The land belongs to the future... that's the way it seems to me....I might as well try to will the sunset over there to my brother's children. We come and go, but the land is always here. And the people who love it and understand it are the people who own it -- for a little while."
O Pioneers! (1913) was Willa Cather's first great novel, and to many it remains her unchallenged masterpiece. No other work of fiction so faithfully conveys both the sharp physical realities and the mythic sweep of the transformation of the American frontier -- and the transformation of the people who settled it. Cather's heroine is Alexandra Bergson, who arrives on the wind-blasted prairie of Hanover, Nebraska, as a girl and grows up to make it a prosperous farm. But this archetypal success story is darkened by loss, and Alexandra's devotion to the land may come at the cost of love itself.
At once a sophisticated pastoral and a prototype for later feminist novels, O Pioneers! is a work in which triumph is inextricably enmeshed with tragedy, a story of people who do not claim a land so much as they submit to it and, in the process, become greater than they were.From the Trade Paperback edition.
From the Inside Flap
CHOICE Outstanding Academic Book
"This beautifully produced book is a joy to read and demonstrates the real pleasures to be derived from meticulous attention to detail and the highest standards of scholarship."American Literary Scholarship.
"The first of the Cather Scholarly Editions sets a high standard of quality. . . . Text and context reveal the splendor of O Pioneers! and enrich both the experience and study of Cathers extraordinary prose."Western American Literature.
Willa Cather said that O Pioneers! was her first authentic novel, "the first time I walked off on my own feeteverything before was half real and half an imitation of writers whom I admired." Cathers novel of life on the Nebraska frontier established her reputation as a writer of great note and marked a significant turning point in her artistic development. No longer would she let literary convention guide the form of her writing; the materials themselves would dictate the structure.
The paperback edition contains all the text and scholarly apparatus found in the original Willa Cather Scholarly Edition. Edited according to standards set by the Committee for Scholarly Editions of the Modern Language Association, this volume presents the full range of biographical, historical, and textual information on the novel.
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