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The Selected Letters of Willa Cather Paperback – August 26, 2014
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Time Magazine's 10 Top Nonfiction Books of the Year • Willa Cather’s letters—withheld from publication for more than six decades—are finally available to the public in this fascinating selection.
The hundreds collected here range from witty reports of life as a teenager in Red Cloud in the 1880s through her college years at the University of Nebraska, her time as a journalist in Pittsburgh and New York, and her growing eminence as a novelist. They describe her many travels and record her last years, when the loss of loved ones and the disasters of World War II brought her near to despair. Above all, they reveal her passionate interest in people, literature, and the arts. The voice is one we recognize from her fiction: confident, elegant, detailed, openhearted, concerned with profound ideas, but also at times sentimental, sarcastic, and funny. A deep pleasure to read, this volume reveals the intimate joys and sorrows of one of America’s most admired writers.
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“By turns effusive, despairing, mischievous, vain, and bighearted, The 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.” —O Magazine
"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."--front cover, New York Times Book Review
“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.” —The Daily News
“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 twentieth century.” —The Cleveland Plain Dealer
“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 misconceptions.” —Publishers Weekly, Pick of the Week, starred review
“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
About the Author
Andrew Jewell is an associate professor at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and editor of the Willa Cather Archive (cather.unl.edu). He is coeditor of the book The American Literature Scholar in the Digital Age and a member of the Willa Cather Foundation Board of Governors.
Janis Stout is the author of nine scholarly books, including Willa Cather: The Writer and Her World and two books about Katherine Anne Porter. She has also edited two volumes on Cather and written a memoir about retirement, This Last House.
- Publisher : Vintage; Reprint edition (August 26, 2014)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 752 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0804172277
- ISBN-13 : 978-0804172271
- Item Weight : 1.52 pounds
- Dimensions : 5.16 x 1.58 x 8.01 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,582,724 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Reviewed in the United States on August 18, 2021
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For the seventy or so years since her death, speculation ran rampant that Cather was trying to hide the shsme of het lesbianism. Scholars should have taken Carhet at het word when she drew up the terms of het will forbidding the publication of the letters. Namely, dhe had a right to privacy that transcended her celebrity as a best selling author. It is telling in this collection, approximately 20% of the known letters in existence, how diligent she was in keeping het brand successful. She is adament in details rekated to the look of her product and its availabilty to het reafing public. While she bemoans the public recognitions that take het away from her craft, she realizes it is part of the Cather brand.
Aside from the profesdional subject of manyvof the lwtters are numerous correspondence to het family and long-time friends, the Miner sisters, Dorothy Canfield Fisher, and the playwright, Zoe Atkins. Cathet had a rich collection of friends. Glaring in omission are letters she wrote to Isabelle McClung and Edith Lewis, het two most intimate friends. One must assumw that bth women adhered to Cathet's dictates and destroyed the letters. Speculation as to het perceuved embarrassment associated with these connections seem absurd. I choose to taje Cathet at het word. She wished her published works tp stand on their own merits. She guarded her relationships with friends and famuly as a right to privacy guarenteed to all Americans and in a sense foreshadowed the danger of intrusion by the celebrity-driven culture we see today. It"s amusing to note that the only star Cathe gushes ovet un the letters is Rin-Tin-Tin who she happened to meet on a train trip! For fans od Cathet, this volyme isa tremenfous boon and reinforces her legacy as one of the greatest American authors of the 120th century.
By bob yates on August 17, 2021
Top reviews from other countries
Fascinating woman, as vivid and interesting a writer of letters as she was of novels. Not many authors can write as well about their own lives as she does. So a must-read not only for anyone interested in the world of American publishing from the 1920s to the late 1940s but also for anyone interested in the life and thoughts of an interesting human being.
The original book has been immaculately transferred to Kindle, which makes its price more of a bargain than first appears!