Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Did you ever read the novel, "The Good Earth"   by Pearl Buck? I did many years ago, but it is so long ago that I have pretty much forgotten what it was about, except that the setting was 19th century China. Now an unpublished novel written by Pearl S. Buck and titled “The Eternal Wonder”  has recently come to light.  

The hand-written manuscript was discovered in January of 2013, forty years after the 1938 Nobel Prize for Literature winner's death. It was revealed among the contents of a Fort Worth, Texas public storage unit sold for unpaid rent. When the buyer discovered both a handwritten and typewritten document written by Pearl Buck, she alerted the writer's family and after some negotiations, sold it to them. They have authenticated it as her work. Her son, Edgar Walsh, decided to have the novel edited and published even though his mother died before she was able to revise it.  

It is probably a first or second unedited draft, but in spite of the fact that it is far from perfect and not up to Mrs. Buck's usual standard, still the family feels it is important to bring this last novel to the public. This therefore is something a reviewer must take into consideration.

It is a strange tale with rather an oversimplified plot. In fact, it seemed more of a fable than a novel. The hero, Rann Colfax is remarkably and improbably clever. A genius from birth, it would seem. Learning comes so easy to him that he has mastered several languages by the time he is in secondary school. He is much too intelligent for his classmates and teachers, which leads him to wonder about the meaning of life and the part he will play in it.

When his father dies while he is still young, he decides to get his education through books and travel rather than attend a university. In the process of his adventures, he becomes fabulously wealthy through two inheritances. One of them quite improbable.

Throughout the novel, there is a fairy-tale quality. Rather like an Aesop's fable with a lesson that Pearl Buck wanted us to discover and take to heart. The final pages make it clear what this lesson is.

As I read the opening, I wasn't sure that I would like the book at all. But as I continued, it became quite enthralling and in the end, I was left with a great deal to think about. While it isn't in any way up to par with her other works, I find it still gripping enough to deserve four stars

Pearl Buck Birthplace 2

Pearl Buck's Birthplace
By Beeflower (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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