Set on the Nebraska prairie where Willa Cather (1873-1947) grew up, this powerful early novel tells the story of the young Alexandra Bergson, whose dying father leaves her in charge of the family and of the lands they have struggled to farm. In Alexandra's long flight to survive and succeed, O Pioneers! relates an important chapter in the history of the American frontier.Evoking the harsh grandeur of the prairie, this landmark of American fiction unfurls a saga of love, greed, murder, failed dreams, and hard-won triumph. In the fateful interaction of her characters, Willa Cather compares with keen insight the experiences of Swedish, French, and Bohemian immigrants in the United States. And in her absorbing narrative, she displays the virtuoso storytelling skills that have made her one of the most admired masters of the American novel.
Book Description A timeless tale of a strong pioneer woman facing great challenges.
One January day, thirty years ago, the little town of Hanover, anchored on a windy Nebraska tableland, was trying not to be blown away. A mist of fine snowflakes was curling and eddying about the cluster of low drab buildings huddled on the gray prairie, under a gray sky. The dwelling-houses were set about haphazard on the tough prairie sod; some of them looked as if they had been moved in overnight, and others as if they were straying off by themselves, headed straight for the open plain. None of them had any appearance of permanence, and the howling wind blew under them as well as over them. The main street was a deeply rutted road, now frozen hard, which ran from the squat red railway station and the grain "elevator" at the north end of the town to the lumber yard and the horse pond at the south end. On either side of this road straggled two uneven rows of wooden buildings; the general merchandise stores, the two banks, the drug store, the feed store, the saloon, the post-office. The board sidewalks were gray with trampled snow, but at two o'clock in the afternoon the shopkeepers, having come back from dinner, were keeping well behind their frosty windows. The children were all in school, and there was nobody abroad in the streets but a few rough-looking countrymen in coarse overcoats, with their long caps pulled down to their noses. Some of them had brought their wives to town, and now and then a red or a plaid shawl flashed out of one store into the shelter of another. At the hitch-bars along the street a few heavy work-horses, harnessed to farm wagons, shivered under their blankets. About the station everything was quiet, for there would not be another train in until night [. . . ]
The first of Cather's renowned prairie novels, O Pioneers! established a new voice in American literature--turning the stories of ordinary Midwesterners and immigrants into authentic literary characters.
One of America's greatest women writers, Willa Cather established her talent and her reputation with this extraordinary novel--the first of her books set on the Nebraska frontier. A tale of the prairie land encountered by America's Swedish, Czech, Bohemian, and French immigrants, as well as a story of how the land challenged them, changed them, and, in some cases, defeated them, Cather's novel is a uniquely American epic. Alexandra Bergson, a young Swedish immigrant girl who inherits her father's farm and must transform it from raw prairie into a prosperous enterprise, is the first of Cather's great heroines--all of them women of strong will and an even stronger desire to overcome adversity and succeed. But the wild land itself is an equally important character in Cather's books, and her descriptions of it are so evocative, lush, and moving that they provoked writer Rebecca West to say of her: "The most sensuous of writers, Willa Cather builds her imagined world almost as solidly as our five senses build the universe around us."Willa Cather, perhaps more than any other American writer, was able to re-create the real drama of the pioneers, capturing for later generations a time, a place, and a spirit that has become part of our national heritage.From the Paperback edition.
O Pioneers!, Willa Cather's first great novel, is the classic American story of pioneer life as embodied by one remarkable woman and her singular devotion to the land. Alexandra Bergson arrives on the wind-blasted prairie of Nebraska as a young girl and grows up to turn it into a prosperous farm. In this unforgettable story,Cather conveys both the physical realities of the landscape, as well as the mythic sweep of the transformation of the frontier, more faithfully and perhaps more fully than any other work of fiction.
The son of a prosperous farmer, Claude Wheeler's future is laid out for him as clear and monotonous as the Nebraska sky--a few semesters at the local Christian college followed by marriage and a lifetime spent worrying about the price of wheat. Many young men would be happy to find themselves in Claude's shoes, but his focus is on the horizon, and on the nagging sense that out there, past the farthest reaches of the Great Plains and beyond the boundaries of convention, his true destiny awaits. When the United States finally enters the war raging in Europe, Claude makes the first, and greatest, decision of his life: He answers the call.<P><P> Pulitzer Prize Winner
Willa Cather's Pulitzer Prize-winning narrative of the making of a young American soldier<P><P> Claude Wheeler, the sensitive, aspiring protagonist of this beautifully modulated novel, resembles the youngest son of a peculiarly American fairy tale. His fortune is ready-made for him, but he refuses to settle for it. Alienated from his crass father and pious mother, all but rejected by a wife who reserves her ardor for missionary work, and dissatisfied with farming, Claude is an idealist without an ideal to cling to. It is only when his country enters the First World War that Claude finds what he has been searching for all his life.<P> In One of Ours Willa Cather explores the destiny of a grandchild of the pioneers, a young Nebraskan whose yearnings impel him toward a frontier bloodier and more distant than the one that vanished before his birth. In doing so, she creates a canny and extraordinarily vital portrait of an American psyche at once skeptical and romantic, restless and heroic.<P> BONUS: The edition includes an excerpt from The Selected Letters of Willa Cather.
