- Little, Brown Book Group
- Publication Date:
- 07 September 2006
- Modern & Contemporary
Showing 1-4 out of 92 reviews. Previous | Next
"The respect for respectablity was stronger than any desire in Black Hawk youth.""The country girls were considered a menace to the social order. Their beauty shone out too boldly against a conventional background." "When boys and girls are growing up, life can't stand still, not even in the quietest of country towns; and they have to grow up, whether they will or no. That is what their elders are always forgetting." (p. 124) Willa Cather thought is was important for elders not to forget. So before feminine memoirs were as easily accepted or read, she chose to create a young male narrative voice, with tremendously feminine intelligence and sensitivities, for her generation and future generations to consider her coming of age rememberances. "I was not the only boy who found these dances gayer than the others." (p. 126) "Such disappointments only gave greater zest to the nights when we acted charades...with Sally always dressed like a boy." (p. 113) This book compares class prejudices of male vs. female, city vs. country, rich vs. poor, sane vs. "insane," working women vs. "refined" women, immigrant vs. "indigenous," and denomination vs. denomination. The narrator admires how hard work and common effort can transform lives. Her work dignifies hated minorities. Johnnie is given strength and purpose from the love of his wife. The country girls become wealthier than the city folk through consistent physical labor & innovation. This book is unconventional rural fiction. It is not a romance about how the protagonist finally won Antonia. It is not simply a "pioneer struggle" tale. The book discusses at least two suicides, criminal negligence, stereotyped prejudgments, speculations on the causes of mental illness, community responses to "immorality" & "mental illness," and many more forward thinking issues. This might frustrate some readers looking for an easily categorizable plot line. The book is a series of recollections, with interwoven themes. "Family life in a little town is pretty deadly."Cather wrote: "There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before." I think she believed certain sub-plots arise with unexpected intensity because cultural rules often dictate that certain behaviors are improper or immoral to even discuss. And when there are no compassionate popular narratives informing us about common "uncommon" behaviors, that absence of shared stories & sympathies, can lead to fierce tragedies. Willa Cather wanted to discuss those behaviors, to the degree her era allowed. She was brave. When her longtime friend Isabelle McClung married, her natural exuberance drained away. (p. xxiii) She "dedicated 'The Song of the Lark' to Isabelle, and confessed to a friend that everything she had written was for her." (p. xii) She danced on controversial lines, naming her "O Pioneers!" novel after a line in a Walt Whitman poem. She lived with Edith Lewis for 40 years. It doesn't take a genius to connect the likely dots. I recommend the edition with Doris Grumbach's excellent and interesting biographical & bibliographical introduction to Cather's work, personal hardships, & creative philosophies. Cather wrote: "The thing that teases the mind over and over for years, and at last gets itself put down rightly on paper - whether little or great, it belongs to Literature."When I read on Wikipedia that "at the time of her death, she ordered her personal letters burned," a wave of sadness passed over me. She spent a lifetime often writing through male protagonists, with voices that had positive perspectives from both genders. I can respect her wish to protect her privacy and the privacy of those who wrote to her, given the character assassination (and worse) that often occurs to people who make certain sexual, relationship, and gender choices. I hope voices like Cather's understand their goodness, and I hope they don't destroy intimate parts of themselves.
This book was interesting. The way the characters act, and the way they aren't what you would expect made it that more interesting to read. Taking place in a small Nebraska town, it teaches us that no matter where you come from or the kind of life you live you can be tolerante and accepting. It was very exciting to read, but I felt that every now and then, it was predictable. But about half way through the story, things stray away from predictable, and become anything but. It was much better to read the second half for me. I would recomend this book to you, but don't put it down because of the first half. Read on and find an amazing novel that is well thought and beautiful.
A very enjoyable story set in Nebraska during the late 1800's and early 1900's. The story is narrated by a young man named Jim, who lives with his grandparents in the Nebraska flat lands. He tells of the hardships of the early settlers to the area. The story mainly revolves around a young woman named Antonia and Jim who grow up together but go their seperate ways in later years.
I read this as a special educator coteaching in the American Heritage classroom. The teachers used this work to develop deeper understandings about challenges facing the early settlers of western expansion. To this end, I think the choice of novel was successful, but My Antonia is so much more. Cather's beautiful depiction of the the landscape and the trials and tribulations of life on the frontier in addition to her round characters facing issues that touch our world even today make this a literary classic. I personally loved the strong female characters Cather describes for the reader and despite their character flaws, one loves them nonetheless because we feel their "humanness." My Antonia provides the reader with lessons learned about tolerance, hard work, gender roles, and the hidden rules of society. A great classic to add to any library!
Reviews provided by Librarything.
No reviews here.