Cover image for Later novels
Title:
Later novels
Author:
Cather, Willa, 1873-1947.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Novels. Selections
Publication Information:
New York, N.Y. : Library of America : Distributed to the trade in the U.S. and Canada by Viking Press, [1990]

©1990
Physical Description:
988 pages ; 21 cm.
Language:
English
Contents:
A lost lady -- The professor's house -- Death comes for the archbishop -- Shadows on the rock -- Lucy Gayheart -- Sapphira and the slave girl.
Subject Term:
Added Title:
Lost lady.

Professor's house.

Death comes for the archbishop.

Shadows on the rock.

Lucy Gayheart.

Sapphira and the slave girl.
ISBN:
9780940450523
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

This Library of America volume collects six novels by Willa Cather, who is among the most accomplished American writers of the twentieth century. Their formal perfection and expansiveness of feeling are an expression of Cather's dedication both to art and to the open spaces of America.

A Lost Lady (1923) exemplifies her principle of conciseness. It concerns a woman of uncommon loveliness and grace who lends an aura of sophistication to a frontier town, and explores the hidden passions and desires that confine those who idealize her. The recurrent conflict in Cather's work between frontier culture and an encroaching commercialism is nowhere more powerfully articulated.

The Professor's House (1925) encapsulates a story within a story. In the framing narrative, Professor St. Peter, a prizewinning historian of the early Spanish explorers, finds himself disillusioned with family, career, even the house that reflects his success. Within this story is another, of St. Peter's friend Tom Outland, whose brief but adventurous life still shadows those he loved.

Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927) tells the story of the first bishop of New Mexico in a series of tableaux modeled on the medieval lives of the saints. Cather affectionately portrays the refined French Bishop Latour and his more earthy assistant within the harsh and beautiful landscape of the Southwest and among the Mexicans, Indians, and settlers they were sent to serve.

Shadows on the Rock (1931), though its setting and subject are unusual for Cather, expresses her fascination with the "curious endurance of a kind of culture, narrow but definite." It is a re-creation of seventeenth-century Québec as it appears to the apothecary Auclaire and his daughter Cécile: the town's narrow streets, the supply ships on its great river, its merchants, profligates, explorers, missionaries, and towering personalities like Frontenac and Laval, all parts of a colony struggling to survive.

Lucy Gayheart (1935) returns to the themes of Cather's earlier writings, in a more somber key. Talented, spontaneous, and eager to explore the possibilities of life, Lucy leaves her prairie home to pursue a career in music. After a happy interval, her life takes an increasingly disastrous turn.

Sapphira and the Slave Girl (1940) marks a triumphant conclusion to Cather's career as a novelist. Set in Virginia five years before the Civil War, the story shows the effects of slaveholding on Sapphira Colbert, a woman of spirit and common sense who is frighteningly capricious in dealing with people she "owns," and on her husband, who hates slavery even while he conforms to the social order that permits it. When through kindness he refuses to sell a slave, Sapphira's jealous reaction precipitates a sequence of events that registers a conflict of cultural as well as personal values.


Author Notes

Willa Siebert Cather was born in 1873 in the home of her maternal grandmother in western Virginia. Although she had been named Willela, her family always called her "Willa." Upon graduating from the University of Nebraska in 1895, Cather moved to Pittsburgh where she worked as a journalist and teacher while beginning her writing career.

In 1906, Cather moved to New York to become a leading magazine editor at McClure's Magazine before turning to writing full-time. She continued her education, receiving her doctorate of letters from the University of Nebraska in 1917, and honorary degrees from the University of Michigan, the University of California, Columbia, Yale, and Princeton.

Cather wrote poetry, short stories, essays, and novels, winning awards including the Pulitzer Prize for her novel, One of Ours, about a Nebraska farm boy during World War I. She also wrote The Professor's House, My Antonia, Death Comes for the Archbishop, and Lucy Gayheart. Some of Cather's novels were made into movies, the most well-known being A Lost Lady, starring Barbara Stanwyck.

In 1961, Willa Cather was the first woman ever voted into the Nebraska Hall of Fame. She was also inducted into the Hall of Great Westerners in Oklahoma in 1974, and the National Women's Hall of Fame in Seneca, New York in 1988.

Cather died on April 24, 1947, of a cerebral hemorrhage, in her Madison Avenue, New York home, where she had lived for many years.

(Bowker Author Biography)