Buck, Pearl S.: Dragon Seed
(researched by Rebekah Sparks)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description

1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)

Pearl S. Buck. Dragon Seed. New York: The John Day Company, 1942. Copyright, 1941, 1942 By Pearl S. Buck Parallel First Editions: In Canada: Dragon Seed. Toronto: Macmillan & Co., 1942. In England: Dragon Seed. London: Macmillan & Co., 1942.

2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?

The first American edition was published in a trade cloth binding.

3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available

4 Pagination

192 leaves, pp. [6] [1-2] 3-378

5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?

Includes publisher's advertisement for other books by Pearl S. Buck on second page not included in sequence. The book is not edited. There is a brief epigraph that features two prints of Chinese characters followed by very brief summary of the lore of dragons in Chinese culture.

6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?

The title page (non-sequenced page 3) features a small vignette. The illustration, in black and white, depicts a house with a small field before it. No credit is given to an illustrator.

7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available

8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)

The page size is approximately 8" x 6" with a .5" top margin, 1" side margin, and a 1.5" bottom margin. As a result of this, the text is slightly more concentrated on the top part of the page. Nevertheless, the presentation of the text is reasonably attractive and fairly easy to read. The typeface is somewhat small but clearly printed and there is a decent amount of spacing between the lines, aiding in the book's readability. The book uses the font Garamond and is 100R.

9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available

10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)

The wove paper is mostly white, smooth, with deckle edge on the side and straight edge on the top and bottom. There is some yellowed discoloration along the edges as well as towards the inside of the binding. Some pages appear worn and have tears missing from them. Overall, however, the condition is good.

11 Description of binding(s)

The front and back covers, as well as the spine, made of brown cloth with gold gilt lettering and ruled border surrounding a blind-stamp of the illustration from the title page. Title of the book printed above the illustration with the author's name below it. This same image is also featured along the spine. Includes dust jacket. Transcription of front cover: DRAGON | SEED | PEARL S. BUCK Transcription of spine (written horizontally): DRAGON | SEED | PEARL S. BUCK | JOHN DAY

12 Transcription of title page

DRAGON | SEED | by Peal S. Buck | [vignette] | THE JOHN DAY COMPANY | New York

13 JPEG image of title page, if available

14 Manuscript Holdings

Pearl S. Buck donated her manuscripts to the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace Foundation before she died. Despite legal controversies surrounding this decision, the Birthplace Foundation retains the rights to her manuscripts and houses them in the Annie Merner Pfeiffer Library at West Virginia Wesleyan College.

15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)

Very worn dust jacket torn in half at the spine with chips and tears all along the edges. Yellow and brown discoloration prominent on the white, inside panels. The red exterior has faded considerably along the spine. The image on the front of the dust jacket, created in a pen and watercolor illustration using red, yellow and black, depicts two Chinese farmers in a field with a small house and mountain range in the distance. The back cover of the dust jacket highlights other novels by Pearl S. Buck, listing their titles, price and providing either a summary or quote from a reviewer. In large typeface the dust jacket highlights her Nobel Prize in 1938. One tear in the middle of the back appears to be from the removal of a sticker. There are a collection of pen and highlighter marks in the back. The first inside flap includes a summary of Dragon Seed while the second flap reviews a recent release by the author. Flaps are marked by the most yellow and brown discoloration. Owner bookplate on the front endpaper with former owner's name scribbled out.

Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History

1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A

The John Day Company did not issue the book in more than one edition.

2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available

3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available

4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?

Known: 1942 printing (1st impression) 1964 printing (6th impression) 1967 printing 1968 printing 1970 printing (11th impression)

5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A

Additional printings/editions in parentheses Open Road Integrated Media (ebook), 2012 Buccaneer Books, 2006 (2007) Random House, 1997 Moyer Bell, 1984 (1992, 1996, 1999, 2006, 6th print. 2010 ) Oxford University Press, 1982 [abridged] (1986, 1993, 1994 2nd ed. 2008) Simon & Schuster, 1967 Pan Books, 1965 (1972) Landsborough Publications, 1959 Methuen, 1949 (2nd edit. 1959, 1964, 1976) Pocket Books, 1946 (1948, 5th print. 1966, 6th print. 1967, 1969, 1972, 1973, 1981) Triangle Books: The Blakiston Company, 1945 (1946, 1961) Reprint Society, 1943 Sun Dial Press, 1943 The Continental Book Company, 1942 (1943, 1945, 2 tr. 1947) P.F. Collier, 1942 Macmillan & Co., (1942, 1972)

6 Last date in print?

The most recent print edition was published in 2010 by Moyer Bell. The book was last published in ebook form in August 2012 by Open Road Integrated Media.

