck became disillusioned about the chances for international cooperation. THE PATRIOT (1939) focused on the emotional development of an university student, whose idealism is crushed by the brutalities of war. Buck gradually shifted her activities to a lifelong concern for children. She coined the word ''Amerasian'' and raised millions of dollars for the adoption and fostering of Amerasian children, often abandoned by their American fathers stationed in the Far East. Buck's own family included nine adopted children as well as her biological daughters. THE CHILD WHO NEVER GREW (1950) told a personal story of her own daughter, whose mental development stopped at the age of four. The subject is also dealt with in Buck's famous novel The Good Earth. The book was filmed in 1937. Irving Thalberg had wanted to produce the novel since the 1931 publication. Thalberg employed many Chinese as extras and authentic background shots were made in China. Luise Rainer won an Academy Award for best actress. Buck did not first complain her small royalty, until years later, when MGM ignored her plea for a substantial donation to help Amerasian children.


The Good Earth (1931) sold 1,800,000 copies in its
first year. It has been translated into more than thirty languages and was
awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1932. The story follows the life of Wang
Lung, from his beginnings as an impoverished peasant to his eventual
position as a prosperous landowner. Wang Lung
collects a slave, O-lan, from the prosperous house of Hwang. O-lan's
parents sold her to Hwang because they were poor and needed money.
According to an old Chinese custom, Wang Lung's and O-lan's marriage is
pre-arranged. The fiancée is not beautiful, she is humble but shares
with him the devotion to land, to duty, and to survival. First year is
happy: the crop is good and they have two sons. Then the crops fail, and
O-lan gives birth to a girl. The family moves to south, and the man
abandons the plan to sell the child. Revolution breaks out, houses are
plundered, and Wang Lung gets in his possession a silver treasure. The
family returns to their home region. Wang Lung buys land and soon owns
also the house of now impoverished Hwang. The only problem is their
retarded child, a girl, who don't speak. O-lan gives birth to twins, a boy
and a girl. The elder boys go to school. Wang Lung buys another wife,
Lotus. O-lan is not well after the birth of the twins, and she dies after
the wedding of her sons. In his old days, Wang Lung gives his love
to a young slave girl, who also takes care of the retarded girl. His
youngest son moves from the house to become a soldier and because he also
loves the young slave girl. Old Wang Lung witnesses for his sorrow that
his children do not share his unyielding devotion to the land. - The novel was followed by two sequels, SONS (1932), which focused on the youngest son, Wang the Tiger, and A HOUSE DIVIDED (1935), which was Yuan's story. The three novels were published in 1935 in one volume as THE HOUSE OF EARTH. At her death Buck was working on 'The Red Earth', a further sequel to The Good Earth, presenting the modern-day descendants of that novel's characters.


After Walsh's death, Buck formed a relationship with Ted Harris, a dance instructor 40 years her junior, who took charge of the Pearl S. Buck Foundation. Buck died at the age of eighty in Danby, Vermont, on March 6, 1973. Her manuscripts and papers are at the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace Foundation, Hillsboro, West Virginia and the Lipscomb Library of Randolph-Macon Women's College, Lynchburg, Virginia.


"I feel no need for any other faith than my faith in human beings, Buck said in 1939. "Like Confucius of old, I am so absorbed in the wonder of earth and the life upon it that I cannot think of heaven and the angels... If there is no other life, then this one has been enough to make it worth being born, myself a human being." During her career as an author, spanning forty years, Buck published eighty works, including novels, plays, short story collections,
poems, children's books, and biographies. She also wrote five novels under the name John Sedges and translated Lo Guangzhong's (1330-1400) The Water Margin / Men of the Marshes, which appeared in 1933 under the title All Men Are Brothers. The book depicts adventures of outlaws and was banned by Sung rulers. COMMAND THE MORNING (1959) concerned the efforts of the Manhattan Project to develop the atomic bomb and the ethics of dropping it on Japan. THE CHINESE NOVEL (1939) was largely an explanation of her own writing style.



