Tuesday, August 21, 2012

赛珍珠 Pearl S. Buck, the education of

If I were to pick one Nobel laureate in literature in the 20th century, I would pick Pearl S. Buck mostly because I think she had the highest quality education out of anyone in the 20th century. She was ostracized racially and by gender yet she also experienced what it might feel like to be one of the oppressors. She knew wealth, especially late in her life but was born poor relative to her American cousins but also in comparison to the privilaged Chinese intellectuals she considered her peers. She was born to be a Christian evangelical but was a religious outcast in her community in Qingjiang. She was patriotic but that country, after expelling her at gunpoint and labeling her a cultural imperialist, still does not recognize her as one of their own. If her affair with the poet Xu Zhimo dubbed Chinese Byron was true, then she also knew of romantic love, loveless marriage, and romantic partnership later in life. She had a daughter who would never be able to learn to learn but also adopted umpteen ones upon whom she lavished affection, education, and a 7 million dollar estate. Such an education must have been unmatched in the 20th century, though I hope that it might be less rare in the 21st. 

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