7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)

Little information regarding this number can be found. A John Day Co. employee told a Time reporter though that "two best sellers from Pearl Buck (1941-1942) had tided over the house in an otherwise bad year." Suggesting that a fairly significant number of copies were sold.

8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)

354,500 copies sold in its first 3 weeks. 400,000 of the original edition sold. 290,000 copies printer for the Book-of-the-Month Club

9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)

New York Times August, 24 1941. Page 99 "A new novel by Pearl S. Buck starts in September. Asia. Now at all newstands 35¢. Dragon Seed like The Good Earth and The Mother, tells of the plain people living close to the soil of China - now invaded but unconquerable. February 1, 1942. Page BR23 "On the closing page of "The Good Earth" Wang Lung said: 'If you hold your land you can live - no one can rob you of land.' ... and now Pearl Buck picks up the same theme again in her new novel DRAGON SEED; when the Japanese invaders come. others flee, but the farmer Ling Tan stays to defy them, saying: 'I will stay here whoever comes and keep this land mine.' And his wife Ling Sao says, 'And i will stay with you.' DRAGON SEED Pearl S. Buck's first novel of China in three years. In Dragon Seed Pearl S. Buck, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, gives to American readers the first story about the people who cling valiantly to their "good earth" in regions held by the Japanese." This full page advertisement includes 2 quotes from positive reviews, 2 illustrations and a photograph of Pearl S Buck. March 1, 1942 "The Best Selling Novel of 1942. Pearl S. Buck's best novel takes America by storm." Includes a number of reviews from various periodicals at the time.

10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available

11 Other promotion

Shortly following Dragon Seed's initial publication The John Day Company released The Story of Dragon Seed a fifteen page, limited edition (600 copies), hardbound booklet for a presentation by the "East and West Association." None were, apparently, sold.

12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A

Film Dragon Seed was released in August 1944 by MGM. It was directed by Jack Conway and starred Katharine Hepburn and Walter Huston. Its official run time was 148 minutes and was 15 reels long, the entire film is presented in black and white. Genre: War Drama. None of the film was actually filmed in China, primary shooting location was Los Angeles - specifically Chinatown. It was the 7th most popular film of 1944 and those involved received 2 Academy Award Nominations. While Pearl S. Buck told the public she was "generally pleased" with the film, privately she believed that the movie was "wrong in almost every detail." Audio Cassettes In 1974 Bill Shepherd narrated an audio cassette version of Dragon Seed. While the Library of Congress Catalog did not include the number of cassettes the recording is attributed to the Certon Corporation. Mitzi Friedlander narrated a three cassette audio version of the book in 1986 stored in the Library of Congress. Audiobook In 2010, Oasis Audio released an audiobook version of Dragon Seed using the unabridged SpringWater publication and narrated by Adam Verner. At this time (2/2014) the audiobook is only available in English.

13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A

Pearl S. Buck. No translator given. Dragon Seed . Stockholm: Continental Book Company, 1943. [Swedish] Pearl S. Buck. Translated: Peder Hesselaa. Dragesæd . København : Jespersen og Pios Forlag, 1946. [Danish] Pearl S. Buck. Translated: Daofan Zhang; Jiayu Wang. 龍種 /Long Zhong . Chongqing: Zheng zhong shu ju, 1947. [Chinese] Pearl S. Buck. No translator given. Fils de Dragon . Paris: J'ai Lu, 1950. [French] Pearl S. Buck. Translated: Hadasah Shapira. Zeraʻ Ha-Draḳon .Tel-Aviv: M. Mizrarhi, 1964. [Hebrew] Pearl S. Buck. Translated: Giorgio Monicelli. Stirpe di Drago . Milan: A. Mondadori, 1965. [Italian] Pearl S. Buck. Translated: Oksan Okandan. Ejder Tohumu . Istanbul: Ararat Kitabevi, 1968. [Turkish] Pearl S. Buck. Translated: Nika Miličević. Zmajevo Seme . Beograd : Rad ; Novi Sad : Matica srpska, 1980. [Serbian] Pearl S. Buck. Translated: Aḥmad Aāz̲ī. Nasl-i azhdahā . Tihrān : Nāḥid, 1992. [Persian] Pearl S. Buck. No translator given. Putra-Putra Naga . Jakarta: Gramedia Pustaka Utama, 1995. [Indonesian] Pearl S. Buck. Translated: Guohua Ding; Yin'gen Wu; Feng Liu. 龙子 /Long zi . Guilin Shi: Lijiang chu ban she, 1998. [Chinese] Pearl S. Buck. No translator given. Phan Mangkon . Krung Thēp : Samnakphim Dokyā, 1999. [Thai] Pearl S. Buck. No translator given. Hạt giống của rồng . Hồ Chí Minh : Văn Nghệ, 2001. [Vietnamese] Pearl S. Buck. Translated: Vilma Jürisalu. Idatuul läänetuul Draakoni seeme . Eesti Raamat, 2003. [Estonian] Pearl S. Buck. Translated: Anna Bartkowicz. Smocze ziarno . Warszawa : Warszawskie Wydawnictwo Literackie Muza, 2008. [Polish] Pearl S. Buck. Translated: Juan G de Luaces. La Estirpe del dragón . Barcelona : Debolsillo, 2009. [Spanish]

14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A

Serialized Asia Magazine: September, 1941-February, 1942. Excerpt also published in Ladies' Home Journal: August, 1942, pages 13-15.

