Willa Cather at the Modernist Crux

Willa Cather at the Modernist Crux

Willa Cather at the Modernist Crux

Willa Cather at the Modernist Crux

Synopsis

Willa Cather at the Modernist Crux examines Willa Cather's position in time, in aesthetics, and in the world. Born a Victorian in 1873, Cather made herself a modernist through the poems, stories, and novels she wrote and published into the twentieth century. Beginning with a prologue locating Cather's position, this volume of Cather Studies offers three sets of related essays.

The first section takes up Cather's beginnings with her late nineteenth-century cultural influences. The second section explores a range of discernable direct connections with contemporary artists (Howard Pyle, Frederic Remington, and Ernest Blumenschein) and others who figured in the making of her texts. The third section focuses on The Song of the Lark, a novel that confirms Cather's shift westward and elaborates her emergent modernism. An epilogue by the editors of The Selected Letters of Willa Cather addresses how the recent availability of these letters has transformed Cather studies. Altogether, these essays detail Cather's shaping of the world of the early twentieth century and later into a singular modernism born of both inherited and newer cultural traditions.

Excerpt

The poem of the mind in the act of finding
What will suffice. It has not always had
To find: the scene was set; it repeated what
Was in the script
.

                         Then the theatre was changed
To something else. Its past was a souvenir.
It has to be living, to learn the speech of the place.
It has to face the men of the time and to meet
The women of the time. It has to think about war
And it has to find what will suffice. It has
To construct a new stage
.

Wallace Stevens, from“Of Modern Poetry” (1942)

When in My Ántonia Willa Cather concludes the story of Mr. Shimerda’s burial, his grave having been placed by Mrs.

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