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My Antonia (eBook)

Type: e-book
Genre: Literature & Fiction
Language: English
Price: ₹299
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Description

My Ántonia was Cather’s first novel to be considered a masterpiece—an evaluation that still holds true today. Published in 1918, the book established her reputation. Cather continued the focus on place and the emphasis on working-class people that had been ongoing in American literature since the local color movement of the late 1860s, but she brought the focus to a locale—America’s High Plains--that previously had not been explored in such depth. The novel’s characters are as important as setting, however, and Cather included social commentary on women’s rights as well as veiled references to sex.

About the Authors

Born in Virginia in 1873, Willa Cather moved to Red Cloud, Nebraska at age nine. It was life in Nebraska that most influenced her writing. She became fond of the new immigrants in the Plains: the Germans, Czechs, Russians, Scandinavians, and French settlers. She wanted to use her stories to make these new Americans understood as human beings, not just disregarded foreigners. She met Sarah Orne Jewett, who told her she needed to write about what she knew. Cather was humble enough to take the advice. She wrote O Pioneers! and dedicated the novel to Jewett. The title is from Walt Whitman, whom she also greatly admired.
Cather wrote an essay on what she called “the novel démeublé” in which she said novels of the time were over-furnished and would be better if shorter and sparer: “How wonderful it would be if we could throw all the furniture out the window, and along with it all the meaningless reiterations.” All her subsequent novels were shorter. The unfurnished novel became her craft. Although she was never awarded the Nobel Prize, when Sherwood Anderson won his, he insisted Cather deserved it more.
Unlike Anderson and another contemporary, Theodor Drieser, Cather does not judge humanity too harshly. Certainly she sees humanity’s faults and shortcomings, but she also sees its nobility and triumphs. She manages to be honest and critical without being damning and dispiriting. Whereas many Midwestern writers of the time disdained the sparse landscape and lack of culture, heading East as soon as they were able, Cather felt the opposite. She was stimulated by the Midwest , the Southwest, and the Western plains and wrote about these areas with great affection. You see this most clearly in The Professor’s House, where the West is symbolic of purity and the East of corruption and greed.
Cather was homosexual. While at the University of Nebraska, she used the nickname William and often dressed in boyish clothes. Her closest relationships were with women, and she spent the last thirty-five years of her life living with a New York City editor, Edith Lewis. She was, however, a private person and never publicly stated her sexuality. She also made little reference to homosexuality in her writing, and when she did, she treated the matter subtly and generally preferred exploring the subject with male rather than female characters. The most notable examples occur in The Professor’s House and in her short story “Paul’s Case.”
My Ántonia was Cather’s first novel to be considered a masterpiece—an evaluation that still holds true today. Published in 1918, the book established her reputation. Cather continued the focus on place and the emphasis on working-class people that had been ongoing in American literature since the local color movement of the late 1860s, but she brought the focus to a locale—America’s High Plains--that previously had not been explored in such depth. The novel’s characters are as important as setting, however, and Cather included social commentary on women’s rights as well as veiled references to sex.
Author and columnist Rebecca Traister, when asked by Ezra Klein during his New York Times podcast on March 19, 2021 if there was a book she rereads for the “sheer beauty of the prose,” replied, “For the beauty of the writing, I mean, I would say that my go-to is actually My Antonia by Willa Cather, which is a book I first read in high school and found slightly boring but beautiful, and then read again in my 20s and was just totally enraptured by and then have gone back to again and again and again as a beautiful piece of writing.”

Book Details

Publisher: Watersgreen House
Number of Pages: 148
Availability: Available for Download (e-book)

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