15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A

Sequel: Pearl S. Buck. The Promise . New York: The John Day Company, 1943. Officially announced as the sequel to Dragon Seed , The Promise continued the Tan family's tale as the war began to expand.

Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author

1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)

For a biographical overview of Pearl S. Buck's life see entry for The Good Earth In 1938 Pearl Buck became the first American woman to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. This honor proved controversial, however, according to biographer Peter Conn as, “Pearl’s Asian subjects, her prose style, her gender, and her tremendous popularity offended virtually every one of the constituencies that divided up the literary 1930’s. Marxists, Agarians, Chicago formalists, New York intellectuals, literary nationalists, and New Humanists …could all agree that Pearl Buck had no place in any of their creeds and canons” (Conn 210). The Nobel Committee, by contrast, praised her aesthetics and commended her position as "interpreter of China to the western world," since never before had a writer, “so personally shaped the imaginative terms in which America addresses a foreign culture,” (National Encyclopedia of American Biography 67, Conn xiii). In January 1942 Buck published Dragon Seed, a novel following a peasant family in the late 1930’s during the Japanese occupation of China. Loosely inspired by her own history in the country, Buck also interviewed farmers from the Nanking area, using their experiences to define the structure of this otherwise fictional story. Politically, the novel could not have been released at a better time (just a month after the attack on Pearl Harbor) as it sought to “arouse sympathy for the Chinese cause” and encourage Allied involvement in the Pacific War (Doyle 109). Despite receiving generally positive reviews for Dragon Seed, the criticisms surrounding her Nobel Prize haunted Buck, altering the quality of her work forever. In this way, the novels she published in the years immediately following her win ultimately marked the turning point in the gradual decline of her literary reputation. Motivated to distance herself from a purely literary-identity, Buck became involved in an array of different philanthropic and humanitarian causes throughout the World War II era. The common thread driving her involvement was her desire for universal human equality. She openly fought against the racial discrimination of African-Americans in the military and within the country, arguing that if such discrimination continued in the United States, “then we are fighting on the wrong side on this war. We belong with Hitler,” (Conn 260). She joined the NAACP, chaired the Committee against Racial Discrimination, and also served as a trustee at Howard University for a number of years. In 1941 she and her husband formed the East and West Association in an effort to “to promote greater understanding among the world's peoples” (Encyclopedia of World Biography). The couple also served on a committee to repeal the Chinese Exclusion Act, a law which prevented Chinese immigration to the United States. Her enthusiastic activism stirred suspicion within the FBI who kept her under surveillance for a number of years during the war. She was a woman ahead of her time politically and over the course of her life “received more than three hundred humanitarian awards” (Liao 7).

Works Cited Conn, Peter J. Pearl S. Buck: A Cultural Biography. New York: Cambridge UP, 1996. Print. Doyle, Paul A. Pearl S Buck. Ed. Kenneth E. Eble. Revised ed. Boston: Twayne, 1980. Print. Liao, Kang. Pearl S. Buck: A Cultural Bridge Across the Pacific. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1997. Print. Manelius, Lauren. "Pearl S. Buck." Pearl S. Buck. N.p., Spring 2007. Web. 02 Mar. 2014. . Parini, Jay, and Philip W. Leininger, eds. "Pearl S Buck." The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature. N.p.: Oxford UP, 2004. 2005. Web. 2 Mar. 2014. . "Pearl S. Buck." Contemporary Authors Online. N.p., 22 Sept. 2004. Web. 2 Mar. 2014. . "Pearl S Buck." Encyclopedia of Modern China. N.p., 2009. Web. 2 Mar. 2014. . "Pearl S Buck." The National Encyclopedia of American Biography. Vol. E. New York: James T. White & Co., 1938. 66-67. Print.

