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Thread: Willa Cather's Short Stories

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    Registered User K.K.'s Avatar
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    Willa Cather's Short Stories

    I just finished Willa Cather's "Coming, Aphrodite!" This is the first time I've read any of Willa Cather's work, though I plan to read "My Mortal Enemy" next. Is anyone familiar with her work?

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    Our wee Olympic swimmer Janine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by K.K. View Post
    I just finished Willa Cather's "Coming, Aphrodite!" This is the first time I've read any of Willa Cather's work, though I plan to read "My Mortal Enemy" next. Is anyone familiar with her work?
    Yes! Hi K.K., I am very familar with her work, mostly her novels. I read in these in this order:

    O'Pioneers
    My Antonia,
    Death Comes to the Archbishop
    Alexander's Bridge.

    I love her books!!! They are all great reads and the descriptions are amazing. I loved the descriptions in "My Antonia" especially, the parts whe the protagonist and her friend stay at night in cave dwellings, think they in NM. It is such facinating and stunning scenery. I can't say I have ever read a bad book by Cather yet. She is worth pursuing. I would love to read some of her short stories. "Alexander's Bridge" was like a long short story or a novella. I will have to check out the ones you mention above. The both sound very interesting. I like the titles.

    K.K., welcome to the forum!
    "It's so mysterious, the land of tears."

    Chapter 7, The Little Prince ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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    solid motherhubbard's Avatar
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    I've read O'Pioneers, My Antonia, and Song of the Lark. I love her work. I didn't realize that she had short stories. Edit- Other than Plau's Case. I really don't read enough short stories.
    Last edited by motherhubbard; 03-25-2009 at 10:35 PM.

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    Our wee Olympic swimmer Janine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by motherhubbard View Post
    I've read O'Pioneers, My Antonia, and Song of the Lark. I love her work. I didn't realize that she had short stories. Edit- Other than Plau's Case. I really don't read enough short stories.
    Hi motherhubbard, I bought "Song of the Lark" not long ago; that's next on my list. How was it? I think there may be some of her short stories right here on this site (biop page). Edit - I just looked - there are 15 of them. Now I want to read "Coming, Aphrodite!" It is one of them.
    Last edited by Janine; 03-25-2009 at 10:58 PM.
    "It's so mysterious, the land of tears."

    Chapter 7, The Little Prince ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

  5. #5
    I'm also a big fan of Willa Cather (as you might guess from my signature). Her novels are hard to put down despite their lack of the action-packed roller coaster plots of Dickens or Hugo. Her writing eschews the intellectual gimmickry of Faulkner or Joyce, but is never lacking in profundity and richness. I love Cather's style; it is by far the most graceful that I have read in English.

    I think her best novels are My Antonia and Death Comes for the Archbishop. Nostalgia is a common theme in her novels and she treats it very effectively.

    K.K., I enjoyed My Mortal Enemy very much, and I think it would make a fine introduction to Cather. Hopefully you enjoy it enough to go on to read some her best work (like the two I mentioned above).

    Janine, I liked Song of the Lark, and I think it is up there with My Antonia and Death Comes for the Archbishop as one of Cather's best novels, but I felt it was one of the most conventional of Cather's novels in form. Of course, it is suffused with that inimitable grace I mentioned earlier and well worth a read.
    Optima dies ... prima fugit

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    Registered User K.K.'s Avatar
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    I've heard 'My Antonia' and 'Death Comes for the Archbishop' recommended by several people. I will definitely add them to my list.

    I don't generally read that many short stories, and I enjoy hers because they do not lack in character developement-- as many short stories do.

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    Our wee Olympic swimmer Janine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluevictim View Post
    I'm also a big fan of Willa Cather (as you might guess from my signature). Her novels are hard to put down despite their lack of the action-packed roller coaster plots of Dickens or Hugo. Her writing eschews the intellectual gimmickry of Faulkner or Joyce, but is never lacking in profundity and richness. I love Cather's style; it is by far the most graceful that I have read in English.
    bluevictim, what you have written here is great - very perceptive and I think, accurate. I found Cather's work a bit of a surprise. I have to laugh how I came upon my 3 hardbound editions - all, let me add, in 'perfectly new' condition, complete with dust-jackets. My friend trashpicked them; now that was an act of fate for me. Can you imagine, that when a person dies or something(?), relatives just throw out his/her whole beloved collection of books? At anyrate, those three books were some gems I was able to acquire. I thought my cousin had told me, years ago, she had read Cather's books, so this stimulated my interest. I looked up the order they were written, so that is why I started with "O'Pioneers", although don't hold me to the accuracy of that order.

