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Reviews 311 is to oversimplify the organic unity of nature and sophistication which Norris sought to capture. My objections, however, even if right, illustrate the provocative quality and the value of this book. Professor Hart has made available materials and ideas which should have been made available and which will repay further study. M ax W estb ro o k , The University of Texas at Austin The World and the Parish: Willa Cather’s Articles and Reviews, 1893-1902. Selected and edited with a commentary by William M. Curtin. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1970. Two volumes, xxi -f 1039 pages, chronology, appendices, a note on the enditing, biblio, acknowledgments, index, $30.00.) In the editing of these two large volumes of articles and reviews, William M. Curtin has worked carefully to bring consistency to a good many variants in the original publishing. He gives a full explanation of the practices he has employed in his “Note on the Editing.” In the bibliography he lists more than five hundred pieces, of which over half are in the two volumes. He has identified many new unsigned articles as Miss Cather’s. This is the kind of painstaking job somebody must do to furnish us with the early work which frequently precedes that of a creative writer of stature and which reveals a good deal about the processes of that writer’s development. The printing in the volumes is also beautifully done. The present volumes are the latest in a series covering the first twenty years of Cather’s work. The volumes previously published present her early stories, her criticism, and her poems of the early period. Miss Cather published a great deal in these years, and as a columnist she did it under many disguises. At least one more volume covering the same years as this latest will be published, as well as additional bibliographical material. In his work on the present venture, Curtin has recorded the story of Willa Cather’s life as we see her at the opera, the horse show, or the art gallery, always commenting, reviewing, judging, expanding, maturing. The work opens with Cather sketches of remarkable maturity, coming as they do from a girl just two years out of the raw frontier of southern Nebraska. There she is reviewing a variety of experiences—from the lively musical scene of the Salvation Army to the contained dignity of the Catholic cathedral. Cather is seen hovering over the body of a man newly dead, his hair neatly combed by the undertaker; listening to a humble orator or the silvertongued William Jennings Bryan addressing Nebraskans on a variety of moving topics of the day. As the sketches of Miss Cather materialize, we are once more reading the journal of a Hawthorne, an Emerson, or a Thoreau; but now the journal 312 Western American Literature appears in the form of precociously mature prose for one so young and in­ experienced in the larger world. The raw material of the later Cather stories and novels is here—the people, the situations, sometimes the phrases, the refer­ ences to Cather’s reading, to the events of her youth, to the ‘‘passing show” in the arts and entertainments of her day. Curtin gives a capsule review of New York theater history in the late nineteenth century—and of theater in Lincoln too, a microcosm of the big city’s broader scene. Julia Marlowe, Helena Modjeska, Sarah Bernhardt appear in the flesh. The artist’s need of essential integrity, later to be fully developed in The Song of the Lark, appears briefly but repeatedly in the articles on the theater, whether of dramatic or musical production. We also see Cather’s “meatax” articles, which scorched the inept actor or actress so that her fame as a critic spread afar. Cather’s interest in the local scene ranged from the despised principal who rigorously examined teacher candidates in mathetmatics (her own buga­ boo) to the impact upon herself of the world’s contemporary leading men of letters. Presently, on die Pittsburgh Home Monthly, Cather yearned for a higher or more serious level of writing, but she turned out what was de­ manded, and did it...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 311-313
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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