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My Ántonia Kindle Edition
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Ántonia, who, even as a grown woman somewhat downtrodden by circumstance and hard work, "had not lost the fire of life," lies at the center of almost every human condition that Cather's novel effortlessly untangles. She represents immigrant struggles with a foreign land and tongue, the restraints on women of the time (with which Cather was very much concerned), the more general desires for love, family, and companionship, and the great capacity for forbearance that marked the earliest settlers on the frontier.
As if all this humanity weren't enough, Cather paints her descriptions of the vastness of nature--the high, red grass, the road that "ran about like a wild thing," the endless wind on the plains--with strokes so vivid as to make us feel in our bones that we've just come in from a walk on that very terrain ourselves. As the story progresses, Jim goes off to the University in Lincoln to study Latin (later moving on to Harvard and eventually staying put on the East Coast in another neat encompassing of a stage in America's development) and learns Virgil's phrase "Optima dies ... prima fugit" that Cather uses as the novel's epigraph. "The best days are the first to flee"--this could be said equally of childhood and the earliest hours of this country in which the open land, much like My Ántonia, was nothing short of a rhapsody in prairie sky blue. --Melanie Rehak--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
From the Inside Flap
From the Trade Paperback edition. --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B004UJIQNU
- Publication date : March 30, 2011
- Language : English
- File size : 366 KB
- Simultaneous device usage : Unlimited
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Not Enabled
- Print length : 129 pages
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #8,087 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Reviewed in the United States on November 15, 2021
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"Some memories are realities, and are better than anything that can ever happen to one again."
The Kindle read, "Some reminiscences are realities, and are higher than whatever that could ever manifest to 1 once more."
None of my notes in the remaining pages used the same words. This meant I couldn't search and find them easily. Also, I liked the library book phrasing much better than the Kindle. As in the sentence above, the library book's prose was cleaner, more forceful. The Kindle version read like a first draft the author punched up afterward and forgot to discard.
The novel itself is magnificent, read it in the First World edition or online at the Gutenberg site. I won't ask for a refund because this Kindle was only $3 and I did get my notes from the first 2/3 of the book that way.
The setting of Black Hawk, Nebraska at the end of the 1800s provides the background for the world of the small town growing up with a population of farmers and merchants, immigrants and itinerant cowboys. We witness throughout this largely plotless though riveting novel the joys and the heartbreaks in this world. The narrator, Jim Burden, is profoundly influenced by the community but he also is fated to depart for the East. A few subsequent visits to his hometown over the ensuing decades round out the stories of the characters who had such lively and eventful times growing up.
I don’t want to diminish Cather’s powerful imagination but I think one of the things that’s so wonderful about this novel is the way that she used her own experiences to help her tell this story. Two of the bulls in the novel are named Gladstone and Brigham Young and this apparently was what her father called his own bulls on account of the stubborn disposition in one and the physical adequacy in the other. This kind of true life inspiration didn’t go unnoticed in Cather’s lifetime. According to the footnotes of the Willa Cather Scholarly Edition one local immigrant’s obituary made the claim about a passage in ‘My Antonia’ that “There is no doubt that the inspiration for this sketch came from her acquaintance with Mr. Hansen.”
Cather quotes Virgil in saying “in the lives of mortals the best days are the first to flee” and this book is a profound exploration of this theme of the early formative influences of life and their effect on our characters and personalities. It can also be understood to show the way the character of a community or nation is formed by its past as well. Cather also wrote that “Some memories are realities, and are better than anything that can ever happen to one again” and I would say that this book, too, is a reality, and reading it is better than anything that can ever happen to one.
Top reviews from other countries
To start, I’ll explain why for me it only rates as four stars – simply put, it has no plot, which unfortunately is one of the things most likely to make me grumpy about a book. Instead it is a description of the short-lived era of pioneering, a wonderful depiction of the land and people’s relationship with it before it was fully tamed, a foundational story of the creation of America, and a coming-of-age tale of Jim, primarily, but also of Ántonia and of the frontier itself.
