Saturday, January 07, 2017

My Sad Book

"The Good Earth" by Pearl S. Buck stands out as my sad book. Mine is not a sorrowful depressive kind of sadness expressed in tearfulness, but is rather the sadness of a kind of empathy.

No matter what happens to a man, the earth will always produce. The earth is good, but life is hard. The story centers on Wang Lung, a man who rises and falls. He struggles to prosper and struggles in his prosperity. Wang Lung's story begins in the country and moves to the city--but Wang Lung's heart remains in the country. He wants the simplicity of what he once had, the wealth of the land--the wide open spaces, peace and safety.

Births, deaths, weddings, funerals, poverty, wealth, fidelity, betrayal--Wang Lung experiences a very full life--but what does it take to make a man happy? What brings satisfaction? The conclusion is reminiscent of Tolstoy, who answered the question in his short story of how much land a man really needs.

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