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O Pioneers! (Oxford World's Classics) by…
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O Pioneers! (Oxford World's Classics) (original 1913; edition 2008)

by Willa Cather, Marilee Lindemann (Editor)

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3,568751,480 (3.88)330
Member:sjmccreary
Title:O Pioneers! (Oxford World's Classics)
Authors:Willa Cather
Other authors:Marilee Lindemann (Editor)
Info:Oxford University Press, USA (2008), Paperback, 224 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:fiction, historical, classic, Nebraska, farmers, pioneers, 19th C, 999 challenge

Work details

O Pioneers! by Willa Cather (1913)

  1. 21
    The Diary of Mattie Spenser by Sandra Dallas (clif_hiker)
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  3. 00
    Metamorphoses by Ovid (cloverofdover)
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Showing 1-5 of 73 (next | show all)
Wow. This book... it kind of blew me away. Reading it evoked such strong mental images, it was almost like the book in my hands was a movie in my head. I read "Shadows on the Rock" once, but I don't remember it having this kind of effect.

I also liked the way the characters are reintroduced in each section. Especially the first two sections, the characters are described with indefinite articles, so they appear more at a distance and unfamiliar to us readers. Because of this, the changes in their character are highlighted. We can be pretty sure the character is the protagonist we think it is,but it isn't completely certain until we actually read the name.

So, basically, I thought this book was really, really well written. Also, it re-whetted my appetite for Midwestern American Pioneer history. I'll have to re-read all of the Little House books sometime soon. ( )
  GraceZ | Sep 6, 2014 |
What a wonderful novel. It's the story of a Bohemian farm girl in Nebraska who runs the family farm with her father from the time she is 12, and on her own after he dies. Her ideas make the family rich, but she isn't appreciated by her two dull-witted brothers.

It's also two love stories, one between Alexandra and her childhood friend and another that involves her best friend Maria and...well...I don't want to give too much away. ( )
  JackieCarroll | Sep 4, 2014 |
Willa Cather has come highly recommended, but I'm only now getting around to reading her work for the first time. I see why she was recommended. The writing is my style: poetic and intelligent without losing focus on the story. I love that. I think I'll be very pleased reading her work in the years to come.

That being said, this story was a little too dry at times. I loved the language, and I liked the characters (though they were slightly formulaic), but I'd like to have seen a little more movement, a little more ambition. O Pioneers! was only Cather's second novel; I have high hopes for some of her later novels. ( )
  chrisblocker | Aug 31, 2014 |
I've heard about this for years. It's supposed to be a classic & I don't know exactly what I expected, but this wasn't it. There wasn't enough detail to really catch my attention. It was a bit of a character study of the strong people that built our country, but they were all caricatures. Silly, virginal love threads intertwined with tough characters in a really interesting landscape & time that didn't get nearly enough attention. A lot of good elements, but it just didn't do much for me. It started out kind of slow & then fizzled out altogether, although it had moments when it was interesting. But, then went wandering off, once by jumping years into the future.

It does show a strong woman who not only endured, but thrived, making something of herself & family in a time when that was very tough, but only on the most cursory level. We're told of her achievements mostly in the past. The lack of immediacy & detail undercut the impact. Worse, the end seemed to undercut much of that. Alexandra finally marries & he isn't really a winner, although he isn't as much of a loser as Emile, the little brother that she relied on as her reason for living. Why did she need to live for a man? How could she decide that it was Marie & Emile's fault? Or let Frank get away with blaming the gun? They didn't pull the trigger nor did the gun. It made no sense to me.

The narrator was pretty good most of the time except when she tried sounds other than standard narration. Accents were too thick & any songs were just a horror. Luckily, there wasn't much of either. ( )
  jimmaclachlan | Aug 18, 2014 |
This book is truly proof that great things come in small packages! The story of pioneers from Norway and Sweden in Nebraska, this embraces every aspect of human nature. Alexandra loves the land and her family, her older brothers are somewhat simple, jealous, and mean spirited. Her youngest brother Emil, is smart and thoughtful. Her neighbors run the gambit of all of human nature.

This book starts in a deceptively slow way and builds to a powerful ending.

