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My Antonia (Cather) - Book Reviews

Book Reviews 
Read this beautiful book. I should just stop here. So I will. Well...no. On second thought, I'd better not. But truth is there's not much more to say about this American classic than what H.L. Mencken said in 1918: No romantic novel ever written in America, by man or woman, is one half so beautiful as My Antonia.
A LitLovers Pick - Dec. 07


No romantic novel ever written in America, by man or woman, is one half so beautiful as My Antonia.
H. L. Mencken, 1918


It was risky, in the early part of this century, to presume to write fiction about ordinary, rough-hewn people engaged in the rigors of dry land farming in frontier Nebraska. The prevailing literary style was for overrefined, predictable, plot-driven novels with characters who held fast to European pretensions and standards of gentility. Along with writers such as Theodore Dreiser and Sinclair Lewis, Willa Cather was seen by some contemporary critics as an answered prayer. Writing about O PIONEERS!, which had established Cather's national reputation when it appeared in 1913, one critic stated, "Here at last is an American novel, redolent of the Western prairies."

Louise Bogan, who termed Cather an American classic in The New Yorker, treasured the authority of Cather's voice, her having "learned all there was to know about the prairie, including how to kill rattlesnakes and how prairie dogs built their towns." Above all, Bogan praised Cather for not being one of those "writers of fiction who compromised with their talents and their material in order to amuse or soothe an American business culture." Refreshed by Cather's evocation of pioneer life, Bogan said admiringly that Cather "used her power...in practicing fiction as one of the fine arts."
Kathleen Norris - PBS Website




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