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  • Writer's pictureTerry Pace

MY ANTONIA by Willa Cather (1918).

Updated: Feb 10, 2020

Willa Cather (RIP 1873-1947). Cather, known for her novels about life on the Great Plains and for her childhood home in Red Cloud, Nebraska where the story of My Antonia is set (in the fictional Black Hawk). This is simply one of the most beautiful works of literature I have ever read. Lyrical is an apt word for many passages and for the flow of the narrative. Telling the story of the young Antonia and her newly immigrant Bohemian family as they settled on what was then the Nebraska frontier. The story is many things to many people, a love story, a story of family heartbreak and resilience, a story about the beauty and power of the Great Plains, an immigrant story about America. This oft quoted passage is also one of my favorites:

“…The earth was warm under me, and warm as I crumbled it through my fingers…I kept as still as I could. Nothing happened. I did not expect anything to happen. I was something that lay under the sun and felt it; like the pumpkins, and I did not want to be anything more. I was entirely happy. Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become a part of something entire, whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge. At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep.”

Terry M Pace (2020)

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