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

To shut one's door while others suffer, to care only for one's own, disclaiming responsibility for humanity, is to destroy all good impulse and to build up a deadly selfishness which will be a boomerang in its effect upon ourselves. Let our own children see the opportunity now theirs for Americanism in the best and traditional sense. There was never a better hour than this to be an American. May 1940, Christian Herald.

With so profound a faith in the human heart and its power to grow toward the light, I find here reason and cause enough for hope and confidence in the future of mankind.

The relationships between the five elements. What are the five elements? They are wood, fire, earth, metal, water. These create, and also destroy, each other... On the side of creation, wood creates fire; fire, as ash, creates earth. In earth there is metal: metal melts to become liquid. Water creates trees, or wood. On the side of destruction, wood consumes water through trees; earth can stop water; water destroys fire; fire destroys metal; but metal in an instrument destroys wood....Within this circle of creation and destruction man must live harmoniously, with ebb and flow, in tune with all that exists.

To take each day as a separate page, to be read carefully, savoring all of the details, this is best for me, I think.

Write a novel if you must, but think of money as an unlikely accident.

The street is noisy and the men and women are not perfect in the technique of their expression as the statues are. They are ugly and imperfect, incomplete even as human beings, and where they come from and where they go cannot be known. But they are people and therefore infinitely to be preferred to those who stand upon the pedestals of art.

To the Americans, Communism is a crime. They will have none of it. - But why, when it is ours, not theirs? I suppose this American concern with a form of government springs from their own history. Their ancestors fled from Europe to escape tyranny from their ancient rulers. Freedom was their dream. To them, therefore, tyranny is endemic in Communism. They will have none of it. It is not we who are Chinese whom they hate. It is the tyranny they imagine.

Yes, she now believed that when her body died, her soul would go on. Gods she did not worship, and faith she had none, but love she had and forever. Love alone had awakened her sleeping soul and had made it deathless.

The waters of the genius of story gushed out as they would, however the natural rocks allowed and the trees persuaded, and only common people came and drank and found rest and pleasure. For the novel in China was the peculiar product of the common people. And it was solely their property.

Wandering is never waste, dear boy,' he said. 'While you wander you will find much to wonder about, and wonder is the first step to creation.

Yet somehow our society must make it right and possible for old people not to fear the young or be deserted by them, for the test of a civilization is in the way that it cares for its helpless members.

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.

Andre had been telling her an ancient legend of the fall of man into evil. It came about, he said, by the hand of a woman, Eve, who gave man forbidden fruit. And how was this woman to know that the fruit was forbidden? Madame Wu had inquired. An evil spirit, in the shape of a serpent, whispered it to her, Andre had said. Why to her instead of to the man? she had inquired. Because he knew that her mind and her heart were fixed not upon the man, but upon the pursuance of life, he had replied. The man's mind and heart were fixed upon himself. He was happy enough, dreaming that he possessed the woman and the garden. Why should he be tempted further? He had all. But the woman could always be tempted by the thought of a better garden, a larger space, more to possess, because she knew that out of her body would come many more beings, and for them she plotted and planned. The woman thought not of herself, but of the many whom she would create. For their sake she was tempted. For their sake she will always be tempted.

Every event has had its cause, and nothing, not the least wind that blows, is accident or causeless. To understand what happens now one must find the cause, which may be very long ago in its beginning, but is surely there, and therefore a knowledge of history as detailed as possible is essential if we are to comprehend the present and be prepared for the future. Fate, Mr. Kung taught me, is not the blind superstition or helplessness that waits stupidly for what may happen. Fate is unalterable only in the sense that given a cause, a certain result must follow, but no cause is inevitable in itself, and man can shape his world if he does not resign himself to ignorance.

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