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One of Ours by Willa Cather
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One of Ours

by Willa Cather

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Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
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  JMlibrarian | Feb 27, 2015 |
Too old-fashioned for my tastes ultimately. Everyone is charmingly quaint and the storyline lacks any punch. The protagonist doesn't feel at home in his own hometown, so he joins the Navy where he finds some of what he is looking for. The novel criticizes technology and the innovations of society which followed the population of the American frontier. The protagonist looks to the past for comfort and finds what he desires in France. I think that a nation troubled by war is hardly the place of one's dreams and find the concept a bit condescending. ( )
  dulcinea14 | Sep 18, 2014 |
I find I just need to sit quitely after finishing a Willa Cather. This was profoundly moving, a brilliant character study and both a pro- and anti-war statement. Truly remarkable.
  amyem58 | Jul 16, 2014 |
One of Ours by Willa Cather; (4 1/2*)

This book is a beautifully written study of a sensitive, idealistic young man. But what elevates it to near masterpiece status is its extremely subtle depiction of the excesses of idealism. Trapped in a grubby, increasingly materialistic world, Claude yearns for something noble and meaningful. Unfortunately he finds it only in the patriotic fervor that swept America into The Great War, the most brutal, senseless war in history. Writing from Claude's viewpoint, Cather almost makes you think that the exhilaration of fighting for a noble cause does indeed justify the terrible toll of war, but not quite, because she occasionally drops tiny hints that Claude's newly found, heartfelt sense of purpose and engagement might be deluded and tragic. The final chapter told from his mother's viewpoint is devastating.

The independent minded reader might keep comparing Claude's feeling about the glory of war with the fact that patriotic passion, fight and die for the homeland, has sent untold millions of soldiers to their death since nearly the dawn of time. Cather does little to help you maintain that all important perspective. I think she made it all too easy for conventional minded readers to take this story literally, as a tale of the glories of patriotism and sacrifice for home and country. It's never entirely clear whether and to what extent Cather sees through that horrendous myth. Perhaps that is the genius of the book; to force the reader to draw his own conclusions. Or perhaps as Hemingway always implied, Cather herself was seduced by the romantic, tragically blind view of the nobility of war. But I doubt that. I think that she was brilliant enough to leave us all wondering about that.

The book is pure genius. ( )
6 vote rainpebble | Mar 26, 2014 |
I read this book as part of the Virago Great War Theme Read, and really liked it. It is the story of Claude Wheeler, a Nebraska farm boy who is dissatisfied with his life. His parents send him to a religious college, when he would have preferred the State University, and the opportunities he thinks it would have given him. Claude's father gives him the opportunity to run the farm, and a few bad decisions on his part, only deepen his feelings that he is in the wrong place. Various situations and decisions continue to enhance these feelings. As war breaks out in Europe, Claude and his mother begin to devour the information they find in the newspapers, and pull out an unused map to find the places they are reading about. Claude begins to feel a sense of purpose and the need to get into uniform.

"One stormy morning Claude was driving the big wagon to town to get a load of lumber. The roads were beginning to thaw out, and the country was black and dirty looking. Here and there on the dark mud, grey snow crusts lingered, perforated like honeycomb, with wet weedstalks sticking up through them. As the wagon creaked over the high ground just above Frankfort, Claude noticed a brilliant new flag flying from the schoolhouse cupola. He had never seen the flag before when it meant anything but the Fourth of July, or a political rally. Today it was as if he saw it for the first time; no bands, no noise, no orators; a spot of restless colour against the sodden March sky."

This takes place at about 50% of the way through the book. The first half of the book is filled with descriptions of Nebraska and the people that Cather loved. In the second half of the book, war takes over as Claude, now a lieutenant, and his men travel overseas on a troop transport. Even here, Cather's descriptions of the people of France, who have lost almost everything and still have the courage to go on, are beautiful. Claude changes in the second half of the book too, as he interacts with these people and with the men he commands. This is a book about the war, and yet is very un-warlike. It is more a story of people and place. ( )
  NanaCC | Mar 24, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Willa Catherprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lee, HermioneIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Bidding the eagles of the West fly on . . .
Vachel Lindsay
Dedication
For my mother
VIRGINIA CATHER
First words
Claude Wheeler opened his eyes before the sun was up and vigorously shook his younger brother, who lay in the other half of the same bed.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Published in 1922, and winner of the Pullitzer Prize, One of Ours describes a young man's struggle to find a meaning in life beyond the increasing materialism of the Nebraskan farming community. In the figure of Claude Wheeler, Willa Cather looks back to an idealism seemingly discarded by twentieth-century values. Since childhood Claude has had an intuitive faith in "something splendid" and feels at odds with his contemporaries whose aspirations are more worldly. The First World War - with its call for heroic action - offers Claude the opportunity to forget his prosperous farm and his marriage of compromise. He readily enlists and in France discovers the comradeship and understanding he has lacked. But the message of this sensitive novel is ambivalent: whilst War may demand altruism, its essence is destructive.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679737448, Paperback)

Willa Cather's Pulitzer Prize-winning narrative of the making of a young American soldier

Claude Wheeler, the sensitive, aspiring protagonist of this beautifully modulated novel, resembles the youngest son of a peculiarly American fairy tale. His fortune is ready-made for him, but he refuses to settle for it. Alienated from his crass father and pious mother, all but rejected by a wife who reserves her ardor for missionary work, and dissatisfied with farming, Claude is an idealist without an ideal to cling to. It is only when his country enters the First World War that Claude finds what he has been searching for all his life.

In One of Ours Willa Cather explores the destiny of a grandchild of the pioneers, a young Nebraskan whose yearnings impel him toward a frontier bloodier and more distant than the one that vanished before his birth. In doing so, she creates a canny and extraordinarily vital portrait of an American psyche at once skeptical and romantic, restless and heroic.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:34:16 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Willa Cather's Pulitzer Prize-winning narrative of the making of a young American soldier Claude Wheeler, the sensitive, aspiring protagonist of this beautifully modulated novel, resembles the youngest son of a peculiarly American fairy tale. His fortune is ready-made for him, but he refuses to settle for it. Alienated from his crass father and pious mother, all but rejected by a wife who reserves her ardor for missionary work, and dissatisfied with farming, Claude is an idealist without an ideal to cling to. It is only when his country enters the First World War that Claude finds what he has been searching for all his life.… (more)

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