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Frank Morris
Frank Morris. 27 July 2022

Author Pearl S. Buck - Conscious memories of China and America as I see them

Her name was Pearl Sydneystricker. She went to China a few months after her birth in America in 1892. Her mother and father were occupied in their extraordinary mission work.

Pearl’s life in China was bizarre. She was tutored simultaneously as a Chinese child both there and in America. She settled in America in 1935. She spent forty years in China and 40 years in America.

“China is more than part of me. She is in my heart-and-soul and mind.

“My first conscious memories are of her people and her landscapes. They formed my childhood world, they shaped my adolescent years, and they brought me to my maturity.

“Chinese in education and feeling, I knew I was American on the day I very nearly lost my life at the hands of a Communist army. They invaded the city where I lived.

“I have never returned to China since, and it may be that I never shall.

“But through the years of exile from China I have continued to learn everything I could about the strange new life that is going on there. From time to time, I have written of China and her people, hoping to help my American people to understand the Chinese better; as somehow we must.

“These papers have been gathered together in a book. The book is timely. For soon we shall see changes in Chinese attitudes toward the outer world, or so I believe. And we must be ready.

“Even old tigers like Mao Tse-Tung and Chiang Kai-shek cannot live forever. There is always a tomorrow."

Pearl at six-years-old.

I crisscross America; the variety is bewildering 

“Though I came as a stranger to my country, having lived in China since my birth; nevertheless, I was actually born in the United States. I like the combination.

“To be born in a country provides a natural anchor there. I am permanently American. To return as a stranger, however, also has its advantages.

“I see my country with the sharply observing eye of a stranger. Everything is new to me. There are no memories to blur the edges. I see my country (as a) whole.

“Eight times I have crossed the United States from East to West. Uncounted times, I have travelled from North to South. I have visited each State with the exception of Alaska at least once; and some I have visited many times.

“I came back from these journeys to our many states, awed and overwhelmed by the natural beauty of our country. The variety is bewildering.

“The highest mountains, the deepest canyons, the wildest rivers, the greatest lakes, the widest deserts, the richest farmlands, the beautiful seacoasts, the vast resources in mining, forests and industry.

“We have everything”.

Pearl B. Buck was born in 1892 and died in 1973.

<< These are notes from the books China As I See It and Pearl S. Buck’s America. The Saturday Evening Post, 1972.

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