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The Selected Letters of Willa Cather Hardcover – Deckle Edge


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 752 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (April 16, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307959309
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307959300
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.6 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #233,317 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Right off the bat—the second sentence of the introduction, as a matter of fact—we learn that, in a sense, this book is illegal. Willa Cather, the great, still fondly read American novelist of the Great Plains, stipulated in her will that her letters never be published. With no disrespect to the beloved author of such classics as My Antonia and Death Comes for the Archbishop, she was wrong to issue such a prohibition, and the editors of this selection of her letters are right in tenderly setting aside the restriction, because “it is time to let the letters speak for themselves.” And what they say is that no truer artist ever existed, in terms of dedication to refining her craft and keeping distractions at bay. But that is not to say Cather did not have a rich, full life brimming with travel and important relationships. To be familiar with her novels is to admire how direct and undecorated was her prose style, and now to be familiar with her in less formal moments, the admiration readers have for her direct approach to writing will only be strengthened. For comprehensive American literature collections. --Brad Hooper

Review

“This prodigious editorial feat gives readers a glimpse for the first time into the mind of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of O Pioneers! . . .  Throughout, Cather emerges as a humorous, profound, and difficult personality whose cosmopolitan life and commitment to crafting a successful public persona should challenge mis-conceptions.”—Publishers Weekly, Pick of the Week, starred review
 
“By turns effusive, despairing, mischievous, vain, and bighearted, Selected Letters unfolds like an epistolary autobiography, teeming with rich period detail and the savvy observations of a complicated artist at the height of her powers.”—Hamilton Cain, O Magazine
 
“A revealing, even revelatory collection of correspondence from Willa Cather . . . A splendidly edited, generous gift to lovers of Cather and American literature.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
 
“The editors maintain a fine balance, providing useful illustrative material, but knowing, too, when to fall silent and let Cather speak for herself. And speak she does, in a voice that’s alternately eloquent, determined, respectful, erudite, affectionate and wise—and sometimes cantankerous and cranky. Combined the letters compose a portrait of an artist, a woman who crafted some of the finest fiction of the 20th century. A writer to read—and never neglect.”—Dan Dyer, The Cleveland Plain Dealer
 
“If Selected Letters tells us something profound about Cather, it is this: She was too active, too interesting and too alive to keep herself a secret forever. It has always been inevitable that, one day, one way or another, this would be proven in Cather’s own words.”—Craig Chandler, The Daily News

"Jewell and Stout have performed a valuable service with this book, from which Cather emerges as a strong and vivid presence, a woman at once surprisingly modern and touchingly--if not always sweetly--old-fashioned. . . . As a pure prose stylist, she ranks with Hemingway; as a self-made American artist and feminist pioneer, she traveled a far greater distance--from tiny Red Cloud to Manhattan--than Fitzgerald did when he made the leap from middle-class St. Paul to Princeton. These letters bring her fuzzy image into much sharper focus, and for that we owe Jewell and Stout a debt of gratitude."--Tom Perrotta, Front cover, New York Times Book Review
 
 

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Customer Reviews

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It is a great addition to her works, long overdue.
Glenn Jordan
Reading these letters give you insight into the life of one of the most private of American writers.
G. L. Rosenberg
Reading this book was almost like being a part of her life.
Ruth A Leitschuck

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Parnassus on Wheels on April 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover
After all these years of hearing and reading Willa Cather paraphrased, sometimes completely out of context, finally we have 566 examples of the real thing. Avid readers of this very serious author can finally know how funny she was, and how complicated.

Congratulations to the editors, both top Cather scholars, for accomplishing their stated aim: to give us the closest we can get to a Cather autobiography. By arranging the letters according to cogent periods of Cather's life, they allow readers to experience her story in a much more specific fashion than if they had presented the "selected" letters in just a standard chronological format. Since admittedly these represent only a cross section of more than 3,000 letters that survived Cather's appeals to friends and family to destroy all correspondence from her, and the wording of her Last Will & Testament, which forbade their publication, Janis Stout and Andy Jewell have given us their own take on the Willa Cather who has eluded biographers quite adroitly since her death in 1947.

Those who have theorized that Cather tried to keep her letters from being published because she was ashamed of her lesbian life can now see that it was, more likely, her family she was ashamed of, but she loved them and wanted to protect them, and herself, from the embarrassment of having the world know just how badly they treated her, with the exception of her two closest brothers in age, Roscoe and Douglass.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By QueenofCheap Books on June 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'd read her shopping lists. I'd read her directions to the milliner. I'd read the margin notes in her itinerary.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Angel Lover on May 22, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
She may not have spelled every word correctly or always chosen the best punctuation, but Willa Cather wrote letters that were magnificent. Some shed light on her familial relationships; she had a very close relationship with her parents and siblings and would return to Red Cloud, Nebraska on an annual basis to see them. Her letters to editors and publishers are marvelous examples of negotiation; she often got her way because she was so kind yet anticipated every argument that an editor might have. She was a fine business woman, carefully tracking every dollar owed her. Moreover, she took the same care with her letters that she did with her published works. The letters are a delight and should be read by anyone who is a Willa Cather lover. They might even make a fan of those who've never read her before.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rufus C. Kemper III on June 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
These letters make a complete picture of the life and art of Willa Cather possible, mostly by removing the overgrown underbrush of commentary and teasing paraphrase that has blocked our view of the relations of life and art. we can, we should, now return to the art itself, having absorbed the life.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By I. E. Carrel on May 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Cather is an insightful writer, close to other writers of her generation--Fitzgerald, Steinbeck--and publishers such as Alfred Knopf. She lived, felt, and travelled widely, but seems to have been happiest when writing on her typewriter. No angst about being productive. Productivity was a welcome life requirement.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Virginia on June 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Beautifully organized.

Fine photos, good index. Material that I felt I would never see. A great addition to Cather scholarship.
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