About the Work
Portrait of a Marriage is Pearl S. Buck’s 1941 novel about the complexities inherent in marriage. The first edition contained illustrations by Charles Hargens and it was originally serialized in a truncated form in Redbook magazine under the title A Man’s Daily Bread.
“Marriage is so profound an experience,” William wrote to his grown daughter, “I should be sorry if you missed it. It takes place sometimes between two who are unsuited, but still it is profound.”
“Surely no two could have seemed less suited than he and Ruth – he a sensitive artist, son of a rich and proud family, widely traveled, cosmopolitan, and she the unlettered daughter of a farmer. She could never come into his world, and he came into hers – giving up, for their deep love, his family and fame and almost all else that he had known. Yet at the end of nearly fifty years he could think, with gratitude to her, how rich his life had been, how little he had lost to gain happiness.
This story of the marriage of a couple so unlike, tells also of the curious exchange of traits – her beauty in this child, his ranging mind in that one, her strength here, his delicate touch there – and in a grandchild the sudden thrust of his genius.
Always in Pearl Buck’s novels the people quickly become far more important than the setting or the period, and perhaps this is why critics so often apply to her themes the large term ‘universal.’ But it is interesting that the scene of Portrait of a Marriage is the Pennsylvania countryside in which she has lived for the past ten years.”
-from the inside flap of the dust jacket to the 1st edition 2nd impression copy of Portrait of a Marriage by Pearl S. Buck