Buck, Pearl S.

pearl buck

Pearl S. Buck (1892-1973) was the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature for her striking, exotic writing that opened our collective eyes to a different culture. Born in the U.S., she moved to China as a child, and grew up on that county’s legends. These stuck with her and influenced her writing and political activity. Wise and opinionated, Buck made her feelings clear with her writing and brought attention to issues (social, racial, gender, international relations) that were unacknowledged; she dared the nation to help those that needed it.

She and her husband founded both The East and West Association, to increase understanding between East and West cultures and Welcome House, an agency for adopting children internationally; she also founded the Pearl S. Buck Foundation to help children in Asian countries. The Good Earth, her best-know work, was her second novel; it received both the Pulitzer Prize and the Howells Medal. She also wrote essays and stories for magazines, including The Atlantic Monthly, The Chinese Recorder, and The Crisis. When she passed away in 1973, Buck had published over 70 works, crossing over all genres. Her writing is still admired today, all over the world.

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Pearl S. Buck Quotes

“I don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to work.”

“I love people. I love my family, my children … but inside myself is a place where I live all alone and that’s where you renew your springs that never dry up.” (As quoted in The New York Post, 26 April 1959)

“A man is educated and turned out to work. But a woman is educated — and turned out to grass.” (Of Men and Women, 1941)

“In a 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.” (My Several Worlds: A Personal Record, 1954) 

“The secret of joy in work is contained in one word –excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it.” (The Joy of Children, 1966)

“If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday.”

“The person who tries to live alone will not succeed as a human being. His heart withers if it does not answer another heart. His mind shrinks away if he hears only the echoes of his own thoughts and finds no other inspiration.” (To You On Your First Birthday“, To My Daughters, With Love, 1967)

“The truth is always exciting. Speak it, then. Life is dull without it.” (As quoted in Know Your Limits — Then Ignore Them, 2000, by John Mason)

“Men and women should own the world as a mutual possession.” (Of Men and Women, 1941)

“Let woman out of the home, let man into it, should be the aim of education. The home needs man, and the world outside needs woman.”

“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.” (Harper’s Magazine, August 1938)

“All things are possible until they are proved impossible – and even the impossible may only be so, as of now.” (A Bridge for Passing, 1962)

“Nothing in life is as good as the marriage of true minds between man and woman. As good? It is life itself.”

“An intelligent, energetic, educated woman cannot be kept in four walls — even satin-lined, diamond-studded walls — without discovering sooner or later that they are still a prison cell.” (“America’s Medieval Women,” Harper’s Magazine, August 1938)

“The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: a human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To him, a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create — so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating.” (As quoted in The 101 Habits of Highly Successful Screenwriters: Insiders Secrets from Hollywood’s Top Writers, 2001, by Karl Inglesias)

“I enjoy life because I am endlessly interested in people and their growth. My interest leads me to widen my knowledge of people, and this in turn compels me to believe in the common goodness of mankind. I believe that the normal human heart is born good. That is, it’s born sensitive and feeling, eager to be approved and to approve, hungry for simple happiness and the chance to live. It neither wishes to be killed, nor to kill. If through circumstances, it is overcome by evil, it never becomes entirely evil. There remain in it elements of good, however recessive, which continue to hold the possibility of restoration.” (This I Believe, 1951)

“You cannot make yourself feel something you do not feel, but you can make yourself do right in spite of your feelings.” (“My Neighbor’s Son”To My Daughters, With Love, 1967)

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