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The Selected Letters of Willa Cather

Willa Cather and Others

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Description

This first publication of the letters of one of America’s most consistently admired writers is both an exciting and a significant literary event. Willa Cather, wanting to be judged on her work alone, clearly forbade the publication of her letters in her will. But now, more than sixty-five years after her death, with her literary reputation as secure as a reputation can be, the letters have become available for publication.

The 566 letters collected here, nearly 20 percent of the total, range from the funny (and mostly misspelled) reports of life in Red Cloud in the 1880s that Cather wrote as a teenager, through those from her college years at the University of Nebraska, her time as a journalist in Pittsburgh and New York, and during her growing eminence as a novelist. Postcards and letters describe her many travels around the United States and abroad, and they record her last years in the 1940s, when the loss of loved ones and the disasters of World War II brought her near to despair. Written to family and close friends and to such luminaries as Sarah Orne Jewett, Robert Frost, Yehudi Menuhin, Sinclair Lewis, and the president of Czechoslovakia, Thomas Masaryk, they reveal her in her daily life as a woman and writer passionately interested in people, literature, and the arts in general.

The voice heard in these letters is one we already know from her fiction: confident, elegant, detailed, openhearted, concerned with profound ideas, but also at times funny, sentimental, and sarcastic. Unfiltered as only intimate communication can be, they are also full of small fibs, emotional outbursts, inconsistencies, and the joys and sorrows of the moment. The Selected Letters is a deep pleasure to read and to ponder, sure to appeal to those with a special devotion to Cather as well as to those just making her acquaintance.

Publishers Weekly Review

Feb 04, 2013 – By all rights, this excellent volume of Willa Cather’s letters should not be: in her will, the celebrated American writer specified that none of her correspondence was to be published, ever. Fortunately for general readers and scholars alike, that demand has not been heeded. The letters in this collection have been gathered from the 3,000 that survive in nearly 75 archives across the country. This prodigious editorial feat gives readers a glimpse for the first time into the life and mind of the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of O Pioneers! Beginning with a witty missive written in 1888 when she was only 14, the volume continues through her early years as a successful magazine editor for McLure’s, into the 1910s and ’20s, when she experienced success as a novelist, all the way through to her death in 1947. In addition to exchanges with her family and close friends, the volume contains correspondence with significant literary and artistic figures of the time, including Alfred Knopf, Robert Frost, Yehudi Menuhin, and Thornton Wilder. The editors, meanwhile, have copiously annotated the volume, adding biographical details to flesh out ellipses, as well as providing a useful directory of Cather’s correspondents. Throughout, Cather emerges as a humorous, profound, and difficult personality whose cosmopolitan life and commitment to crafting a successful public persona should challenge misconceptions. 22 photos.
The Selected Letters of Willa Cather
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  • $14.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Literary Criticism
  • Published: Apr 16, 2013
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Random House, LLC
  • Print Length: 752 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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