Arms and the Woman: War, Gender, and Literary Representation

By Helen M. Cooper; Adrienne Auslander Munich et al. | Go to book overview

man, rub it in, pound it down; she would deserve it and need it for her soul's salvation. She knew that her knowledge and desire were at the mercy of the feeble hand, the hand made unsteady by the fullness of truth. 37

As if responding to Cather's fear, in his review Mencken did give her the pounding she half thought she deserved when he said that she had fallen into the company of lady writers. The first half of the book (where Cather stuck to her Nebraska material) Mencken liked, but the last half (where she crossed into male territory) degenerated, he charged, to the "level of a serial in the Ladies' Home Journal." 38

Cather was distressed by the novel's reviews, the openly announced failure of her feeble hand. One of Ours was the novel with which she had felt most emotionally engaged, and she found it hard to remain detached from the public criticism. Given her maternal feelings for Claude, she may have been disturbed by this confrontation with the limits of a mother's power. Even though she had safely brought her novel to life, battling her own anxieties and leaving her first publisher in the process, she could not protect the novel from the reviewers. But her close bond with her literary child persisted, and eventually Claude's injury was balanced by her own. In the summer of 1923 Cather went to France, hoping to work on a new novel, but she suffered a painful attack of neuritis in her right arm and found herself unable to write.


Notes
1.
Cather, The Kingdom of Art, 409. Hereafter cited in the text as KA.
2.
Lears, No Place of Grace, 117-24.
3.
Cather, The World and the Parish, 1:556.
4.
For an analysis of how Cather later dismantled and subverted that ideology in her first novel, see Ammons, The Engineer as Cultural Hero."
5.
Cather, April Twilights, 26.
6.
Willa Cather to Dorothy Canfield [Fisher], April 7, 1922.
7.
Mencken, "Four Reviews,"12. For other reviews, see Schroeter, Willa Cather and Her Critics, 25-34, and Murphy, Critical Essays on Willa Cather, 165-68.
8.
Wilson, The Shores of Light, 118.
9.
For an analysis of this issue, and an argument that Cather consistently views Claude's romanticism with detachment and irony, see Schwind, The 'Beautiful' War."

-201-

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Arms and the Woman: War, Gender, and Literary Representation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Notes xix
  • War and Memory 1
  • Arms and the Woman: The Con[tra]ception of the War Text 9
  • Notes 23
  • Works Cited 23
  • "Still Wars and Lechery": Shakespeare and the Last Trojan Woman 25
  • Notes 39
  • Works Cited 40
  • Rewriting History: Madame de Villedieu and the Wars of Religion 43
  • Notes 55
  • Works Cited 57
  • Southern Women's Diaries of Sherman's March to the Sea, 1864-1865 59
  • Notes 75
  • Works Cited 77
  • Civil Wars and Sexual Territories 80
  • Notes 95
  • Works Cited 96
  • The Women and Men of 1914 97
  • Notes 118
  • Corpus/Corps/Corpse: Writing the Body in/at War 124
  • Notes 159
  • Works Cited 164
  • May Sinclair's The Tree of Heaven: The Vortex of Feminism, the Community of War 168
  • Notes 179
  • Works Cited 182
  • Combat Envy and Survivor Guilt: Willa Cather's "Manly Battle Yarn" 184
  • Notes 201
  • Works Cited 203
  • "Seeds for the Sowing": The Diary of Käthe Kollwitz 205
  • Notes 221
  • Works Cited 223
  • A Needle with Mama's Voice: Mitsuye Yamada's Camp Notes and the American Canon of War Poetry 225
  • Notes 241
  • Feminism, the Great War, and Modern Vegetarianism 244
  • Images of Love and War in Contemporary Israeli Fiction: A Feminist Re-vision 268
  • Notes 277
  • Works Cited 280
  • Nuclear Domesticity: Sequence and Survival 283
  • Notes 299
  • "Epitaphs and Epigraphs: 'The End(s) of Man'" 303
  • Notes 319
  • Works Cited 321
  • A Bibliography of Secondary Sources 323
  • The Contributors 331
  • Index 335
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