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Lot #13
Pearl S. Buck

Drafts of the Nobel laureate's book reviews

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Drafts of the Nobel laureate's book reviews

AMS, signed twice with her initials, "P. S. B.," nine pages, 8.5 x 11, circa March 1941. A series of drafts for book reviews by Buck to be published in Asia Magazine. The manuscript begins with a brief passage on "The autobiography of Jawaharlal Nehru…entitled Toward Freedom…the new edition, which contains a valuable new chapter that brings it up to date." On the next page, headed "Asia Column," Buck writes: “Out of the Night, by Jan Valtin, is a book like none other that has ever been written. It is difficult to define exactly its unique quality and significance, but it has both these. The material is not in itself new. It is, superficially, the story of a German communist who was sent to work in underground activities for communism in many countries…among which were the United States and China. The book contains no propaganda. It is the story of a man so shaped by the circumstances of his time…that he was captured by communism…[For Communism] might be substituted almost any other impersonal power which has laid hold of human individuals and used them and dehumanized them.” After a discussion of the book’s contents, she concludes that “It all makes a book which everyone ought to read who believes in the dignity of the individual.”

She next turns to “Workers Before And After Lenin by Manya Gordon…an examination into the conditions of the Russian labor for the last fifty years, and a comparison of the conditions of working people in that country now…The book begins with an account of the gains which labor was making before the revolution.” Rebelling against oppression and exploitation, “The unions did not at once realize that they would be in exactly the same relation to the Soviet government as they were to their former capitalist employers…with one difference. Under the old system they could strike and arbitrate and negotiate. Under the new regime they lost all such rights.” She writes of the author’s conclusion: “If she is right and if the people of Russia are once more fighting for liberty…it brings them back into the world of peoples.” She reviews two other works more briefly, “Chinese Homes and Gardens…a joy to possess,” and “The Maori People Today,” a collection of symposium essays. She notes that “it has been taken for granted that the white man in New Zealand has treated the Maori with unusual justice and mercy,” but the collection shows there was “no unusual goodness on the part of the white conquerors.” Buck signs her initials after each of these last two reviews, the first in pencil. Buck makes numerous corrections and deletions throughout the manuscript. In fine condition, with a staple to the upper left corner.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: August
  • Dates: #527 - Ended May 09, 2018

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