The 42 page article was extracted from the book: Youth and the Bright Medusa, by Willa Cather.
His teachers felt this afternoon that his whole attitude was symbolized by his shrug and his flippantly red carnation flower, and they fell upon him without mercy, his English teacher leading the pack. He stood through it smiling, his pale lips parted over his white teeth. (His lips were continually twitching, and be had a habit of raising his eyebrows that was contemptuous and irritating to the last degree.) Older boys than Paul had broken down and shed tears under that baptism of fire, but his set smile did not once desert him, and his only sign of discomfort was the nervous trembling of the fingers that toyed with the buttons of his overcoat, and an occasional jerking of the other hand that held his hat. Paul was always smiling, always glancing about him, seeming to feel that people might be watching him and trying to detect something. This conscious expression, since it was as far as possible from boyish mirthfulness, was usually attributed to insolence or "smartness."
From one of America's major writers of the 20th century: five short stories celebrating the land and its pioneers, including the title story and "A Wagner Matinee," both revised by Cather for publication in 1920; "Lou, the Prophet" (1892), "Eric Hermannson's Soul" (1900), and "The Enchanted Bluff" (1909).
A study in emotional dislocation and renewal--Professor Godfrey St. Peter, a man in his 50's, has achieved what would seem to be remarkable success. When called on to move to a more comfortable home, something in him rebels.From the Trade Paperback edition.
Sapphira Dodderidge, a Virginia lady of the 19th century, marries beneath her and becomes irrationally jealous of Nancy, a beautiful slave. One of Cather's later works.From the Trade Paperback edition.
Uprooted from a well-ordered life in Virginia when she was nine, Willa Cather came of age in the West during the last years of the American frontier. She developed a love for the beauty of the open grassland and an abiding interest in the Old World customs of her neighbors, the dreamers and builders who inhabit her fiction. This collection includes work from the early part of Cather's career and clearly marks themes and landscapes that she would detail and explore for the remainder of her life. Alongside THE BOHEMIAN GIRL, Harper Perennial will publish the short fiction of Fyodor Dostoevsky, Leo Tolstoy, Herman Melville, Stephen Crane, and Oscar Wilde to be packaged in a beautifully designed, boldly colorful boxset in the aim to attract contemporary fans of short fiction to these revered masters of the form. Also, in each of these selections will appear a story from one of the new collections being published in the "Summer of the Short Story." A story from Lydia Peelle's forthcoming collection, REASONS FOR AND ADVANTAGES OF BREATHING, will be printed at the back of this volume.
This first publication of the letters of one of America's most consistently admired writers is both an exciting and a significant literary event. Willa Cather, wanting to be judged on her work alone, clearly forbade the publication of her letters in her will. But now, more than sixty-five years after her death, with her literary reputation as secure as a reputation can be, the letters have become available for publication. The 566 letters collected here, nearly 20 percent of the total, range from the funny (and mostly misspelled) reports of life in Red Cloud in the 1880s that Cather wrote as a teenager, through those from her college years at the University of Nebraska, her time as a journalist in Pittsburgh and New York, and during her growing eminence as a novelist. Postcards and letters describe her many travels around the United States and abroad, and they record her last years in the 1940s, when the loss of loved ones and the disasters of World War II brought her near to despair. Written to family and close friends and to such luminaries as Sarah Orne Jewett, Robert Frost, Yehudi Menuhin, Sinclair Lewis, and the president of Czechoslovakia, Thomas Masaryk, they reveal her in her daily life as a woman and writer passionately interested in people, literature, and the arts in general. The voice heard in these letters is one we already know from her fiction: confident, elegant, detailed, openhearted, concerned with profound ideas, but also at times funny, sentimental, and sarcastic. Unfiltered as only intimate communication can be, they are also full of small fibs, emotional outbursts, inconsistencies, and the joys and sorrows of the moment. The Selected Letters is a deep pleasure to read and to ponder, sure to appeal to those with a special devotion to Cather as well as to those just making her acquaintance.
This landmark anthology chronicles more than 500 years of Pueblo culture. Lavishly designed in five colors, this eminently readable volume offers a story and mood for everyone and an authentic introduction to the cultural legacy of the ancient peoples of the Southwest.
