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The Song of the Lark

Willa Cather

Publication Year: 2012

Willa Cather’s third novel, The Song of the Lark, depicts the growth of an artist, singer Thea Kronborg. In creating Thea’s character, Cather was inspired by the Swedish-born immigrant and renowned Wagnerian soprano Olive Fremstad, although Thea’s early life also has much in common with Cather’s own.

Set from 1885 to 1909, the novel traces Thea’s long journey from her fictional hometown of Moonstone, Colorado, to her source of inspiration in the Southwest, and to New York and the Metropolitan Opera House. As she makes her own way in the world from an unlikely background, Thea distills all her experiences and relationships into the power and passion of her singing, despite the cost. The Song of the Lark presents Cather’s vision of a true artist.

The Willa Cather Scholarly Edition includes a historical essay providing fresh insight into the novel and Cather’s writing process, photographs and maps, and explanatory notes providing a full range of biographical and historical information. The novel, edited according to standards set by the Committee on Scholarly Editions of the Modern Language Association, presents a clean, authoritative text of the first edition and charts the subsequent drastic revisions.



Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-xii

The objective of the Willa Cather Scholarly Edition is to provide to readers—present and future—various kinds of information relevant to Willa Cather’s writing, obtained and presented according to the highest scholarly standards: a critical text faithful to her intention as she prepared it for the first edition, ...

The Song of the Lark


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pp. xv-xvi

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Part I: Friends of Childhood

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pp. 1-176

Dr. Howard Archie had just come up from a game of pool with the Jewish clothier and two traveling men who happened to be staying overnight in Moonstone. His offices were in the Duke Block, over the drug store. Larry, the doctor’s man, had lit the overhead light in the waitingroom and the double student’s lamp on the desk in the study. ...

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Part II: The Song of the Lark

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pp. 177-274

Thea and Dr. Archie had been gone from Moonstone four days. On the afternoon of the nineteenth of October they were in a street-car, riding through the depressing, unkept wastes of North Chicago, on their way to call upon the Reverend Lars Larsen, a friend to whom Mr. Kronborg had written. ...

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Part III: Stupid Faces

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pp. 275-322

So many grinning, stupid faces! Thea was sitting by the window in Bowers’s studio, waiting for him to come back from lunch. On her knee was the latest number of an illustrated musical journal in which musicians great and little stridently advertised their wares. Every afternoon she played accompaniments for people who looked and smiled like these. ...

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Part IV: The Ancient People

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pp. 323-378

The San Francisco Mountain lies in northern Arizona, above Flagstaff, and its blue slopes and snowy summit entice the eye for a hundred miles across the desert. About its base lie the pine forests of the Navajos, where the great redtrunked trees live out their peaceful centuries in that sparkling air. ...

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Part V: Dr. Archie’s Venture

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pp. 379-420

Dr. Howard Archie had come down to Denver for a meeting of the stockholders in the San Felipe silver mine. It was not absolutely necessary for him to come, but he had no very pressing cases at home. Winter was closing down in Moonstone, and he dreaded the dullness of it. ...

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Part VI: Kronborg

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pp. 421-528

It is a glorious winter day. Denver, standing on her high plateau under a thrilling green-blue sky, is masked in snow and glittering with sunlight. The Capitol building is actually in armor, and throws off the shafts of the sun until the beholder is dazzled and the outlines of the building are lost in a blaze of reflected light. ...

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pp. 529-540

Moonstone again, in the year 1909. The Methodists are giving an ice-cream sociable in the grove about the new court-house. It is a warm summer night of full moon. The paper lanterns which hang among the trees are foolish toys, only dimming, in little lurid circles, the great softness of the lunar light that floods the blue heavens and the high plateau. ...

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pp. 541-546

The textual editing of The Song of the Lark was begun by Noel Polk (University of Southern Mississippi), who graciously shared his materials when he was unable to go on with the project. Kari Ronning is particularly indebted to Elizabeth Burke and the late Frederick M. Link, who assisted in the remaining collations, ...

Historical Apparatus

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pp. 547-548

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Historical Essay

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pp. 549-616

The Song of the Lark was Willa Cather’s third novel, but the first to make extensive use of biographical materials, her own and others’. In this novel she drew on her memories of the people and places she had known as she grew up; in fact, she told her friend Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant that she had given Thea so many of her own experiences ...

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Preface to the 1932 Jonathan Cape Edition

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pp. 617-618

The Song of the Lark was written in the years 1914 and 1915. The title of the book is unfortunate; many readers take it for granted that the ‘‘lark song’’ refers to the vocal accomplishments of the heroine, which is altogether a mistake. Her song was not of the sky-lark order. ...


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Explanatory Notes

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pp. 619-810

Textual Apparatus

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pp. 811-812

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Textual Essay

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pp. 813-850

This twelfth volume of the Willa Cather Scholarly Edition presents a critical text of Cather’s third novel, The Song of the Lark, published by Houghton Mifflin on 2 October 1915. A British edition was published by the John Murray Company in 1916, and another version, with a preface, was printed by Jonathan Cape in 1932. ...


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pp. 851-860

Notes on Emendations

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pp. 861-862

Table of Rejected Substantives

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pp. 863-910

Word Division

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pp. 911-925

E-ISBN-13: 9780803244726
E-ISBN-10: 080324472X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780803214026

Page Count: 976
Illustrations: 41 illustrations, 5 maps
Publication Year: 2012

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Women singers -- Fiction.
  • Children of clergy -- Fiction.
  • Swedish Americans -- Fiction.
  • Chicago (Ill.) -- Fiction.
  • Young women -- Fiction.
  • Colorado -- Fiction.
  • Opera -- Fiction.
  • Musical fiction.
  • Bildungsromans. -- gsafd.
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