The Foreign Service Journal, July-August 2022

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | JULY-AUGUST 2022 89 husband, gave further testimony to renewed interest from China in the once-scorned Bucks; he described a surge in Chinese con- tacts about his father’s research and historical land survey data, recently rediscovered at Nanjing Agricultural University. For those of us at the Shanghai consulate, the conference and related opening of a Pearl S. Buck Museum next to the restored family home offered an encour- aging signal of strong interest in this U.S. connection. Looking ahead to the then-upcoming celebrations of the 30th anniversary of U.S.-China relations, we took Zhenjiang’s fervor for its long-ago American “daugh- ter” as a good sign for the relationship. Four years later, Pearl Buck’s image in China received another boost when Nanjing University gained approval for the restoration of the campus house in which Buck lived with her husband, who created and headed the univer- sity’s department of agricultural economics. Another site, the cot- tage at the missionary retreat on Lushan, where Buck and her fam- ily spent some of their summers, also became a tourist attraction, featuring a mannequin of Buck at a desk. Whether these efforts represented an acceptance of Buck’s portrayal of China or an opportunity to capitalize on poten- tial tourist interest, her rehabilitation was well on the way. While remaining homesick for China throughout her life and heartbroken at being unable to return, Pearl Buck at least achieved a second life in the country that inspired her work and won her a Nobel Prize. n ary nationalists and New Humanists had little enough in common, but they could all agree that Pearl Buck had no place in any of their creeds and canons.” It didn’t help that Hollywood had cast the movie version of The Good Earth in yellow face, passing over Chinese American actress Anna May Wong in favor of German-born Luise Rainer, who won an Oscar for the 1937 role. But, many years later, the Chinese academics at the conference craved reassurance that Pearl Buck was still important in the U.S. My speech-prep research included asking my teenage niece, herself adopted from China, whether she had heard of The Good Earth ; Buck’s novel about struggling peasants in China is her best- known book and cited in her Nobel Prize. I decided to take her vague response as a yes, allowing me to assure my listen- ers that the book was on school reading lists in the United States. That message was well received. Pearl Buck’s home- town for childhood and early adulthood, Zhenji- ang, had started actively promoting the author’s legacy, renaming its pub- lic park Pearl Square and unveiling a monument at the Zhenjiang No. 2 high school where Buck studied and later taught. A newly opened museum showed Buck studying the Chinese classics and called her a “daughter of Zhenjiang.” The October 2008 conference attracted 100 participants, including several Buck family members from the United States and the board and execu- tive staff of Pearl S. Buck International, the charitable organization in Pennsylva- nia. At the conference, agronomist John Lossing Buck, the son of the author’s first The first edition cover of Buck’s 1931 classic novel. BETWEENTHECOVERS/WIKIMEDIA Declared a cultural landmark, the author’s former residence in Zhenjiang became the Pearl S. Buck Museum in 1992 after its restoration funded by the Chinese and American governments. Here is a room with Buck’s typewriter and portrait in the Zhenjiang museum. The façade of Buck’s former residence turned museum in Zhenjiang. COURTESYOFBEACAMP WIKIMEDIA