New York: Day, 1931. First Edition. Hardcover. 1st edition, 1st printing with John Day’s imprint on the copyright page, and “flees” on page 100, better yet, it’s the 1st issue binding in pictorial wrappers (for advance distribution), and of the 50,000 copies of the 1st printing, only 1,000 or so (2%) were in wrappers, so it’s 50 times rarer than the hardbound state for about 50% more money, demonstrating again that the bargains are still at the top of the market. And there’s more. It’s signed by Buck, in ink, on the half title. And it’s a complete copy with the publisher’s tipped in, fold out flyer announcing Book Club selection. And best of all, it’s in fine condition (copies of this book are not seen in strictly fine condition), fresh, clean, and solid, and quite a fragile item, and a rare one when it’s in the wrappers binding in such condition. From at least some perspective, the best copy in the world. Fine. Item #916
Pearl Buck was born in West Virginia in 1892 but her missionary parents took her to China when she was just a few months old. She came home for college at Randolph–Macon, returned to China in 1914, taught for 10 years in Nanking, then revisited the U. S. in 1924 to earn a master’s degree at Cornell. Once back in China, she wrote The Good Earth. It won her a Pulitzer Prize in 1932, The William Dean Howells medal in 1935, and her Nobel Prize for literature in 1938. It remains her masterpiece, a bittersweet social chronicle written with a detached, pastoral style, set in northern China during the early years of the 20th century, and following the cycles of birth, marriage, and death in the Chinese family of Wang Lung. The good years of plentiful harvest and healthy children are balanced by times of near starvation and stillborn pregnancy. Wang Lung finally becomes wealthy but his grown sons, for whom he has worked so hard, have no respect for their father's love of the land, and only scheme to sell his property as soon as he dies.