Willa Cather's Ecological Imagination

By Susan J. Rosowski | Go to book overview

Unmasking Willa Cather's
“Mortal Enemy”

CHARLES JOHANNINGS MEIER

For many years, scholars have regarded My Mortal Enemy as somewhat of an enigma. Written in only a few months during the early spring of 1925 and published both serially and in book form in 1926, Cather's shortest novel was sandwiched in between The Professor's House (1925) and Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927). While the subject matter of these latter two works can be traced to Cather's experience of and growing interest in the desert Southwest, My Mortal Enemy seemingly has nothing to do with these subjects or her Nebraska roots; it appears to have come out of nowhere, baffling those who have tried to fit this rather anomalous work into a logical progression of Cather's artistic development. The question of what prompted Cather to write such a novel at this point in her career, for example, has still not been answered definitively. One commonly held hypothesis was first voiced by Marcus Klein, who in his 1961 introduction to the novel wrote that for Cather, “The story of Myra Henshawe must have been [the product of] a personal crisis” (xxiv). Klein, though, acknowledged that he could not prove his theory, “because there is available no record other than the novel” (xxiv—xxv). Emmy Stark Zitter has recently argued that in My Mortal Enemy and Sapphira and the Slave Girl (1940) Cather “exercises the autobiographical impulse by melding details of her own life into her fiction” (297), but, like Klein, she is unable to name which “details” of her life Cather drew on in writing My Mortal Enemy.

As hinted in the above statements by Klein and Zitter, much of

-237-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Willa Cather's Ecological Imagination
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 327

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.