In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviews 131 reminder, even if A Reader’s Guide to the Short Fiction of Willa Cather is not to provide such analytical insight or break any new critical ground itself. Rather, it should prove to be a well-worn volume on research shelves, well-used by those who recall some resonance or who have some sense of a connection across Cather’s career. It demonstrates how Cather explored and stored her major themes in these early works, only to bring them more fully forth in her mature fiction. KEVIN A. SYNNOTT The Sage Colleges Willa Cather. ByEdward Wagenknecht. (New York: Continuum Press, 1994. 203 pages, $19.95.) Edward Wagenknecht’s Willa Cather is a critical-biographical overview in the psychographic style Wagenknecht used in Nathaniel Hawthorne: Man and Writer (1961), Ralph Waldo Emerson: Portrait of a Balanced Soul (1972), and numerous other critical portraits. Like these studies, Willa Catheris organized topically rather than chronologically. Part 1 discusses Cather’s life, reading, theories offiction, and first books; Part 2 gives insightful and incisive interpre­ tations of the works themselves; and Part 3 analyzes Cather’s character and personality. Wagenknecht provides not only important details of Cather’s life but also a true sense ofCather as a person. His style is simply delightful—clear, concise, often dry and witty, as when he comments about Cather’s “fluttering the dovecotes” in Red Cloud with her oration on “Superstition versus Investiga­ tion”in 1890. He is not afraid to rattle critical cages with a minority opinion, as when he unabashedly asserts that of the Troll Garden stories “‘A Death in the Desert’ has been . . . generally underrated” and “‘Paul’s Case’ has been as unwisely overrated.” Sound, succinct interpretive overviews follow discussing Cather’s novels of “fulfillment” and “frustration.” He concurs with general critical opinion that “My Antonia and Death Comesfor the Archbishop are Willa Cather’s most significant novels”but he frankly adds that the two he “loves best are Shadows on the Rock and Lucy Gayheart.” He concludes with brief critical summaries offorty-five “uncollected”stories, each now available in at least one collection. A brief chronology, helpful notes, a bibliography of books on Cather, and an index round out the critical apparatus. Wagenknecht obviously has a deep love -and understanding of Cather’s works as well as great respect for her as a woman and a writer. Characterizing Cather as “intense”and “forthright,”he admits that in her early drama reviews she could be “cruel” even if “correct.” However, he refutes “the charges of racism and, more specifically, anti-Semitism that some have seen fit to bring against her” and responds to “recent writers [who] have seen fit to speak of 132 Western American Literature Miss Cather as a lesbian.” In his preface, Wagenknecht muses that “Miss Cather must hate many recent ‘interpretations’ofherwork that make her over into what she was not.”Wagenknecht’s Willa Catherhas earned a place on my shelf of “favorite”books on Cather, along with Woodress, Rosowski, Murphy, Stouck, Skaggs, and Arnold. ANN MOSELEY East Texas State University Cather Studies, Volume 2. Edited by Susan J. Rosowski. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1993. 185 pages, $30.00.) The second installment in this biennial gathering sacrifices some quality in pursuit of contemporary approaches, although several traditionalists are represented and do crediblejobs. Loretta Wasserman carefully traces Cather’s execution ofJewish charac­ ters from the early, slack portrait ofLichtenstein in “The Marriage of Phaedra” to the sympathetically wrought Rosens in “Old Mrs. Harris” but less convinc­ ingly cites the novelist’s allegorical bent to excuse some obvious prejudice. Merrill Maguire Scaggs adds to our understanding of Cather’s use of Francis Parkman’s histories in Shadows on the Rock as Edward and Lillian Bloom did years ago with W.J. Howlett’s biography of Bishop Machebeuf as a source of Death Comesfor the Archbishop, exploring the artistic process of selection and embroidering.James Woodress’scomparison of Cather and Alphonse Daudet (one of her masters) as kindred spirits poses the possibility that Daudet might have inspired Cather to remain single. A new Cather voice, Matthias Schubnell, ably evaluates Godfrey St. Peter and Tom Outland in TheProfessor's House as representative of...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 131-132
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.