Pearl S. Buck, fully Pearl Sydenstricker Buck, also known by her Chinese name Sai Zhenzhu

Pearl S.
Buck, fully Pearl Sydenstricker Buck, also known by her Chinese name Sai Zhenzhu
1892
1973

American Novelist and Humanitarian, Nobel Prize in Literature and Pulitzer Prize Winner

Author Quotes

The wild winds had been sown and the whirlwinds were gathering... and I was reaping what I had not sown... None of us could escape the history of the centuries before any of us had been born, and with which we had nothing to do. We had not, I think, ever committed even a mild unkindness against a Chinese, and certainly we had devoted ourselves to justice for them, we had taken sides against our own race again and again for their sakes, sensitive always to injustices which others had committed and were still committing. But nothing mattered today, neither the kindness nor the cruelty. We were in hiding for our lives because we were white.

Wang Lung sat smoking, thinking of the silver as it had lain upon the table. It had come out of the earth, this silver, out of the 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. Each time before this that he had taken the silver out to give to anyone, it had been like taking a piece of his life and giving it to someone carelessly. But not for the first time, such giving was not pain. He saw, not the silver in the alien hand of a merchant in the town; he saw the silver transmuted into something worth even more than life itself - clothes upon the body of his son.

Yet there were times when he did love her with all the kindness she demanded, and how was she to know what were those times? Alone she raged against his cheerfulness and put herself at the mercy of her own love and longed to be free of it because it made her less than he and dependent on him. But how could she be free of chains she had put upon herself? Her soul was all tempest. The dreams she had once had of her life were dead. She was in prison in the house. And yet who was her jailer except herself?

Then Wang Lung turned to the woman and looked at her for the first time. She had a square, honest face, a short, broad nose with large black nostrils, and her mouth was wide as a gash in her face. Her eyes were small and of a dull black in color, and were filled with some sadness that was not clearly expressed. It was a face that seemed habitually silent and unspeaking, as though it could not speak if it would. She bore patiently Wang Lung?s look, without embarrassment or response, simply waiting until he had seen her. He saw that it was true there was not beauty of any kind in her face?a brown, common, patient face. But there were no pock-marks on her dark skin, nor was her lip split. In her ears he saw his rings hanging, the gold-washed rings he had bought, and on her hands were the rings he had given her. He turned away with secret exultation. Well, he had his woman!

We are not empire builders. How important this fact is no American who has not lived in Asia can appreciate. It goes against our conscience, which is a very tender part of the American spirit. Therefore we are learning how to hold our allies, not by force of arms and government, but by mutual benefit and friendship. So much is already clear... I am therefore hopeful. In spite of dismaying contradictions in individuals in our national scene, I feel the controlling spirit or our people, generous, decent, and sane. In this mood of faith and hope my work goes on. A ream of fresh paper lies on my desk waiting for the next book. I am a writer and I take up my pen to write.

You can judge your age by the amount of pain you feel when you come in contact with a new idea.

There is something to be said for losing one?s possessions, after nothing can be done about it. I had loved my Nanking home and the little treasures it had contained, the lovely garden I had made, my life with friends and students. Well, that was over. I had nothing at all now except the old clothes I stood in. I should have felt sad, and I was quite shocked to realize that I did not feel sad at all. On the contrary, I had a lively sense of adventure merely at being alive and free, even of possessions. No one expected anything of me. I had no obligations, no duties, no tasks. I was nothing but a refugee, someone totally different from the busy young woman I had been. I did not even care that the manuscript of my novel was lost. Since everything else was gone, why not that?

We need to restore the full meaning of that old word, duty. It is the other side of rights.

You cannot stop time, but for love sometimes stops.

There was an old abbot in one temple and he said something of which I think often and it was this, that when men destroy their old gods they will find new ones to take their place.

We send missionaries to China so the Chinese can get to heaven, but we won't let them into our country.

You must set forth and find the center of your interest. You are a creator, but you must find your interest and then dedicate yourself to that interest?not to the act of creativity. Merely to want to create will make it impossible for you to do so. You must find an interest greater than yourself?a love, perhaps?and then the power to create will set you on fire.

There was no need to hurry that future?yet the length of his own youth pressed upon him. Whatever he was to do next he wanted to begin now. But how to begin and on what?

We should so provide for old age that it may have no urgent wants of this world to absorb it from meditation on the next. It is awful to see the lean hands of dotage making a coffer of the grave.

Strangely enough, there were certain scholars who envied the freedom of obscurity, and who, burdened with certain private sorrows which they dared not tell anyone, or who perhaps wanting only a holiday from the weariness of the sort of art they had themselves created, wrote novels too, under assumed and humble names. And when they did so they put aside pedantry and wrote as simply and naturally as any common novelist.

There will be no real content among American women unless they are made and kept more ignorant or unless they are given equal opportunity with men to use what they have been taught. And American men will not be really happy until their women are.

Western scholars, contemptible in their pretentious and shallow scholarship, have translated Tao as Way. How foolish! Tao is Spirit, the Spirit that permeates all heaven and all earth, even those far beyond ours. Tao includes all that is not, and all that is; Lao Tzu describes it in these words. Silent, aloof, alone, It changes not, nor fails, but touches all.I do not know its name, One name for it is Tao.Pressed for designation,I call it -- Tao.Tao means Outgoing, Outgoing, Far-reaching, Far-reaching, Return.

The bitterest creature under heaven is the wife who discovers that her husband's bravery is only bravado, that his strength is only a uniform, that his power is but a gun in the hands of a fool.

These Chinese novels are not perfect according to Western standards. They are not always planned from beginning to end, nor are they compact, any more than life is planned or compact. They are often too long, too full of incident, too crowded with character, a medley of fact and fiction as to material, and a medley of romance and realism as to method, so that an impossible event of magic or dream may be described with such exact semblance of detail that one is compelled to belief against all reason

Whatever came to him was good. It was life. It was knowledge.

The Chinese novel was written primarily to amuse the common people. And when I say amuse I do not mean only to make them laugh, though laughter is also one of the aims of the Chinese novel. I mean amusement in the sense of absorbing and occupying the whole attention of the mind. I mean enlightening that mind by pictures of life and what that life means.

They must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency they are not really alive unless they are creating.

When hope is taken away from the people moral degeneration follows swiftly after.

The common sense of people will surely prove to them someday that mutual support and cooperation are only sensible for the security and happiness of all. Such faith keeps me continually ready and purposeful with energy to do what one person can towards shaping the environment in which the human being can grow with freedom.

Author Picture
First Name
Pearl S.
Last Name
Buck, fully Pearl Sydenstricker Buck, also known by her Chinese name Sai Zhenzhu
Birth Date
1892
Death Date
1973
Bio

American Novelist and Humanitarian, Nobel Prize in Literature and Pulitzer Prize Winner