Assignment 4: Reception History

1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)

The Good Earth took the world by storm in 1931, lingering at the top of bestsellers lists for two years, securing Pearl S. Buck the Pulitzer Prize and singlehandedly, many would argue, altering U.S. perceptions of China forever. In 1936, Buck wrote two acclaimed biographies, The Exile and Fighting Angel, about her mother and father respectively, which captured the attention of the Nobel Academy and inspired a flurry of critical attention. Following her Nobel Prize, however, Buck published four other novels met with minimal recognition. Dragon Seed , by comparison, was only a fleeting and minor exception from this newfound norm.
As Buck's second novel, The Good Earth appeared to set an impossibly high standard for future critical expectations and little she wrote could go without comparison. Nearly every review for Dragon Seed used The Good Earth as a standard of judgment. While some praised the novel as "well worthy to stand beside that remarkable book" others found it notably inferior (Babcock C5). Not a single review, however, dared to make the argument for Dragon Seed's superiority and, in fact, a review from The Atlanta Constitution argued that the primary reason for the novel's success relied on Buck's return to "the mood and to a certain degree, the pattern, of The Good Earth" ("Masterful Story" 4). This stylistic similarity, while a positive quality for many, came across as tired for some, as Clifton Fadiman wrote in The New Yorker, "Dragon Seed is a new Pearl Buck novel about old Pearl Buck people" (Fadiman 63).

A frequently citied Time review of the book entitled "Bloody Ballet" encapsulates some of the primary criticisms of Dragon Seed. The article, at one point, compares the novel to "powerful propaganda" and says later , "at her best (Buck) has a remarkable talent for telling a thing so that it seems not to be told about but actually to happen. Yet her narrative is never quite heroic and her superbly ordered peasant simplicities keep sieving-off into the remote beauties of ballet" ("Bloody Ballet" 82). Another reviewer alludes to this same obvious bias of Buck's, noting, "the iron hand of propaganda inside the beautifully embroidered soft glove of the novel" (Butcher 14). Without directly condemning Buck's sympathetic efforts, critics often commented on this blatant pandering. Likewise, most reviews also call attention to the "sieving-off" romance at the end of the novel, heavily criticizing this aspect of the story. The Mayli-love plot at the end is referred to by different critics as a "temporary lapse," "weak and unconvincing" and a "Hollywood recipe" (Thompson 15, Butcher 14, Liao 30).

"Bloody Ballet" closes optimistically stating, "when (Buck's) ballet is at its best, the living blood beats in it; enough to make this book the timeliest of sermons on the greatest human force among the Allies" ("Bloody Ballet" 82). Many other reviews praised Buck as well, highlighting her biblical style, form, characterization and tone. However, after only a few short months on various best sellers lists, the life blood of Dragon Seed slowed to its ultimate end, forgotten about critically for decades to come and overshadowed by its impending theatrical release and the next Buck novel The Promise.
Works Cited "Bloody Ballet." Time 39.4 (1942): 82. Academic Search Premier. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. "Masterful Story." The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945): 4. Feb 01 1942. ProQuest. Web. 17 Mar. 2014 . "Pearl Buck's Newest Novel about the Heroes of China." Daily Boston Globe (1928-1960): 17. Feb 05 1942. ProQuest. Web. 17 Mar. 2014 . Babcock, Elizabeth. "Pearl Buck Writes New China Classic" Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File): C5. Jan 25 1942.ProQuest. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. Brede, Alexander. "BOOK REVIEWS." The Far Eastern Quarterly (pre-1986) 1.4 (1942): 390. ProQuest. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. Butcher, Fanny. "BOOKS." Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963): 14. Jan 28 1942. ProQuest. Web. 17 Mar. 2014 Fadiman, Clifton. "Books." The New Yorker: 63. Jan 24 1942. 17 Mar. 2014. Liao, Kang. Pearl S. Buck: A Cultural Bridge Across the Pacific. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1997. Print. Rugoff, Milton. "Tragic Pastoral." The Washington Post (1923-1954): L10. Jan 25 1942. ProQuest. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. Thompson, Ralph. "Books of the Times." New York Times (1923-Current file): 15. Jan 22 1942. ProQuest. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. Woods, Katherine. "Pearl Buck's New and Exceptional Novel of China." New York Times (1923-Current file): BR3. Jan 25 1942.ProQuest. Web. 17 Mar. 2014.

2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)

The limited contemporary response to Dragon Seed was a mere precursor to the subsequent reception of Pearl Buck herself in the years following the book's release. Until her death in 1972, Buck released an average of one book per year over the course of her forty-four year career as an author. Despite this fact, notes biographer Peter Conn, even while she was still on the best sellers list in the 1940’s she was "rapidly becoming an invisible woman in literary history," (Conn 240). Today, many of those who still engage critically with her work argue that, "she survives only in caricature: as the author of a single book, The Good Earth, and as the undeserving winner of the Nobel Prize. Beyond that, she barely exists." (Lipscomb 1).

