Pearl S. Buck | Critical Review by Edward Weeks

This literature criticism consists of approximately 2 pages of analysis & critique of Pearl S. Buck.
This section contains 577 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Critical Review by Edward Weeks

Critical Review by Edward Weeks

SOURCE: "Solace in Doing," in Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 209, No. 5, May, 1962, p. 119.

In the following review, Weeks states that A Bridge for Passing "will be a touchstone for those made desolate by sorrow, and in writing it Mrs. Buck lifts our spirits as she revives her own."

Pearl Buck is one of those rare Americans who knows the Orient as well as she knows her homeland. She has lived through three careers and is now actively engaged in a fourth. As a child of missionary parents, she learned to speak Chinese and to love her foster country. After college, her first marriage to her missionary husband brought her back to China but not to happiness: their eldest daughter was retarded; the home ties were disrupted; and China itself became increasingly hostile. Back in the United States, struggling to find her feet as a writer, she came under the sympathetic editorship of Tom Walsh. She was determined not to commit herself emotionally, and she turned him down again and again, but when they were married and set up their home together in Pennsylvania, she entered a third career of more than two decades which was to bring her the triumph of the Nobel Prize and a companionship beatific, marred only by Tom's long last illness. The doctors finally held out no hope. It is against this background that Mrs. Buck has written her new, compassionate book, A Bridge for Passing.

She first passes over the bridge on her way to Tokyo, where she is to assist a Japanese company in the filming of her book The Big Wave. This is her first sight of Japan in twenty-five years, and although she had been here often in her girlhood, she is unprepared for the startling changes that have occurred since the American occupation. She gets on famously with the burly Japanese producer who is strenuously turning out a new picture every week; she joins in the casting and in the search for the sets that are needed, including a fishing village, a live volcano, and a tidal wave. Then comes the long-distance telephone call telling her of Tom's death, and back over the bridge she hurries. When she is released from the shock, she returns to Japan a different woman, lonelier, more given to reverie and to walking by herself. By day she is a buffer in the tense struggle between the Japanese producer and the American director; by night in the empty hotel room she finds consolation in reliving her happiness with her editor. At all times she is observing and judging the Japanese character, and these findings fill some of the most fascinating pages in the book.

"The Japanese woman," says Mrs. Buck, "has always been stronger than the Japanese man, for, like the Chinese woman, she has been given no favors." Mrs. Buck notes the effect of American courtship, of intermarriage between Japanese girls and American soldiers, and of the orphans who are cared for in organizations run by her friend Miki. She cites the courage of these people living on their dangerous islands, where there is an average of four earthquakes or tremors a day; and she remarks the combination "of delicacy and strength, of tenderness and cruelty … usual in the work of Japanese writers." This book will be a touchstone for those made desolate by sorrow, and in writing it Mrs. Buck lifts our spirits as she revives her own.

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This section contains 577 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Critical Review by Edward Weeks
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