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My Ántonia (Dover Thrift Editions) Paperback – Unabridged, October 21, 1994

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

My Ántonia evokes the Nebraska prairie life of Willa Cather's childhood, and commemorates the spirit and courage of immigrant pioneers in America. One of Cather's earliest novels, written in 1918, it is the story of Ántonia Shimerda, who arrives on the Nebraska frontier as part of a family of Bohemian emigrants. Her story is told through the eyes of Jim Burden, a neighbor who will befriend Ántonia, teach her English, and follow the remarkable story of her life.
Working in the fields of waving grass and tall corn that dot the Great Plains, Ántonia forges the durable spirit that will carry her through the challenges she faces when she moves to the city. But only when she returns to the prairie does she recover her strength and regain a sense of purpose in life. In the quiet, probing depth of Willa Cather's art, Ántonia's story becomes a mobbing elegy to those whose persistence and strength helped build the American frontier.

About the Author

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Willa Cather (1873–1947) spent her formative years in Nebraska, which was at that time frontier territory. Her exposure to the region's dramatic environment and intrinsic hardships — along with its diverse population of European-Americans, Native Americans, and immigrants — shaped and informed much of her fiction.


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 11 and up
  • Grade Level: 6 and up
  • Series: Dover Thrift Editions
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications (October 21, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486282406
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486282404
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.3 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,120 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Oddsfish VINE VOICE on December 18, 2002
Format: Paperback
Willa Cather has much in common with Sarah Orne Jewett. Both saw the United States growing increasingly shallow and materialistic. In response, they wrote books capturing life in what may be viewed as its most simple and complete form. My Antonia is one of these novels, and the result is that it paints a vivid, beautiful picture of the potential of life.
The novel is narrated by Jim Burden. It begins with Jim as a young boy traveling to the open west to be raised by his grandparents on their Nebraskan farm. Antonia is a girl slightly older than Jim from a Bohemian family which is trying to survive the hard farming life. The rest of the novel follows the two as they live their complete lives-growing, maturing, suffering, and going through relationships-basically just trying as best they can to survive.
There are so many great things to say about this novel. The vision of humans surviving the harsh realities of farming in the Nebraska wilderness is intense and stark, but there is such beauty to be found as they undergo such hardships and keep forging ahead. This is what I see as the real greatness of the novel-it presents the great courage of man to just survive and the intense beauty which is found in survival. The whole image seems so indicative of the human condition, and the effect is truly life affirming.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
Will Cather's, My Antonia, was a very different immigrant story. We all know that people migrate from their home town to supposedly a better place. In her book Cather writes of a family coming from Bohemia to Nebraska. This family is given the impression that Nebraska is a better place to live in, where there is more freedom and much to eat. This is not true in this story or any other real life story of immigrants. This family, as others, suffers the changes of being in a different and strange place. Cather explains in detail their sufferings, their losses and their victories.
Cathers descriptions of the country life are breathtaking. She tells how the immigrant settlers adventurously farm the prairie lands. She tells how this family is ignorant and how they bloom with thier struggles. And she tells of their isolation from culture.
Will Cather's great storytelling style is characterized by an ingenous pragmatism and avoidance of sentimentality. My Antonia is considered to be the author's masterpiece. I agree because it is an excellent story about a pioneer woman who has earned a distinguished place in American fiction. On my scale, My Antonia, by Will Cather, is a perfect 10 because it is superb writing about a strong willed, courageous woman.
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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. greene's class on March 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
My Antonia is a very well-written love story. Jim Burden is sent to live with his grandparents in Nebraska when he's ten. On the farm next to his family's is a Bohemian family. He befriends the Bohemian girl, Antonia. This book tells the tales of their adventures together through Jim's eyes. His enjoyable childhood with his best friend. Then, the weekly dances with Antonia in the town's dance hall. His years of college, and how their friendship grows a part. The last chapter is their reunion. Antonia with her huge family and life on a farm. And Jim, a successful lawyer. The best of friends once more. Jim and Antonia are both very loveable chracters and easy to relate to. A great portrayal of the life of a pioneer in Nebraska. An adventure that's fun to read. This book will make you laugh and cry. But most of all, you'll wish for a friendship as great as Jim and Antonia's.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Plume45 on January 11, 2014
Format: Paperback
Ten-year-old Jim Burden arrives in the dark Nebraska vastness, on the same train as a hopeful but impoverished Bohemian family. The newly orphaned boy is welcomed by loving grandparents and kind farm hands, who gently teach him prairie survival skills. Alas, there is no one but a sly cousin from the old country to greet/dupe the hardworking folk who sacrificed their homeland to make a better life in the New World for their children. Still, throughout the entire book it is Nature--particularly in the form of the undulating, ever metamorphosing prairie--which dispenses both cruelty and blessing on Americans and immigrants alike. How each group copes reveals their moral fiber and hints at future success.

Young Jim is somewhat enchanted by his 14-year-old neighbor--a bronzed, hardworking daughter of the soil, who toils selflessly for her family--Antonia Shimerda. Their strange customs and diverse personalities awe and confuse Jimmy, who immediately feels appreciation and affection for this brave girl from a flawed family. The novel recounts their lives from childhood until young adulthood; how they took divergent paths in their quests for true happiness and contentment in life. Cather's style is lyric: music is found in both Papa's violin and the waving of golden grain. She vividly portrays the chiaroscuro of shimmering sunsets and dappled leaves by the creek; gracefulness in the lilt of a barefoot walk and the natural aspiration of the heart toward peace and beauty.

Does Jim regret the lost days of his boyhood--when life's pleasures were innocent; when hope was young and shy; when dreams were easily shared with a trusting companion and a sincere smile? Was it worth all his serious studies and prestigious N.Y. job, when he recalls the tremulous private confessions of their youth?
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