Willa Cather's Gift of Sympathy

Willa Cather's Gift of Sympathy

Willa Cather's Gift of Sympathy

Willa Cather's Gift of Sympathy

Excerpt

In the following pages we have attempted to analyze and illuminate the art of Willa Cather. Our major concern, of course, has been with the novels. But since Miss Cather tended to present variations on relatively few themes in her short stories, in her novellas, and even in her literary essays, as well as in her novels, we have gone to all of her printed writings which are germane to the scope of this book. And since Miss Cather's moral, philosophical, and critical attitudes are virtually all of a piece with her esthetic practice, we have explored her nonfictional utterances and have attempted to bring them into conjunction with her fiction.

Like many others of Miss Cather's large audience, we began reading her novels with no motivation except to derive pleasure. Not only did we discover an abundance of enjoyment, but we soon found ourselves tempted to go back and reread-many times. Each reading became a fresh experience; familiar details became clearer, and springs hitherto unnoticed kept welling to the surface. By her own admission a practitioner of simplicity in art, Miss Cather affords the pleasures of uninvolved narration and yet embroiders and augments her stories with subtle layers of related meanings. Gradually, we felt that we were discovering . . .

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