Monday, December 29, 2008

The Good Earth & Of Human Bondage

Two golden classics! I had read these a while back but wanted to read again when I came across them. I knew how getting on in one's life can change one's reading experience and these two books were no exception.

The Good Earth - By Pearl S Buck
I admit that when I first read Good Earth I knew it was a great book. But it is only when I read it recently that I was able to fully appreciate what Buck was trying to show in there. Not only was she able to portray the life of a farmer enslaved to seasonal weather changes but also the political and normal living conditions in China during the reign of the last emperor. She was raised in China and English was taught to her as a second language which probably accounts for her intuitive characterization of things Chinese. She did her college education in the US but went back to China after that. Buck won the Pulitzer Prize and later the Nobel Prize for her work. Read more about the author here. Wang Lung the farmer and his wife O-lan are such deep and real characters that you will not fail to empathize with them. More so with O-lan if you had been through a childbirth. Read more or rather all on the book here.

Of Human Bondage - By W Somerset Maughm
Another author of great insight who lived in post Victorian England around the same time as Buck and the likes of Faulkner, Virginia Woolf etc. I had read another book of Somerset Maughm before I had read this book long time back but can't remember it for the life of me. None of his book titles remind me of which other book was it. I remember reading it with pleasure but as one gets old I guess memory gets selective in what it wants to keep. It could be 'The Painted Veil' for all I know but 'Of Human Bondage' is the one that I remember from then and when I read it this time I skipped a few pages in between where the story seemed at a standstill. It was around a quarter into the book. Before and after it flowed well, esp after. This is the most biographical of Maughm's books who also lost his parents at an early age and was brought up by his uncle who was a Vicar. Having known this fact, all throughout the book I couldn't fail but see Maughm's face instead of Philip Carey's. Maughm's disability was not a clubfoot but rather that he stammered. Read here for more on Somerset Maughm, here to read the book and here for some details on the book.