"Superbly written, with that sensitivity to sunset and afterglow that has always been Miss Cather's."--The New York TimesWilla Cather wrote Shadows on the Rock immediately after her historical masterpiece, Death Comes for the Archbishop. Like its predecessor, this novel of seventeenth-century Quebec is a luminous evocation of North American origins, and of the men and women who struggled to adapt to that new world even as they clung to the artifacts and manners of one they left behind.In 1697, Quebec is an island of French civilization perched on a bare gray rock amid a wilderness of trackless forests. For many of its settlers, Quebec is a place of exile, so remote that an entire winter passes without a word from home. But to twelve-year-old Cécile Auclair, the rock is home, where even the formidable Governor Frontenac entertains children in his palace and beavers lie beside the lambs in a Christmas créche. As Cather follows this devout and resourceful child over the course of a year, she re-creates the continent as it must have appeared to its first European inhabitants. And she gives us a spellbinding work of historical fiction in which great events occur first as rumors and then as legends--and in which even the most intimate domestic scenes are suffused with a sense of wonder.
Willa Cather's third novel, "The Song of the Lark," depicts the growth of an artist, singer Thea Kronborg. In creating Thea's character, Cather was inspired by the Swedish-born immigrant and renowned Wagnerian soprano Olive Fremstad, although Thea's early life also has much in common with Cather's own. Set from 1885 to 1909, the novel traces Thea's long journey from her fictional hometown of Moonstone, Colorado, to her source of inspiration in the Southwest, and to New York and the Metropolitan Opera House. As she makes her own way in the world from an unlikely background, Thea distills all her experiences and relationships into the power and passion of her singing, despite the cost. "The Song of the Lark" presents Cather's vision of a true artist. The Willa Cather Scholarly Edition includes a historical essay providing fresh insight into the novel and Cather's writing process, photographs and maps, and explanatory notes providing a full range of biographical and historical information. The novel, edited according to standards set by the Committee on Scholarly Editions of the Modern Language Association, presents a clean, authoritative text of the first edition and charts the subsequent drastic revisions.
Feisty Thea Kronborg, with her rapturous singing voice, is headed for great things. But her upbringing in a raw, provincial Colorado town has practically stifled her artistic ambitions. Only a few people in Moonstone recognize Thea's world-class talent. One of them is Ray Kennedy, who, entranced by Thea's voice, hopes to marry her, but is destined to unchain her. Sustained by determination and a pioneer's spirit, and inspired by the Native American culture that surrounded her in youth, Thea makes her way in the world. But with loneliness as her constant companion, she comes to realize what sacrifices a true artist must make....<P> With a new introduction by Melissa Homestead
A classic American writer in every sense, Willa Cather enjoyed both critical and commercial success in her long career, receiving the Pulitzer Prize for the novel One of Ours. Her beloved and enduring novels and stories have long been part of the canon of world literature, and the characters she created remain in the hearts and minds of her readers. Vintage Cather includes sections of the novels Death Comes for the Archbishop, O Pioneers!, One of Ours, The Professor's House and y Antonia;and a generous selection of her stories, including "Coming Aphrodite!"
Willa Cather is considered to be one of the best chroniclers of pioneer life in the 20th century. She had a long and distinguished career writing essays, poems, short stories, and novels. This story is a powerful example of a frequent theme: the haunting, sometimes painful, contrast between city and country life.
This volume contains four great works (O Pioneers!, The Song of the Lark, My Ántonia, and One of Ours) by the author who created the first autonomous and successful women's heroes in American literature. Willa Cather is one of America's most treasured writers. Her childhood in the woodlands of Virginia and on the prairies of Nebraska formed the inspiration for many of her novels, and her devotion to education provided the basis for her lifetime of achievement. Many critics have stated that Cather might have won a Nobel Prize had she not been a woman in a time of gender inequality."The time will come when she'll be ranked above Hemingway."-Leon Edel"The thing about Willa Cather's landscape and figures is that not only were they born alive but remain so after six decades." -GuardianThe Song of the Lark (1915): "A story of something better than suggestiveness and charm-a thing finished, sound, and noble." -The NationMy Ántonia (1918): "No romantic novel ever written in America . . . is half so beautiful as My Ántonia." -H. L. Mencken
Willa Cather was twenty-eight years old in the summer of 1902 when she saw England and France for the first time. Behind her stretched the Nebraska fields of her childhood and still ahead of her the world as it belongs only to great writers. The 1902 journey, coming ten years before she made her literary mark withO Pioneers!, was unrepeatable, special in its effects on her artistic development. After disembarking at Liverpool, she toured the Shropshire country, got swallowed up by London, and then crossed the Channel to other skies--to Rouen, Paris, and the Riviera. These fourteen travel articles, written for a newspaper in Lincoln, Nebraska, and eventually collected and published in book form in 1956, are striking for first impressions colored by a future novelist's feeling for history and for beauty in unexpected forms.
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