My favorite quote: "Freedom so often means that one isn't needed anywhere." ( )
  elsyd | Aug 12, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (24 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Willa Catherprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cather, WillaAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Byatt, A. S.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lindemann, MarileeEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Perrin, NoelAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weakley, MarkIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Prairie Spring

Evening and the flat land,
Rich and sombre and always silent;
The miles of fresh-plowed soil,
Heavy and black, full of strength and harshness;
The growing wheat, the growing weeds,
The toiling horses, the tired men;
The long empty roads,
Sullen fires of sunset, fading,
The eternal, unresponsive sky.
Against all this, Youth,
Flaming like the wild roses,
Singing like the larks over the plowed fields,
Flashing like a star out of the twilight;
Youth with its insupportable sweetness,
Its fierce necessity,
Its sharp desire,
Singing and singing,
Out of the lips of silence,
Out of the earthy dusk.
Dedication
To the memory of
Sarah Orne Jewett
in whose beautiful and delicate work
there is the perfection
that endures
First words
One January day, thirty years ago, the little town of Hanover, anchored on a windy Nebraska tableland, was trying not to be blown away. A mist of fine snowflakes was curling and eddying about the cluster of low drab buildings huddled on the gray prairie, under a gray sky. The dwelling-houses were set about haphazard on the tough prairie sod; some of them looked as if they had been moved in overnight, and others as if they were straying off by themselves, headed straight for the open plain. None of them had any appearance of permanence, and the howling wind blew under them as well as over them. The main street was a deeply rutted road, now frozen hard, which ran from the squat red railway station and the grain “elevator” at the north end of the town to the lumber yard and the horse pond at the south end. On either side of this road straggled two uneven rows of wooden buildings; the general merchandise stores, the two banks, the drug store, the feed store, the saloon, the post-office. The board sidewalks were gray with trampled snow, but at two o’clock in the afternoon the shopkeepers, having come back from dinner, were keeping well behind their frosty windows. The children were all in school, and there was nobody abroad in the streets but a few rough-looking countrymen in coarse overcoats, with their long caps pulled down to their noses. Some of them had brought their wives to town, and now and then a red or a plaid shawl flashed out of one store into the shelter of another. At the hitch-bars along the street a few heavy work-horses, harnessed to farm wagons, shivered under their blankets. About the station everything was quiet, for there would not be another train in until night.
Quotations
The history of every country begins in the heart of a man or a woman.
People have to snatch at happiness when they can, in this world. It is always easier to lose than to find.
Those fields, colored by various grain!
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Alexandra is the eldest child of the Bergsons, a ship-building family from Norway who have come to the American Midwest to wrest their living from another kind of frontier. Alexandra is driven by two great forces:her fierce protective love for her young brother Emil, and her deep love of the land. When her father dies, worn out by disease and debt, it is she who becomes head of the family and begins the long, hard process of taming the country, forcing it to yield wheat and corn where only the grass and wildflowers had grown since time began. Through the life, hopes, successes - and failures - of this magnificent woman we learn the story of all the immigrants who came to carve out new homes for themselves, who struggled against ignorance, drought, storm, poverty and came to love and understand the earth until it rewarded them with richness beyond measure.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679743626, Paperback)

One of America’s greatest women writers, Willa Cather established her talent and her reputation with this extraordinary novel—the first of her books set on the Nebraska frontier. A tale of the prairie land encountered by America’s Swedish, Czech, Bohemian, and French immigrants, as well as a story of how the land challenged them, changed them, and, in some cases, defeated them, Cather’s novel is a uniquely American epic.

Alexandra Bergson, a young Swedish immigrant girl who inherits her father’s farm and must transform it from raw prairie into a prosperous enterprise, is the first of Cather’s great heroines—all of them women of strong will and an even stronger desire to overcome adversity and succeed. But the wild land itself is an equally important character in Cather’s books, and her descriptions of it are so evocative, lush, and moving that they provoked writer Rebecca West to say of her: “The most sensuous of writers, Willa Cather builds her imagined world almost as solidly as our five senses build the universe around us.”

Willa Cather, perhaps more than any other American writer, was able to re-create the real drama of the pioneers, capturing for later generations a time, a place, and a spirit that has become part of our national heritage.


From the Paperback edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:19:41 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Swedish farmer John Bergson's daughter Alexandra encourages the family members to help keep his dream alive after his death.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 24 descriptions

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