    I think her best novels are My Antonia and Death Comes for the Archbishop. Nostalgia is a common theme in her novels and she treats it very effectively.
    I agree with you; I think these two are the best (I have read so far), but I am still very grateful I read "O'Pioneers" first, since they did seem to follow in her development. I like having a sort of timetable with certain authors. I don't know where "Song of the Lark" falls into this timetable for Cather; do you? Perhaps it is an earlier work, as well.

    K.K., I enjoyed My Mortal Enemy very much, and I think it would make a fine introduction to Cather. Hopefully you enjoy it enough to go on to read some her best work (like the two I mentioned above).
    I don't believe I have heard of "My Mortal Enemy". I will keep it in-mind, if you say it ranks with the other two greats.

    Janine, I liked Song of the Lark, and I think it is up there with My Antonia and Death Comes for the Archbishop as one of Cather's best novels, but I felt it was one of the most conventional of Cather's novels in form. Of course, it is suffused with that inimitable grace I mentioned earlier and well worth a read.
    I am glad to hear that you loved SOTL. I can't wait now to read it. I am sort of working my way around a few plays presently; but just maybe, I will start a novel as well. I have been floundering as to what to read next and that one sounds like a good novel for spring. Even if it is more conventional, I am sure I will enjoy it emensely. It is funny about "Death of Comes to the Archbishop". This title did not particularly grab me right off and then someone told me they read it and it was wonderful. So I read it and I could not believe how much I loved it. I think of all the books, it left such an indelible impression on me, of what that time period must have been like in that part of the country. It is a marvelous book, indeed. Then another friend of mine told me she had read it and loved it, too; so now I would say we have a general concenus on that novel's merits.

    This is great to find so many people who appreciate Cather's writings. Thanks so much K.K. for starting this thread.
    Last edited by Janine; 03-26-2009 at 12:55 PM.
    "It's so mysterious, the land of tears."

    Chapter 7, The Little Prince ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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    Registered User K.K.'s Avatar
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    No problem at all; I am glad to see that there is interest in her work.

    I actually read "Coming, Aphrodite!" for an english class (we've been reading short stories.) The story sparked my attention primary because of how well she crafted the characters; I find that the majority of short stories lack sufficient character developement.

    I know that particular story is not one of her most recognized works, but I hope that it is representative of her writing style.

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    "The Bohemian Girl" can be accessed on line. It's a wonderfully
    evocative story about life on the Great Plains, sparked by the
    introduction of an immigrant population, the title character of which is an example. By contemporary standards, the story is quite lengthy, but the characterisations are worth it. The only thing I didn't like --initally-- was the ending. But upon reflection
    I could see why Ms Cather made that particular choice.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Janine View Post
    I have to laugh how I came upon my 3 hardbound editions - all, let me add, in 'perfectly new' condition, complete with dust-jackets. My friend trashpicked them; now that was an act of fate for me. Can you imagine, that when a person dies or something(?), relatives just throw out his/her whole beloved collection of books? At anyrate, those three books were some gems I was able to acquire.
    That is an interesting way, indeed, to be introduced to a writer. What a find!
    I agree with you; I think these two are the best (I have read so far), but I am still very grateful I read "O'Pioneers" first, since they did seem to follow in her development. I like having a sort of timetable with certain authors. I don't know where "Song of the Lark" falls into this timetable for Cather; do you? Perhaps it is an earlier work, as well.
    Yes, The Song of the Lark is one of her earlier novels (1915). She wrote it after O Pioneers! (1913) but before My Antonia (1918). My Mortal Enemy (1926) and Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927) came later.
    I don't believe I have heard of "My Mortal Enemy". I will keep it in-mind, if you say it ranks with the other two greats.
    Actually, I didn't mean to say that My Mortal Enemy was as good as My Antonia and Death Comes for the Archbishop. I think it's not a bad introduction to Cather because it is short (easily readable in one sitting) and it's a fine example of her graceful writing, and her wonderful ability to draw characters. It treats some of her favorite themes like religion and the loss of youth, but it is more pessimistic than some of her other novels. If you like Cather, you'd probably like My Mortal Enemy, and if you like My Mortal Enemy, there's a good chance you'd enjoy Cather's other works.
    Optima dies ... prima fugit

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