- A Lost LadyThe End of the First Cycle
1. Willa Cather, “Nebraska: the End of the First Cycle,” Nation, 117 (September 5, 1923), 236–238.
2. For Willa Cather the mountain was an important symbol, particularly in its association with “the Rock” motif that runs throughout her fiction. As early as 1896, in the short story “On the Divide,” she observed that “Milton made a sad mistake when he put mountains in hell. Mountains postulate faith and aspiration.”
3. Willa Cather, A Lost Lady (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1923), p. 32. Future references will be documented in the text.
4. Willa Cather was insistent in her belief that a writer need not be contemporary in the matter of external detail to fulfill his obligations to art and to society, and she also believed that each writer had “to work with his own material.” Willa Cather’s “own” material was the West —the Western land and the Western people. This material she turned into the eternal material of art; and, though she wrote about Nebraska pioneers of the last half of the nineteenth century, she created art for her own society. A Lost Lady strikes the note of America during the 1920’s.