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Asian Studies


This paper focuses on Pearl Buck’s writing on women with bound feet in the Republic of China. In the 1920s and 1930s, a prominent theme in the would-be Nobel Prize Laureate Pearl Buck’s writing was the capricious fates of women with bound feet. Asia magazine published some of Buck’s earliest literary creations. Among them, “A Chinese Woman Speaks” (1926), “New Modes of Chinese Marriage” (1927), and “The First Wife” (1931 and 1932) gave sympathetic accounts of the mental and physical suffering of women whose hobbled feet became symbols of old fashions and ignorance in the new Republic. Through her keen observations, Pearl Buck called attention to the bodily, marital, and life crises that these women were going through, asking for compassion and solicitude. Although Buck was not the first Asia magazine contributor who wrote on Chinese women with bound feet, her voice was distinctive in that it came from the discernment of her lived experiences. Additionally, it is a realistic reflection of men’s privileges and women’s subjugation in the shifting marital relationships in Republican China.

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