"No romantic novel ever written in America . . . is one half so beautiful as My Antonia."-H. L. Mencken. Widely recognized as Willa Cather's greatest novel, My Antonia is a soulful and rich portrait of a pioneer woman's simple yet heroic life. The spirited daughter of Bohemian immigrants, Antonia must adapt to a hard existence on the desolate prairies of the Midwest. Enduring childhood poverty, teenage seduction, and family tragedy, she eventually becomes a wife and mother on a Nebraska farm. A fictional record of how women helped forge the communities that formed a nation, My Antonia is also a hauntingly eloquent celebration of the strength, courage, and spirit of America's early pioneers.
On his journey to Nebraska, Jim, a young orphan, meets a family of Bohemian immigrants, the Shimerdas. The novel traces the friendship between Jim and the Shimerdas' eldest daughter, Antonia, as they grow up, weathering difficult winters and family tragedy. MY ANTONIA is a seminal piece of American literature and a masterpiece of the American West.
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.
Emigrating from Bohemia to Black Hawk, Nebraska, with her family, Ántonia discovers no white-framed farmhouse or snug barn. Instead, the cultured Shimerda family finds itself huddled in a primitive sod house buffeted by the ceaselessly blowing winds on the Midwest prairie. For her childhood friend Jim Burden, Ántonia comes to embody the elemental spirit of this frontier. Working alongside men, she survives without compromising the rich, deep power of her nature. And Willa Cather’s lush descriptions of the rolling Nebraska grasslands interweave with the blossoming of a woman in the early days of the twentieth century in a novel that is an epic chronicle of America’s past. My Ántonia is one of those rare, highly prized works of great literature that not only enriches its readers but immerses them in a tale superbly told. The novel Cather herself considered her best, My Ántonia is one of those rare, highly prized works of great literature that not only enriches its readers but immerses them in a tale superbly told.
With an Introduction by Marilyn Sides
and an Afterword by Terese Svoboda
From the Paperback edition.
“Artistic growth is, more than it is anything else, a refining of the sense of truthfulness. The stupid believe that to be truthful is easy; only the artist, the great artist, knows how difficult it is.” ― Willa Cather, The Song of the Lark
Willa Cather's The Song of the Lark is a semi-autobiographical story of a girl from a rural town in eastern Colorado who attracts the attention of a series of mentors and sponsors for her musical talent.
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.