Academics today cite Buck's high volume of output for her critical decline over the years, arguing that "after 1939 she became more facile at constructing her plots, handling dialogue, and in the technical aspects of her craft," showing no "significant growth... no experimentation in technique … no attempt to penetrate more deeply into character analysis, no willingness to seek subtleties of tone or mood, and (she) indicated no interest in using myth or symbolism or other elements characteristic of the modern novel," (Contemporary Authors Online). Unable to adapt to a changing literary world, Buck gradually fell out of both critical and popular favor as she appeared to lose sight of quality for the sake of quantity.

Those who have, in more recent years, written reviews of Dragon Seed in their biographies of Pearl Buck tend to mirror the general critical response to the book at the time of its release. Many praise Buck's simplistic yet poetic style, highlighting her realism and ability to present the Chinese as neither "angels, nor devils, but human beings, who do what they are compelled to do" (Liao 70). If anything, time has only intensified criticism surrounding the novel's plotline depicting the romance between Mayli and Lao San. In his biography of Buck, Paul Doyle refers to this plotline as "the chief factor in the failure of Dragon Seed to achieve artistic success" and a disastrous "pitfall of the natural storyteller’s technique" (Doyle 108). Directly similar to the older reviews as well, current reviews criticize Dragon Seed today for its blatant propaganda and define the book in direct comparison to The Good Earth.

Today there is a small movement to try and bring Pearl Buck and her work in general back into critical favor. Many highlight the long-term implications of her novels in justifying their endeavor. A 1970 UNESCO survey revealed that "Buck was more frequently translated than any other American writer (145 different languages)," and historian James Thomson Jr. argued that Buck "remains the most influential Westerner to write about China since thirteenth-century Marco Polo," (Lipscomb 2). In China, Buck's work introduced a new direction in Chinese literature where many authors, either "consciously or unconsciously, followed her lead," and "began to publish works about the life of ordinary peasants and farmers," (Liao 122). For readers in both the East and the West, those who favor Buck contend that her "genius as a writer lay in her ability to portray her characters in a universal manner; their joys, sorrows, problems, and disillusionments transcend cultural barriers to become understandable to all readers" (Concise Dictionary of American Literary Biography). In advocating for the recognition of her long-standing, global influence as an author many hope to alter potential future reception of Pearl S. Buck. Works Cited "Pearl S Buck." Concise Dictionary of American Literary Biography. N.p.: n.p., 1998.Concise Dictionary of American Literary Biography. Gale Group, 16 Sept. 2004. Web. 5 Mar. 2014. "Pearl S Buck." Contemporary Authors Online. Gale Group, 22 Sept. 2004. Web. 8 Mar. 2014. . Conn, Peter J. Pearl S. Buck: A Cultural Biography. New York: Cambridge UP, 1996. Print. Corrigan, Maureen. "'Pearl Buck In China': A Child Across The Good Earth." Book Reviews. NPR. 10 June 2010. Radio. Doyle, Paul A. Pearl S Buck. Ed. Kenneth E. Eble. Revised ed. Boston: Twayne, 1980. Print. Doyle, Paul A. "Pearl S. Buck." Dictionary of Literary Biography. Ed. James J. Martine. Vol. 9. Detroit, MI: Gale Research, 1981. 98-103. Print. Liao, Kang. Pearl S. Buck: A Cultural Bridge Across the Pacific. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1997. Print. Lipscomb, Elizabeth Johnston., Frances E. Webb, and Peter J. Conn. The Several Worlds of Pearl S. Buck: Essays Presented at a Centennial Symposium, Randolph-Macon Woman's College, March 26-28, 1992. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1994. Print. Parini, Jay, and Phillip W. Leininger, eds. "Pearl S. Buck." Oxford Reference. Oxford University Press, 2005. Web. 10 Mar. 2014. .

Assignment 5: Critical Analysis

1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)

On December 7th, 1941, "a date which will live in infamy," the Empire of Japan staged its surprise aerial attack on the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor. Two hours and two thousand lost lives later, the "sleeping giant" officially awoke and the U.S. began its entry into the Second World War. On January 22, 1942, a mere month and a half following the attack, Pearl S. Buck released Dragon Seed – a novel depicting the Japanese invasion of China in 1937. Early in the novel the story's protagonist, Ling Tan, sets out to his fields one morning on "a day like any other it seemed" before looking to the sky and watching, in pure awe along with his sons and neighbors, the same "silver creatures in the sky" that would ultimately rein terror on Pearl Harbor (Buck 66, 67). Charmed at first by the rare sight, the farmers' sense of wonder fades quickly to horror as the procession turns violent, laying the neighboring city to waste as a mere precursor of the violence to come. In the book, the impending terror of the Japanese army ultimately awakens its own "sleeping giant" among the local farming communities in the story.

