Pearl S. Buck | Critical Review by J. C. Long

This literature criticism consists of approximately 2 pages of analysis & critique of Pearl S. Buck.
This section contains 535 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
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Critical Review by J. C. Long

SOURCE: "In Japan, Relief from Grief," in Saturday Review, Vol. 45, No. 27, July 14, 1962, p. 31.

In the following review, Long traces the three interwoven elements of Buck's A Bridge for Passing.

Pearl Buck's beautifully written book [, A Bridge for Passing,] contains in its short compass a triple message, and the three elements are so interwoven that no one theme predominates.

The springboard of Miss Buck's narrative is her experience as a participant in the American-Japanese motion picture production of her book The Big Wave, and in that connection she notes that movie executives and actors are of the same breed the world over. Nevertheless, Miss Buck found a special charm in the modern Japanese: their customs, kindliness, artistic qualities, and technical skills. She regards the brutal era, when the military dragged Japan into World War II, as a passing and uncharacteristic phase. Also she reports that the American Occupation was carried on in a way to encourage friendship and confidence between the two peoples. Here is a message for international good will.

However, Miss Buck undertook this film to assuage her agony over the death of her husband. Anyone who has suffered the loss of a loved one knows that desperate feeling of finality and rebellion against fate. For them the novelist's experience reveals that time and active, sympathetic interest in the lives of others are the great healers.

Her book is in the tradition of widows who have a compulsion to exorcise the pain of their bereavement by public tribute to the one who has passed beyond. (There does not seem to have been the same compulsion in male writers.) Some may recall An American Idyll, by Cornelia Parker, or, again, Death of a Man, by Lael Wertenbaker. Those two women write in the spirit of stoical endurance. In contrast, in A Man Called Peter Catherine Marshall testifies to a great strength and benediction coming from the grace of God and assurance of the divine purpose.

Pearl Buck's attitude lies somewhere between resignation and hope of heaven. She considers herself to be scientific rather than religious; in fact, she seems hardly to have heard of the Christian affirmation of immortality. However, she accepts a belief in eternal life as a reasonable working hypothesis fully as reasonable as a negative insistence.

She writes:

I am trained in science. There are two schools in the approach. One is to believe the impossible an absolute unless and until it is proved the possible. The other is to believe the possible an absolute unless and until it is proved the impossible. I belong to the latter school. Therefore all things are possible until they are proved impossible—and even the impossible may only be so, as of now.

There is a third message in this book, namely, that for the man or woman who has had a disastrous first marriage the future nevertheless may hold romance. Both Pearl Buck and her husband, Richard J. Walsh, who had been president of The John Day Company which publishes Miss Buck, had been married previously and unsatisfactorily, and yet for twenty-five years they had a union of the greatest mutual devotion.

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This section contains 535 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Critical Review by J. C. Long
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