Popular Literary Figures in American Literature

One of the most popular literary figures in American literature is a woman who spent almost half of her long life in China, a country on a continent thousands of miles from the United States. In her lifetime she earned this country’s most highly acclaimed literary award.

The Pulitzer Prize, and also the most prestigious form of literary recognition in the world, the Nobel Prize for Literature. Pearl S. Buck was almost a household word throughout much of her lifetime because of her prolific literary output, which consisted of some eighty – five published works, including several dozen novels, six collections of short stories, fourteen books for children, and more than a dozen works of nonfiction. When she was eighty years old, some twenty – five volumes were awaiting publication. Many of those books were set in China, the land in which she spent so much of her life. Her books and her life served as a bridge between the cultures of the East and the West. As the product of those two cultures she became as the described herself, “mentally bifocal.” Her unique background made her into an unusual interesting and versatile human being. As we examine the life of Pearl Buck, we cannot help but be aware that we are in fact meeting three separate people: a wife and mother, an internationally famous writer and a humanitarian and philanthropist. One cannot really get to know Pearl Buck without learning about each of the three. Though honored in her lifetime with the William Dean Howell Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in addition to the Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes. Pearl Buck as a total human being, not only a famous author, is a captivating subject of study, to the Nobel and Pulitzer prizes. Pearl Buck as a total human being, not only a famous author, is a captivating subject of study.


(taken from 14 Exams in Preparation and Practice Exam for TOEFL p. 238-239)

Reading Comprehension

Bacteria are extremely small living things. While we measure our own sizes in inches or centimeters, bacterial size is measured in microns. One micron is a thousandth of a millimeter across. Rod shaped bacteria are usually from two to tour microns long, while rounded ones are generally one micron in diameter. Thus if you enlarged a founded bacterium a thousand times, it would be just about the size of a pinhead. An adult human magnified by the same amount would be over a mile (1, 6 kilometers) tall.

Even with an ordinary microscope, you must look closely to see bacteria. Using a magnification of  100 times, one finds that bacteria are barely visible as tiny rods or dots. One cannot make out anything of their structure. Using special stains, one can see that some bacteria have attached to them way – looking “hairs” called flagella. Others have only one flagellum. The flagella rotate, pushing the bacteria though the water. Many bacteria lack flagella and cannot move about by their own power while others can glide along over surfaces by some little understood mechanism.

From the bacteria point of view, the world is a very different place from what it is to humans. To a bacterium water is as thick as molasses is to us. Bacteria are so small that they are influenced by the movements of the chemical molecules around them. Bacteria under the microscope, even those with no flagella, often bounce about in the water. This is because they collide with the water molecules and are pushed this way and that. Molecules move so rapidly that within a tenth of a second the molecules around a bacterium have all been replaced by new ones even bacteria without flagella are thus constantly exposed to a changing environment.

(taken from 14 Exams in Preparation & Practice Exam TOEFL)