The striking way through which Buck's novel managed to resonate so overwhelmingly with the, at the time, contemporary experiences of the American population mirror the sentiments of James D. Hart regarding the bestseller. In The Popular Book he writes, "usually the book that is popular pleases the reader because it is shaped by the same forces that mold his non-reading hours, so that its dispositions and convictions, its language and subject re-create the sense of the present," (as quoted in Hackett 8). In fact, beyond mere plot-specific parallels, Dragon Seed manages to tap into the consciousness of the American public of the 1940's in multiple ways including: its connection to the social "coattail effect," by exploring and translating a foreign culture, and by adopting the taste for the American war novel. Together, these qualities allow Dragon Seed to effectively epitomize part of the bestseller phenomenon and define its place in critical and literary history.

Dragon Seed tells the tale of one family's fight for survival in the face of the Japanese invasion of Eastern China. Ling Tan, a wise and stoic farmer, and his wife Ling Sao, a fierce and lively woman, live alongside their children Lao Ta, Lao Er, Lao San and Pansiao as well as their eldest sons' respective families on a farm outside the city. Their lives are deeply intertwined with the land and governed by generations of tradition. What starts as rumors of emerging conflict escalate into the horrors of full-fledged war as bombs drop daily on the neighboring city and soon families across the country begin to flee from the Imperial Army's wake. Buck uses her simple, poetic prose to describe the collective movement and fear of the Chinese people as she depicts how they "poured like a flooding river out from the city over the countryside. And the stream of people from the city was joined by a greater stream from the east… the great river of moving people began to flow inland toward the west" (Buck 88). Ling Tan, most his family and the entire farming community refuse to abandon their land though and, instead, face the Japanese occupation. Through the eyes of this family, the reader experiences wartime suffering at the hands of the invaders: the murder of innocent civilians, rape, torture as well as ever-looming fear, starvation and disease. Underscoring this suffering is a tension between older customs and a newer innovation. While Ling Tang refuses to participate in any form of violence his son Lao Er and his wife Jade lead the community rebellion in fighting back against their captors, the entire family forced to accept that "the whole world in which they must live would never be the same again" (Buck 189). While the village succeeds in challenging the local military presence they are hardly a strong enough force to begin reclaiming the remainder of China and a long future of struggle stretches ahead. Despite this, the novel ends on a relatively optimistic, and also political, note. Huddled around the radio the townspeople listen to a report of "the meeting between the two great white men" who promise that their "sufferings and their resistances will not be in vain" (Buck 376). Through this conclusion, Buck manages to produce a glimmer of hope for the novel's central family while simultaneously calling for the United State's aid in China.

Dragon Seed was not Pearl S. Buck's first novel about China and it was hardly her last. Born in West Virginia but raised China she found her own identity split between the Eastern and Western worlds and sought ways to reconcile these two forces in her life. Her second novel, The Good Earth, managed to do just that and more. The book tells the story of a poor Chinese man, Wang Lung, as he tries to establish himself and start a family. Before he and his wife O-Lan settle down, though, they undergo extreme hardship and poverty until ultimately finding prosperity. Wang Lung's journey paralleled the experiences of thousands of Americans who were struggling to survive during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl at the time of the book's release. Buck's story resonated so strongly with the country, in fact, that The Good Earth remained the number one bestseller for two consecutive years (1931-1932), sold over two million copies, received the Pulitzer Prize, and influenced her later winning the Nobel Prize for Literature. In The Good Earth and throughout her career critics praised Buck for her rare insight to the Chinese people, "their character, culture, traditions and institutions," with many recognizing her as "the ablest interpreter of China to the Western world" (National Encyclopedia of American Biography 67). In fact, sociologist Harold Isaacs argued that "no single book about China had a greater impact than… The Good Earth," insisting that "for a whole generation of Americans [Pearl Buck] ‘created' the Chinese, in the same sense that Dickens ‘created'… Victorian England." (Isaacs 155). In Dragon Seed Buck succeeded in not only recreating many of the reasons for The Good Earth's success but she also managed to tap into a larger trend within the bestseller lists throughout history.

