Monday, August 12, 2013

My Antonia

By Willa Cather

The classic tale of a pioneer woman coming from the Old World into a new one and the struggles and championship she makes of life on the prairie of Nebraska in the countryside of the town Black Hawk.  Often hailed as Willa Cather’s most beloved novel and most maturely written work, My Antonia is well worth the praise.

I fell in love with the works of Willa Cather after taking a college course solely dedicated to her life and works. It was fascinating. I thought, ‘how can someone make prairie life interesting?’ It sounded like the dullest subject I could think of; I’ve driven through Kansas and Nebraska; it’s monotonous, hot, and filled with wheat and corn. But reading Cather’s stories about the plains and the people who were courageous enough to first inhabit them is inspiring and frankly often times entrancing. Because she mostly based her characters off of real people, her fictional characters come alive in ways that will surprise the reader. She has the same sort of natural ability to depict humanity as Charles Dickens does when I read his works. There are base differences, Cather’s characters seem more real, while both these author’s characters seem alive. My Antonia is not my favorite Cather work, but it was beautiful in its own way. Narrated by Jim Burden, a boy who comes to Nebraska from Virginia (like Cather herself) at the same time as Antonia and her family arrive from Bohemia. It’s a novel about survival and love. Like many of her characters, Antonia comes to love the land that she had to work and cannot find anywhere she would rather be, save her homeland. It’s a great work of fiction, though I would probably point first-time readers of Cather towards “O Pioneers!” rather than this for an introduction to her work. My other favorite is “The Professor’s House” and if you like short stories, everyone should read her story entitled “Neighbor Rosicky”. A-maz-ing.


I give this a 4 out of 5 (But that’s probably a bit generous)

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