A House Divided, the third volume of the trilogy that began with The Good Earth and Sons, is a powerful portrayal of China in the midst of revolution. Wang Yuan is caught between the opposing ideas of different generations.
After six years abroad, Yuan returns to China in the middle of a peasant uprising. His cousin is a captain in the revolutionary army, his sister has scandalized the family by her premarital pregnancy, and his warlord father continues to cling to his traditional ideals. It is through Yuan's efforts that a kind of peace is restored to the family.
Reading, the arts and physical activity clarify, explain, illustrate, and interpret life’s goods and bads.
One must examine A House Divided as the third part of the Good Earth Trilogy. The Good Earth, Sons, and this novel. First the good, then the bad (but no ugly to mention). The novels certainly have insight into humankind’s frailties; that we go through life not actually knowing what it is we are doing. These books are an in depth analysis of our everyday humankind undertakings – they show our innate biases, how we consider others and are we really perceiving the world realistically or with inborn predispositions. The books though lay these concepts out in a litany or list of very beautiful prose, but without much plot. Its teachings are repeated, and repeated and repeated so much that the read really became a bore. The first book, The Good Earth was enough. The next two were not an enjoyable read,
The Good Earth, is about a Chinese peasant, his love of the land and his rise to a princely state. Good. The second, Sons, is about his sons, and in particular one that becomes a (pseudo) warrior. A total bore to read and without any involving story. Just frustration after frustration following the stories lead character or brother. The last and our novel, A House Divided, follows the warrior’s son’s feckless search in life for who he should be. He is a wet noodle.
So there you have it, good teaching, poor plots, and just not enough there to read all three books. If you must then The Good Earth. The last, our book A House Divided, is bearable but to get any worth out of it you need to read Sons, and I just did not find the total read worth the effort. Yes, I know I gave Sons a fairly good accreditation. Looking back now, I can’t understand why?
Two last points. The books’ titles are more invigorating than the books’ stories. Yes, I know, how dare I not praise literature that won the Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes? Well 80 years ago China was an unknown and these tombs made known to the western world the nature and character of the Chinese peoples. Achievement one. As I have said they do very thoroughly examine human frailties. Achievement two. They are (were) valuable teaching tools written in a unique writing style. Achievement three. Worthy as study materials in the 1930s (and even today). Yes. As invigorating reads? No.
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