In politics, the coattail effect refers to the influence of a major leader in securing votes for additional candidates of the same party in an election. This notion of benefit, potentially undeserved, secured through associated popularity has been a reoccurring trend throughout bestseller history. While Dragon Seed is the second and only other book by Pearl Buck to ever make the bestsellers list, its similarities to The Good Earth are certainly enough to draw the power of this effect into question. In his biography of Buck, Paul Doyle directly compares the two novels citing their "same deep feeling for the value of the land," "same quiet tone," same "chronological approach," same "Zola-like Naturalism" and same exploitation of "sensational matter for a telling effect" (Doyle 109). Conn, in his biography, makes a very similar comment linking the two books through their "trademark Buck mannerisms – the quasi biblical style and the one-dimensional characters" (Conn 254-255). While parts of these comparisons are merely stylistic qualities potentially common throughout all of her writing, the content and the timing of these two stories certainly mirror each other as well. It is rare to find a review for Dragon Seed at its release that does not allude to The Good Earth and while the novel was ranked third on the bestsellers list for 1942 it showed little of the same longevity, with a bulk of the sales coming from the first few months of its release before being forgotten critically and academically almost entirely. Why would interest in a bestseller peak and fall so quickly? Despite the similarities between the two books Dragon Seed did receive criticism that The Good Earth did not. For example, many reviewers at the time were put-off by the Mayli and Lao San love-story, Doyle refers to it as "a disastrous attempt to insert romantic materials into a context of realism," a byproduct of an emerging Hollywood influence in literature (Doyle 108). A review from Time magazine captures another frequent complaint regarding the "not quite convincing effort, through radio, to give Ling Tan (and the U.S. reader) a realization that his people suffer not alone but as companions among the peoples of a planet" (Bloody Ballet 82). This blatantly obvious attempt at propaganda really bothered reviewers and ended up severely detracting from the plot for many. These frequently cited complaints critically may have been a disappointment for readers who may have initially expected a novel on the same caliber as The Good Earth; this could have contributed to the quickened fading out of the novel's popularity after its release.

Throughout the history of the bestseller list coattail success is often only recognized in the case of an author's subsequent failure to meet expectations. Otherwise, if an additional novel by a bestselling author is successful, its success is usually attributed to different factors – be it the plot, the style of the author, the theme, or other features. Authors like Tom Clancy, Michael Crichton, John Grisham, Stephen King and Danielle Steele benefit from this pattern of consumer behavior as their multiple bestsellers have managed to establish a loyal following, securing a future coattail effect regardless of the potentially varying quality of their work. Other authors experience a much briefer coattail effect, leaving the bestseller lists littered with "two-hit wonders." In this case, an author sees major commercial success with a single book and then one of his or her subsequent novels manages to piggyback off the success of the first, often to the disappointment of critics or fans, and the author never appears on the bestseller lists again. Louis Bromfield's The Rains Came (1937), Betty Smith's Tomorrow Will Be Better (1948), Peter Benchley's The Deep (1976), Erich Segal's Oliver's Story (1977) and William Styron's Sophie's Choice (1979) are all examples of these second-time successes that, according to their respective bestseller entries, benefitted heavily from their author's previous success but were often met with disappointment or very brief critical interest the second time around- a pattern Dragon Seed appears to follow as well. This trend spans decades of the bestseller lists and appears less of a factor from a single moment in American literary history than a long-term feature of the country's national psychology in terms of both literature and politics alike.

In addition to the broader patterns within the bestseller list, Dragon Seed also provides insight for a few period-specific trends within the lists as well. The 1940's was an important decade for opening up and expanding the world stage in revolutionary ways. World War II and the early beginnings of the Cold War brought different countries all over the world into direct conflict, while simultaneously the formation of the UN introduced a new notion of international diplomacy and connectedness. In this era decolonization within Asia and Africa released entire countries from European rule. These major global and political changes stirred American public interest of international peoples and cultures. Historically readers were accustomed to, if they chose to read fiction about a foreign country, stories that portrayed "cardboard figures either quaint, comic, or sinister, moving in a stilted, stylized fashion about an exotic and artificial stage not even intended to convince" (Twentieth Century Romance and Historical Writers). Pearl Buck challenged this norm, however, by not only writing rich and complex Chinese characters, but also by, according to critics today, using "her ability to portray her characters in a universal manner… (to) transcend cultural barriers and become understandable to all readers" (Concise Dictionary of American Literary Biography). The international-American novel was a major trend in the 1940's: Lydia Bailey (1947) explored Haiti, A Bell for Adano (1944) focused on Italy, Green Dolphin Street (1944) studied the Channel Islands and New Zealand, Night in Bombay (1940) introduced readers to India, while The Keys for the Kingdom (1941) and The Family (1940) both took place in China as well. While American readers were initially attracted to studying differences in culture through literature, it was the similarities of these countries to America that sustained their interest. In this way, a number of books from this era presented familiar storylines – like the romance novel, historical fiction - only transposed into foreign settings with foreign people to cater to this multi-faceted interest.

