My Several Worlds Critical Context - Essay

Pearl S. Buck

Critical Context

Buck’s autobiography has appeal for those interested in what it is like to be an American growing up in a foreign culture, as more than one-third of My Several Worlds traces Buck’s life from birth to adulthood. The additional two-thirds reflects on the importance of an individual’s formative years. Those young people who wonder what becoming an adult is like and about an adult’s perspective of life will gain insight. The book has additional appeal because it is the story of one of the world’s great writers, as told in her own words. It is filled with references to her other works and becomes an annotated bibliography of her canon prior to 1953.

Stylistically challenging because of the juxtaposition of present and past, My Several Worlds has an unconventional literary style. This is an autobiography by a writer who enjoys telling her story and painting portraits of significant people in her life.

An abridged version of the book was created in 1957 for a younger audience and may appeal to those in the ten-to-thirteen age range. Yet, for young adults examining the complexity of life and trying to establish their philosophies of life and to reconcile childhood with adulthood, the unabridged version is preferred.