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My Antonia by Willa Cather
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My Antonia (1918)

by Willa Cather

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Prairie Trilogy (3)

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English (183)  Italian (1)  German (1)  All languages (185)
Showing 1-5 of 183 (next | show all)
I had forgotten how achingly beautiful this book is. Nostalgic, yes (nothing wrong with nostalgia), but also clear-eyed. Marred by some casual, benevolent racism, as you might expect.
So glad I reread it. ( )
  JoePhelan | Dec 14, 2014 |
Beautiful book about living on the prairie at the turn of the century. Coming of age. Old fashioned language and culture probably make this a rigorous book under the common core. Fine for sixth grade on up. ( )
  amydelpo | Dec 9, 2014 |
A Cather classic...but, I kept waiting for some excitement and all that I got was cows growing and lowing. The story of a turn of the (20th) century Nebraska family scratching out a living on the prairie. Also, it traces an extremely resilient girl who grows to womanhood as farm wife and whelps out ten children. To the author's credit, the characters are well developed and I felt that I knew each by the time the story was finis. I kept waiting for Jim and Antonia to run away and live happily ever after; sadly, nothing happened.zzzzz ( )
  buffalogr | Dec 8, 2014 |
Apparently I should never live on the prairie, because it is so mind numbingly boring I think I'd sprout cobwebs in my brain. ( )
  locriian | Oct 27, 2014 |
Nebraska pioneer life through the eyes of a young boy Jim. He recalls his boyhood love, Antonia, who becomes the strong pioneer woman rich in family, land, livestock and a sense of peace. ( )
  nanaval | Oct 10, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 183 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (42 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Willa Catherprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Benda, W. T.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Benda, W. T.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Byatt, A.S.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Colacci, DavidNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Norris, KathleenForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Optima dies . . . prima fugit
-Virgil
Dedication
To Carrie and Irene Miner in memory of affections old and true.
First words
I first heard of Ántonia on what seemed to me an interminable journey across the great midland plain of North America. I was ten years old then; I had lost both my father and mother within a year, and my Virginia relatives were sending me out to my grandparents, who lived in Nebraska. I traveled in the care of a mountain boy, Jake Marpole, one of the “hands” on my father’s old farm under the Blue Ridge, who was now going West to work for my grandfather. Jake’s experience of the world was not much wider than mine. He had never been in a railway train until the morning when we set out together to try our fortunes in a new world.
"When a writer begins to work with his own material," said Willa Cather, in a retrospective preface to her first novel, Alexander's Bridge, "he has less and less choice about the moulding of it. (Preface)
Quotations
He placed this book in my grandmother's hands, looked at her entreatingly, and said, with an earnestness which I shall never forget, "Te-e-ach, te-e-ach my Ántonia!"
Because he talked so little, his words had a peculiar force; they were not worn dull from constant use.
Lena was Pussy so often that she finally said she wouldn't play any more.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
My Ántonia chronicles the life of Ántonia, a Bohemian immigrant woman, as seen through the eyes of Jim, the man unable to forget her. Jim, now a successful New York lawyer, recollects his upbringing on a Nebraska farm. Even after 20 years, Ántonia continues to live a romantic life in his imagination. When he returns to Nebraska, he finds Ántonia has lived a battered life. Although the man to whom she dedicated her life abandons her, she remains strong and full of courage.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 039575514X, Paperback)

It seems almost sacrilege to infringe upon a book as soulful and rich as Willa Cather's My Ántonia by offering comment. First published in 1918, and set in Nebraska in the late 19th century, this tale of the spirited daughter of a Bohemian immigrant family planning to farm on the untamed land ("not a country at all but the material out of which countries are made") comes to us through the romantic eyes of Jim Burden. He is, at the time of their meeting, newly orphaned and arriving at his grandparents' neighboring farm on the same night her family strikes out to make good in their new country. Jim chooses the opening words of his recollections deliberately: "I first heard of Ántonia on what seemed to be an interminable journey across the great midland plain of North America," and it seems almost certain that readers of Cather's masterpiece will just as easily pinpoint the first time they heard of Ántonia and her world. It seems equally certain that they, too, will remember that moment as one of great light in an otherwise unremarkable trip through the world.

Ántonia, who, even as a grown woman somewhat downtrodden by circumstance and hard work, "had not lost the fire of life," lies at the center of almost every human condition that Cather's novel effortlessly untangles. She represents immigrant struggles with a foreign land and tongue, the restraints on women of the time (with which Cather was very much concerned), the more general desires for love, family, and companionship, and the great capacity for forbearance that marked the earliest settlers on the frontier.

As if all this humanity weren't enough, Cather paints her descriptions of the vastness of nature--the high, red grass, the road that "ran about like a wild thing," the endless wind on the plains--with strokes so vivid as to make us feel in our bones that we've just come in from a walk on that very terrain ourselves. As the story progresses, Jim goes off to the University in Lincoln to study Latin (later moving on to Harvard and eventually staying put on the East Coast in another neat encompassing of a stage in America's development) and learns Virgil's phrase "Optima dies ... prima fugit" that Cather uses as the novel's epigraph. "The best days are the first to flee"--this could be said equally of childhood and the earliest hours of this country in which the open land, much like My Ántonia, was nothing short of a rhapsody in prairie sky blue. --Melanie Rehak

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:46:47 -0400)

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A New York lawyer remembers his boyhood in Nebraska and his friendship with a pioneer Bohemian girl.

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