For further reading: Pearl S. Buck by Kang Liao (1997); Pearl S. Buck: A Cultural Biography by Peter Conn (1996); World Authors 1900-1950, ed. by M. Seymour-Smith and A.C. Kimmens (1996); The Several Worlds of Pearl S. Buck, ed. by Elizabeth J. Lipscomb (1994); Pearl S. Buck: Good Earth Mother by W. Sherk (1992); Pearl Buck. A Woman in Conflict by N.B. Stirling (1989); Pearl S. Buck: The Final Chapter by Beverly E. Rizzon (1988); The Lives of Pearl Buck by I. Block (1973); Pearl S. Buck by P. Doyle (1980; Pearl S. Buck: A Biography by T. Harris (1971); Pearl S. Buck by T.F. Harris (1969); Pearl S. Buck by P.A. Doyle (1965); The Image of the Chinese Family in Pearl Buck's Novels by C. Doan (1964) - Other film adaptations: China Sky, 1945, dir. by Ray Enright, starring Randolph Scott, Ellen Drew



Selected works:



  • EAST WIND, WEST WIND, 1930

  • THE GOOD EARTH, 1931 - Pulitzer Prize - Hyvä maa - film: 1937, dir. by Sidney Frankin, starring Paul Muni, Luise Rainer, Walter Connolly. "Performances, direction and photography are of a uniform excellence, and have been fused perfectly into a dignified, beautiful, but soberly dramatic production." The New York Times

  • SONS, 1932 - Pojat

  • THE YOUNG REVOLUTIONIST, 1932

  • EAST AND WEST AND THE NOVEL, 1932

  • IS THERE A CASE FOR FOREIGN MISSIONS?, 1932

  • transl. ALL MEN ARE BROTHERS by Shui Hu Chan, 1933

  • THE FIRST WIFE AND OTHER STORIES, 1933

  • MOTHER, 1934 - Äiti

  • A HOUSE DIVIDED, 1935 - Hajalle mennyt suku

  • THE EXILE, 1936 - Maanpaossa

  • FIGHTING ANGEL: PORTRAIT OF A SOUL, 1936 - Herran soturi

  • THIS PROUD HEART, 1938

  • THE PATRIOT, 1939

  • FLIGHT INTO CHINA, 1939 (play)

  • THE CHINESE NOVEL, 1939 (lecture)

  • OTHER GODS, 1940

  • STORIES FOR LITTLE CHILDREN, 1940

  • OF MEN AND WOMEN, 1941

  • TODAY AND FOREVER, 1941

  • WHEN FUN BEGINS, 1941

  • DRAGON SEED, 1942 - film: 1944, dir. by Jack Conway, Harold S. Bucquet, starring Katharine Hepburn, Walter Huston. "Often awkward and pretentious, it nevertheless has moments of moral and dramatic grandeur." Time

  • AMERICAN UNITY AND ASIA, 1942

  • FREEDOM FOR ALL, 1942 (?)

  • THE CHINESE CHILDREN NEXT DOOR, 1942

  • THE PROMISE, 1943

  • TWENTY-SEVEN STORIES, 1943

  • THE WATER BUFFALO CHILDREN, 1943

  • THE DRAGON FISH, 1944 (as John Sedges)

  • THE STORY OF DRAGON SEED, 1944

  • WHAT AMERICA MEANS TO ME, 1944

  • SUN YAT SEN, 1944? (play)

  • CHINA TO AMERICA, 1944 (radio play)

  • PORTRAIT OF A MARRIAGE, 1945

  • WILL THIS EARTH HOLD?, 1945 (radio play)

  • THE FIRST WIFE, 1945 (play)

  • TALK ABOUT RUSSIA, 1945

  • TELL THE PEOPLE: TALKS WITH JAMES YEN ABOUT THE MASS EDUCATION MOVEMENT, 1945

  • TELL THE PEOPLE: MASS EDUCATION IN CHINA, 1945

  • ed.: CHINA IN BLACK AND WHITE, 1945

  • YU LAN, 1945

  • PAVILLION OF WOMEN, 1946 - Naisten piha - film: 2001, dir. by Yim Ho, starring Luo Yan, Willem Dafoe

  • FAR AND NEAR, 1947

  • HOW IT HAPPENS, 1947

  • PEONY, 1948

  • THE BIG WAVE, 1948

  • THE ANGRY WIFE, 1949

  • AMERICAN ARGUMENT, 1949

  • THE LONG LOVE, 1949 (as John Sedges)

