The Good Earth

The Good Earth Buck's view on Literature and Literary Theory

An important element to consider when reading a work by Pearl S. Buck is her vision of literature and literary theory. Undoubtedly, Buck was shaped in a great deal by the Chinese literary tradition, specifically by the tradition of storytelling. As discussed thoroughly in Paul A. Doyle's book, Pearl S. Buck, Buck valued the story above all things. Indeed, even her character development was influenced by the primacy that she granted to the story.

In Buck's eyes, the author should not let characters rule the work, but should instead let the narrative progress and in this way achieve its "natural" form. Also, she was not one to value ornate language or complex structures. Her writing is extremely straightforward and simple. Furthermore, she says that she would write for the people, not in order to create literature. For this reason there are critics that state that her work, though valuable, was never well-polished or fully realized.

It would be worthwhile to examine different authors' positions on the novel, the story, and literature and place them in dialogue with each other. What would you consider to be your stance on these issues? How do you place the value on form and on content and how do these two elements influence each other in a text?