EVENTS IN 1929-30
AMONG living American novelists none has a higher standing than Willa Cather. Her art like her nature has mellowed with maturity; there is a spiritual advance from irony to sympathy; with this growth in grace there is an added literary distinction. The rather venomous acidity of A Lost Lady, My Mortal Enemy, and the Professor's House changed into the profound insight (born of love) into the characters of obscure people shown in Death Comes for the Archbishop, Shadows on the Rock, Obscure Destinies, Lucy Gayheart. When I read My Mortal Enemy, I could not tell which was the enemy, the husband or the wife. One day my friend the novelist Lee Dodd told me he had asked her and she had told him; whereupon he told me and I have forgotten.
In June 1929 at the Yale Commencement it was with unusual pleasure that, as Public Orator, I had the honour of presenting her for the degree of Doctor of Letters:
Born in Virginia, a graduate of the University of Nebraska, for some years a Pittsburgh journalist, Willa Cather is today one of the leading English-writing novelists of the world. Her worst novel One of Ours received the Pulitzer Prize because in that year her worst novel was better than everybody else's masterpiece. It is impossible to classify her work; she has attained eminence in such different fields of literary art. The Professor's House is a dynamic and terrifying story; Death Comes for the Archbishop is a static and tranquil book, written without emphasis, and full of beauty. It is impossible to say what the nature of her next book will be, but we know that it will make an impression on competent critics. Miss Cather has