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Death Comes for the Archbishop Paperback – September 24, 2009
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From Library Journal
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
—NEW YORK TIMES
“The most sensuous of writers, Willa Cather builds her imagined world as solidly as our five senses build the universe around us.”
“[Cather’s] descriptions of the Indian mesa towns on the rock are as beautiful, as unjudging, as lucid, as her descriptions of the Bishop’s cathedral. It is an art of ‘making,’ of clear depiction—of separate objects, whose whole effect works slowly and mysteriously in the reader, and cannot be summed up . . . Cather’s composed acceptance of mystery is a major, and rare, artistic achievement.”
—from the Introduction by A. S. Byatt --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
In what reads like a series of short stories, the priests travel throughout the area and meet a wide variety of people along the way. Always, their adventures take on mythical and religious significance, such as when Father Latour finds himself quite lost and then sees a juniper tree in the shape of a cross that leads him to food and shelter. Each of these stories has a crisis and each crisis is answered by a religious experience. This deepens the faith of the two priests who share their common religious feelings even though they have very different personalities.
Ms. Cather had the uncanny ability to capture exactly what each character felt and let the reader experience it moment to moment. Her detailed descriptions are many faceted. For example she uses the character of Kit Carson to show both gentleness and compassion as well as vile cruelty to the Indians. Always, she just lays out the story and lets the reader make his or her own judgments.
One of the problems I had with the book was my own desire to have the priests confront some difficult choice. That didn't happen. Their faith was always there.Read more ›
"Death Comes for the Archbishop" is a multidimensional work skillfully woven together. On one hand Cather tells the story of New Mexico in the early days of its occupation by the United States and of the clash of two cultures trying, sometimes unsuccessfully, to get along.
On the other hand it is a portrait of a life. It is the story of Father Latour, a French priest sent to Santa Fe by the church to serve as an impartial intermediary between the protestant Anglo government and the Mexican Catholic population. He leaves behind all that is dear to him and dedicates himself to a life of service in a distant outpost far from what he must have considered civilization.
While it's true that the book may be `episodic' or `anecdotal', few of us recall our own lives as a smooth, day-to-day rendering. What we remember are the high points and low points of our lives, and so it is here. This is, after all, the story of the life, and death, of a man.
If you read books just to find out how they end, I'll save you the trouble. He dies. But if you read to experience the world through the heart and eyes of a great author, this book is for you. And once you read it you will find that, for you, Father Latour, hasn't really died. He'll stay with you forever.
I admit, I am part of the third group. I fell in love with the writing of Cather as a teenager. To date, I have found no other author who can illustrate the great expanse of America and the vision of our ancestors in the way she could. Being set in New Mexico, the feeling of expanse of the American West permeates every page. I agree with another reviewer that this book is the writing equivalent of O'Keefe.
While I can understand the young ones criticizing the book after being forced to read it, I don't understand adults who were dissatisfied. Was this their first Cather? Hopefully not (I'd recommend starting with "Song of the Lark" or "O Pioneers". Her writing is not an unknown quantity.
I've read the book many times over the past thirty years, and it's not a book for those who like to have their plots laid out for them. The plot is obscure, as Cather leaves the main story line with chapters diverging like side trails off a main path. Though not hard to read, it's not a book for those in a hurry. It's best being read in a comfy chair on a rainy afternoon next to a window. The sense of timeliness, of the stretching on into eternity, is seldom better conveyed than in this book.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Ms. Cather had an intimate knowledge of the Southwest region and she used a diary left by the actual priest (Lamy) who is the title character, the Archbishop Latour. Read morePublished 22 hours ago by WD50
This is a wonderful historical novel rich with lively and varied descriptions of the forbidding landscape of New Mexico. Read morePublished 5 days ago by fredp
I love Willa Cather because she gives us so much history of the settling of the western states.Published 16 days ago by Jackie Lott
Beautiful prose, wonderful characters, and a sublime feeling of warmth throughout the whole book.Published 26 days ago by Kindle Customer
Willa Cather is a master at describing a place, a house, the desert, anything, and you feel like you're there. Read morePublished 1 month ago by McBarb
With a colorful literary brush, Cather paints the southwest of the late nineteenth century through the eyes of a French priest who loves the land and the people and bemoans what... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Sally
I have heard that no author paints the scenery like Willa Cather. It was fun to experience this for myself.Published 1 month ago by LiteraryDiva
This is a true American Classic. If you like historical books, this book is a winner. Willa Cather's word pictures paint wonderful pictures of New Mexico and its early inhabitants. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Oklahoma Explorer
I've loved all of her books, and this one is as wonderful as the rest. I chose it for our book club because, 1) of the New Mexico setting, 2) that the main character is based on a... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Kenneth