The writing is excellent, especially in the descriptions of the various settings. The vastness of the landscape, the strength and courage of the pioneers, the rapid development of towns and social order are all portrayed brilliantly, leaving a lasting impression on the reader’s mind – for this reader, more lasting than the lives of our major protagonists, I must admit, who largely felt as if they existed to tie together a rather disparate set of episodes illustrating facets of the frontier life. Ántonia herself disappears completely for large parts of the book and her story is often told at a distance, by some third party telling Jim the latest gossip about her. The introduction in my Oxford World’s Classics edition suggests a long-running debate between people who think the book is fundamentally Ántonia’s story, or Jim’s. I fall into the latter category – for me, this is very definitely Jim’s story, and through him largely Cather’s own. But mostly it feels like a part of America’s story, or of its myth-making of itself as a ‘nation of immigrants’ – that is not to denigrate the myth or to suggest it is untrue, simply to say that all nations form myths from their own history which reflect and influence how they feel about themselves and how they act as a society. And I feel this foundational myth-creation aspect may be why the book has earned its place in the hearts of so many Americans, and as a well-deserved American classic.
Having read it, I don’t feel any closer to greatness.
The story is told by the orphan – Jim Burden - who travels to Black Hawk in Nebraska to live with his grandparents, where he meets Antonia Shimerda and her family who have had a much longer journey from Bohemia. Living on neighbouring farms they become childhood friends and Jim is asked by Antonia’s mother to teach her two daughters English.
The girls’ father never really wanted to move from his native Bohemia, preferring to spend time with his friends, playing his violin. For him the ‘American Dream’ ends in suicide. Jim’s grandparents move to the edge of Black Hawk where he studies and eventually becomes a lawyer on the East Coast.
Antonia’s life has been hard – both working the land and various positions of domestic drudgery. Eventually – after being duped by a fraudster – she marries and has a large family who Jim meets many years later and resolves to remain close to.
Almost immediately, the isolation of farmsteads on the prairie and the harsh conditions in which such pioneering families had to survive are paramount, as is the poverty and the ever-present mindfulness of the riches of others close at hand. The descriptive prose is lovely until it becomes so much more wallpaper, waiting patiently to witness some action in the room.
Antonia is a tragic figure in many ways. She works extraordinarily hard her whole life and never really gets ahead. Her mother is arrogant and difficult; her father dies; she is abused by seemingly everyone and we are supposed to believe that she ultimately finds salvation in her family, back out there on the prairie. I’m not sure I believe it.
Antonia and Jim remain friends though their different paths through life cause them to live world’s apart until they cross once more. I got a sense of strong friendship between the two but never really love – certainly not the desperation of unrequited love. I didn’t really feel strongly about either of them and, once the interest in and admiration of their will to survive faded, so did my interest in the book.
I enjoyed the first part of the book and absolutely loved the last chapter. When I’d finished it, I just felt there was so much I had missed in between. In terms of character building and plot development it seemed to meander like a small stream along the floor of a largely forgettable valley: much less grand canyon as great hype
It is told by Jim Burden, who met Antonia when they were both children. Jim was going to Black Hawk to live with his grandparents, while Antonia came with her family from Bohemia. Living close to each other, they quickly became friends.
This story tells of harsh pioneering times, when people spread across America in search of a better future. They tamed the land, withstood the seasons and the hardships that Mother Nature threw at them and many thrived. Antonia took to life on the land with ease, doing the work of men for many years. Her friendship with Jim drifted at times, especially when he left to study and become a lawyer, but, years later, they renewed their acquaintance.
I enjoy stories of early settlers and their strengths against adversity; I find them both humbling and motivating. This story involves a range of immigrants and their stories were all interesting; each worked hard for themselves and the future of their families. It makes me wonder how much the next generation and the ones after that really appreciated the hardships of their forefathers.
First published in 1918, this is a snapshot of a long past era. Even during the telling of this story change happened and progress marched confidently forward. Ideal for anyone, like me, who enjoys dipping back in history and losing themselves for a few hours of reading.
'My Antonia' is almost opposite, though parts of it are beautifully written. Very little of it takes place on the praire, which is a shame because that was the best part and I wish it had continued there. Instead it follows the narrator Jim as he seems to drift aimlessly through life whilst regularly waxing lyrical about 'the country girls'. It reads like the ramblings of an extremely lovesick teenage boy, and I don't feel like we get to know any of the characters deeply, which you would need in a book that doesn't have much of a plot.
If you're thinking of reading Cather, I would recommend 'O Pioneers' instead.