Willa Seibert Cather (1873 -1947) ◦ American Frontier ◦ West ◦ Female Art
1) What did “Antonia” symbolize? And how is it reflected at the very end? 2) What artful way did Cather structure Jim’s narration? 3) How does the transformation of the land mirrors the transformation of Jim? Optima dies … prima fugit (Vergil)
Artful Life Life Writing 1873 Born in Virginia 1883 Move Nebraska 1891-95 University of Nebraska 1896 Meet McClung and move in with her family 1906 Move to New York 1908 Meet Sarah Orne Jewett 1912 Visited Nebraska. Move in with Edith Lewis 1914 Meets Olive Fremstad 1918 Visited Nebraska, learn about soldier cousin 1925 Deserts of New Mexico 1928 Father Dies 1931 Mother dies 1938 Brother and McClung dies 1945 Other brother dies 1947 Dies in New Hampshire 1893 -95 Nebraska State Journal 1892 Publish “Peter” 1896 Home Monthly 1903 April Twilight (poems) 1905 Troll Garden (short stories) 1906 McClure’s magazine 1912 Publish Alexander’s Bridge 1913 O Pioneers! 1914 The Song of the Lark 1918 My Antonia 1921 One of Ours 1923 Pulitzer Prize for One of Ours. A Lost Lady 1925 The Professor’s House 1927 Death Comes for the Archbishop 1931 Shadows on the Rock 1935 Lucy Gayheart 1940 Sapphira and the Slave Girl
Thesis A Through artful application of literary devices and unique insights on the condition of the American female individuals whose internal strength allowed them to lead the pioneering efforts in the West, and desire to use her art to criticize the social trends of the new millennium -- including capitalism and commercialism, the corruption of the beauty of nature, the West – Cather is able to exercise distinctive literary voice.
Essay Map In what has come to be known as her Prairie Trilogy, which includes O Pioneers! (1913), The Song of the Lark (1915), and My Antonia (1918), Cather’s distinctive literary voice was forged through experiences in a rapidly changing America to communicate her personal quest of breaking new grounds in her storytelling.
Thesis B A vehement representative of an old way of life in America against the backdrop of social, technological and economical advances, Cather’s classic and masterfully crafted works occupy a secure place in the American literary canon.
“To say that the end of art is the creation of life… is to state an ideal; but the closer the duplications of nature, the higher the art. At its peak, surmounting human limitation, art would become life itself” (Gerber 138). Cather
“I want my new heroine to be like this, like a rare object in the middle of a table, which one may examine from all sides. I want her to stand out – like this – because she is the story”
Artist of Life CatherAntonia “One of the people who interested me most as a child was the Bohemian hired girl of one of our neighbors… She was one of the truest artists I ever knew in the keenness and sensitiveness of her enjoyment, in her love of people and in her willingness to take pain” (Gerber 91 – 92). “One of the people who interested me most as a child was the Bohemian hired girl of one of our neighbors… She was one of the truest artists I ever knew in the keenness and sensitiveness of her enjoyment, in her love of people and in her willingness to take pain” (Gerber 91 – 92). “A Bohemian girl whom we had know long ago.... More than any other person we remembered, this girl seemed to mean to us the country, the conditions, the whole adventure of our childhood” (Cather 494). “A Bohemian girl whom we had know long ago.... More than any other person we remembered, this girl seemed to mean to us the country, the conditions, the whole adventure of our childhood” (Cather 494).
“She lent herself to immemorial human attitudes which we recognize by instinct as universal and true… She [had] that something which fires the imagination, [and] could still stop one’s breath for a moment by a look or gesture that somehow revealed the meaning in common things… She was a rich mine of life, like the founders of early races“ (Cather 680). “I was entirely happy… that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great” (Cather 506).
Cather’s characters “chose an ideal, a vision of perfection. and regardless of what happen to them, how many illusions they had to destroy, they lived the artistic life” (White 22). “To live merely for the rich experience of living itself is the ‘career’ she labors at with… much diligence” (Gerber 87).
“Antonia Shimerda required not analysis but worship. She was to be marveled at, something like a Sequoia that stands forever in contradiction of all one’s experience” (Gerber 88)
She has experienced life, created that experience into literature, and published that literature because she has wanted propagate her world of reason, truth, and beauty (White 19) In Conclusion