  • THE CHILD WHO NEVER GREW, 1950

  • ONE BRIGHT DAY, 1950

  • GOD'S MEN, 1951

  • THE HIDDEN FLOWER, 1952

  • BRIGHT PROCESSION, 1952 (as John Sedges)

  • ONE BRIGHT DAY, 1952

  • COME MY BELOVED, 1953

  • VOICES IN THE HOUSE, 1953 (as John Sedges)

  • THE MAN WHO CHANGED CHINA, 1953

  • MY SEVERAL WORLDS, 1954

  • JOHNNY JACK AND HIS BEGINNINGS, 1954

  • THE BEECH TREE, 1954

  • IMPERIAL WOMAN, 1956 - Kiinan keisarinna

  • FRIEND TO FRIEND, 1958

  • AMERICAN TRIPTYCH: THREE 'JOHN SEDGES' NOVELS, 1958

  • DESERT INCIDENT, 1959 (play)

  • COMMAND IN THE MORNING, 1959 - Oletko käskenyt päivän
    koittaa

  • THE DELIGHTS OF LEARNING, 1960

  • CHRISTINE, 1960 (play, with Charles K. Peck, Jr. music by Sammy Fain, lyrics by Paul Francis Webster, adaptation of the novel My Indian Family by Hilda Wernher)

  • THE CHRISTMAS GHOST, 1960

  • SATAN NEVER SLEEPS, 1961- film: 1962, The Devil Never Sleeps / Satan Never Sleeps, dir. by Leo McCarey, starring Clifton Webb, William Holden, France Nuyen. "This "Satan" is a direct descendant of "Madama Butterfly" and soap opera." The New York Times

  • FOURTEEN STORIES, 1961

  • A BRIDGE FOR PASSING, 1962

  • HEARTS COME HOME, 1962

  • screenplay: THE BIG WAVE, 1962 (with Ted Danielewski)

  • THE LIVING REED, 1963

  • THE JOY OF CHILDREN, 1964

  • WELCOME CHILD, 1964

  • STORIES OF CHINA, 1964

  • ESCAPE AT MIDNIGHT AND OTHER STORIES, 1964

  • THE BIG FIGHT, 1965

  • CHILDREN FOR ADOPTION, 1965

  • THE GUIDE, 1965 (play, adaptation of the novel by R.K. Narayan)

  • THE GIFTS THEY BRING, 1965

  • ed.: FAIRY TALES OF THE ORIENT, 1965

  • screenplay: THE GUIDE, 1965

  • THE LITTLE FOX IN THE MIDDLE, 1966

  • DEATH IN THE CASTLE, 1966

  • THE PEOPLE OF JAPAN, 1966

  • MY MOTHER'S HOUSE, 1966 (with others)

  • FOR SPACIOUS SKIES, 1966 (with Theodore F. Harris)

  • THE TIME IS NOON, 1967

  • MATTHEW, MARK, LUKE,AND JOHN, 1967

  • TO MY DAUGHTERS, WITH LOVE, 1967

  • THE NEW YEAR, 1968

  • THE PEOPLE OF CHINA, 1968

  • THE GOOD DEED, 1969

  • THREE DAUGHTERS OF MADAME LIANG, 1969 - Rouva Liangin tyttäret

  • MANDALA, 1970

  • THE KENNEDY WOMEN, 1970

  • CHINA AS I SEE IT, 1970

  • THE STORY BIBLE, 1971

  • THE CHINESE STORY TELLER, 1971

  • PEARL BUCK'S AMERICA, 1971

  • ORIENTAL COOKBOOK, 1972

  • ONCE UPON A CHRISTMAS, 1972

  • A COMMUNITY SUCCESS STORY, 1972

  • CHINA PAST AND PRESENT, 1972

  • THE GODDESS ADIBES, 1972

  • MRS STARLING'S PROBLEM, 1973

  • A GIFT FOR THE CHILDREN, 1973

  • THE RAINBOW, 1974

  • ed.: PEARL S. BUCK'S BOOK OF CHRISTMAS, 1974

  • WORDS OF LOVE, 1974

  • EAST AND WEST, 1975

  • SECRETS OF THE HEART, 1976

  • THE LOVERS AND OTHER STORIES, 1977

  • MRS STONER AND THE SEA, 1978

  • THE WOMAN WHO WAS CHANGED, 1979