In a conversation with myself yesterday (I know, I know) I thought of this big blue old-school notebook and said, “You should just type that stuff up and put it into a book with the other little books in your Chinese cabinets.” So I dug it out of the old trunk that came over from somewhere with someone in my family and looked at it.
It’s the Pearl Buck project that I never finished. The notebook itself is an interesting relic — it and the printer paper which is that paper that had holes on both sides. Some of it is on regular legal sheets where I had typed it with my electronic typewriter. It was a cool typewriter with enough memory to erase a whole line of typing. The printer appeared when my neighbor loaned me his MacIntosh computer and printer while he was out of the country. He had to talk me into it, saying, “You’ll like it” to my “I don’t see why I need a computer.” This was 1985. Along with the project is a small file box filled with index cards with sources and annotations. That has been retyped onto some of these pages.
Looking at it yesterday I see I got lost in the project and it veered from Pearl Buck to Chinese literature. It wasn’t a total detour since the thesis of the project is that Pearl Buck is at least as much a representative of the Chinese literary tradition as the Western.
Though she spent her childhood and much of her adulthood in China, she was not allowed to return in 1972 when she applied. She had refugeed to the US in 1934 during the Anti-Japanese War. In recent years, she’s been “redeemed” in China.
[Pearl S. Buck] remained a Communist Party non-person until, in 1991, anticipating the centenary of her birth the following year, a group of Chinese scholars committed to the importance of her representations of China, proposed a national conference to re-consider her work and legacy. The proposal was approved by the provincial authorities in Jiangsu, where Buck had lived through most of her years in China, but then quashed at the ministerial level in Beijing. In 1997, another proposal was — how shall I put it? — semi-approved: Buck could be discussed but not named in the conference title. Instead, discussions of Buck’s writing were smuggled in under the rubric “Chinese-American Literary Relations.”(Peter Conn, “What the Remarkable Legacy of Pearl Buck Still Means for China” Atlantic Monthly, 2012)
It might have been that my little project could have “mattered,” if I’d finished it but two things came in the way, the major one was technology the secondary one (which was related to the first) was marriage. My neighbor came back, reclaimed his computer and printer, and I was left with the typewriter that was no long sufficient. The Good-X and I went shopping for a computer. I wanted a Mac. After all, my work was saved on disks the Mac could read (imagine that, disks…) But he was a Commodore fan and wanted me to have an Amiga, and as he was the breadwinner, he won. I began the task of retyping the whole thing (god forbid that computer systems in 1988 were universal) and gave up.
Thinking about that now, I wonder why the Good X who wasn’t going to actually USE that computer had anything to say about it at all? Just because he was a programmer? Hmmmm…
Anyway, “my” book has since been written and in China which is awesome and how it should be. But I was wondering; would you all go crazy if for a while you read something about Pearl Buck every time you opened my blog? I promise; it’s interesting and strange. And, if Bear, Teddy and I have a good ramble I will interrupt this program for a word from my sponsor (me). I need a project, and this seems like a good one. And, when I finish, I can jettison the historical notebook and its contents, lightening the old trunk by a good 7 pounds.