Dragon Seed further exemplifies this concept of "familiar diversity" in the way it adapts many of the qualities of the American war novel. According to Mary Favret in her book War at a Distance: Romanticism and the Making of Modern Wartime, "the advent of mass media" triggered a nation-wide desire for additional information and stories from the front while maintaining "a mediated relationship to distant violence," (Favret 13). For Dragon Seed, the thousands of miles between the U.S. and China certainly provided that sense of mediation, although the attack on Pearl Harbor forced many to question this distance as well. World War II was an especially popular topic in literature at this time, Norman Mailer's The Naked and Dead (1948), Ben Ames Williams' House Divided (1947), Irwin Shaw's The Young Lions (1948), Herman Wouk's The Caine Mutiny (1951), James Jones' From Here to Eternity (1951) and Nicholas Monsarrat's The Cruel Sea (1951) only scratch the surface of literary reactions during and immediately following the war. World War I, the Civil War and the Cold War have also been well-represented on the bestseller lists, though World War II in particular had a very distinct place in the hearts and minds of readers, as the subject was revived in the late 1950's to 60's as a response to the Cold War with Boris Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago (1958), Leon Uris' Mila18 (1961), and Katherine Anne Porter's Ship of Fools (1962). While nowadays a war novel will appear again, from time to time, on the bestseller lists, these two points in history specifically brought the World War II novel to the forefront of the American literary consciousness and culture.

In American Novel of War: A Critical Analysis and Classification System Wallis Sanborn highlights common feature and themes in the American war novel throughout history, many of which also appear in Dragon Seed. Despite the fact that the novels he discusses focus only on American soldiers at war, the Chinese farmers of Buck's novel manage to work interchangeably with his formula. Most simplistically, the novel follows the same linear style Sanborn discusses and engages in the stereotypical plot features one might expect: the death of fighting allies, the murder of noncombatants, the devastation of a community's entire infrastructure, war rhetoric, weaponry, large-scale relocation, and themes of prostitution. The novel takes an interesting approach to what Sanborn describes as the "opposition dyad between the occupying/invading forces and the indigenous/local people," by metaphorically pitting the main characters, whose lives are so incredibly intertwined with nature, against the violence and destruction of the invading forces (Sanborn 16). By juxtaposing rich figurative language with the darker realism of the story's violence, Buck creates a striking contrast for readers. While for Ling Tan she writes, "his man's mind could take the seed and fertilize it with his thought and bring it up to fruit and so he did," she adapts a very harsh tone in describing the rape of his youngest son, Lao San, writing, "they took this boy and used him as a woman… And Ling Tan, his gorge rising and his vomit in his throat… fell on the soldiers… (but) they bound them so that they must face the thing they did, and prodded them when they closed their eyes" (Buck 200). While try and try as the invading army might to stifle the life of this community, Ling Tan and his family perpetually spring back from the earth, as if reborn, ready to defend all that they have. While the novel certainly recognizes the distinctions between these Chinese farmers and their American soldier counterparts in literature, Dragon Seed effectively uses the tools of this subject in literature to resonate directly with American audiences throughout history.

Hart speaks to the temporality of the bestseller in The Popular Book , asserting that though, "[bestsellers] die away as soon as that present becomes the past" they remain "etched deeply into a national consciousness" (Hackett 8). Historically, the same can be said about Pearl S. Buck herself and Dragon Seed alike. While the two are often forgotten within literary criticism today, their significance and impact resonate nonetheless, although maybe below the surface. While Buck's influence in altering the perceptions of the Chinese throughout this country will forever linger, Dragon Seed itself contributes, in its own way, to the ongoing and ever adapting national consciousness. Transcending its own plot the novel speaks directly to tendencies within the country's popular culture by highlighting the impact of the coattail effect, the American approach to the international novel, and the place of the war novel in the bestselling literary canon. Through these attributes Dragon Seed offers a perpetual lens into the year 1942 that no other resource studied today will ever be able to provide. Works Cited "Bloody Ballet." Time 39.4 (1942): 82. Academic Search Premier. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. Buck, Pearl S. Dragon Seed. 1st ed. New York: John Day, 1942. Print. Conn, Peter J. Pearl S. Buck: A Cultural Biography. New York: Cambridge UP, 1996. Print. Doyle, Paul A. Pearl S Buck. Ed. Kenneth E. Eble. Revised ed. Boston: Twayne, 1980. Print. Favret, Mary A. War at a Distance: Romanticism and the Making of Modern Wartime. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2010. Print. Hackett, Alice Payne. "A Guide to Best Sellers." 70 Years of Best Sellers. New York: Bowker, 1967. 1-8. Print. Isaacs, Harold R. Scratches on Our Minds: American Views of China and India. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1958. Print. "Pearl S Buck." Concise Dictionary of American Literary Biography. N.p.: n.p., 1998.Concise Dictionary of American Literary Biography. Gale Group, 16 Sept. 2004. Web. 5 Mar. 2014. "Pearl S Buck." The National Encyclopedia of American Biography. Vol. E. New York: James T. White & Co., 1938. 66-67. Print. "Pearl S(ydenstricker) Buck." Twentieth-Century Romance and Historical Writers. Gale, 1994. Biography in Context. Web. 5 Mar. 2014 Sanborn, Wallis R. The American Novel of War: A Critical Analysis and Classification System. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2012. Web. 19 Apr. 2014. .

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