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My Antonia (Signet Classics) by Willa Cather
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My Antonia (Signet Classics) (original 1918; edition 2005)

by Willa Cather, Marilyn Sides (Introduction)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
9,154207327 (3.92)778
Member:EfEh
Title:My Antonia (Signet Classics)
Authors:Willa Cather
Other authors:Marilyn Sides (Introduction)
Info:Signet Classics (2005), Edition: Reissue, Mass Market Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:***
Tags:fiction, p/b, borrowed, America

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My Antonia by Willa Cather (1918)

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» See also 778 mentions

English (204)  Italian (1)  Piratical (1)  German (1)  All languages (207)
Showing 1-5 of 204 (next | show all)
Such a gem. Makes me smile even thinking about it. ( )
  BrydieWalkerBain | Apr 26, 2016 |
A boy moves in with his grandparents in rural Nebraska, meets some immigrant neighbors, later moves to the city. There isn't much in the way of plot, which usually bothers me but for some reason didn't this time. I was content to just let the story flow without worrying about where it was going, if anywhere. I think part of it was that the location - nature, weather, scenery - was such a big part of the story. This is not the sort of book I'd want to reread (especially the last section when everyone is all grown up), and honestly I'm not even sure who I'd recommend it to, if anyone. But I'm glad to have read it all the same, and some day I hope to visit rural Nebraska to see these lushly described locales in person (if they still exist). ( )
  melydia | Apr 14, 2016 |
Wow, the first page just about made me cry -- brought back memories from childhood. I'm glad I finally picked this up. I also cried at the end -- don't worry nothing bad happens, it just reminded me so much of growing up in rural America. Great job, Willa Cather! Now I know why this book has survived through the ages. ( )
  sydsavvy | Apr 8, 2016 |
Combining the immigrant experience with the hardships of pioneer life on the harsh Nebraskan prairie, the novel, as romanticised through the lens of the male narrator, is most notable for its feminist portrayal of its female characters, who do not allow their foreign-ness and gender to dictate the limits of their lives. Their resilience, whether while working on the prairie to the disapproval to other farming families or in town shunned by the town folks, is commendable but also typical of the traits needed to survive and succeed in this new land.

The Nebraskan prairie itself is arguably the main protagonist, whose formidably flat country with long red grass and coppery sky is evoked by the lush imagery, who controls people's livelihoods with its unpredictable moods of weathers, yet inspires in the people an ineffable affinity to the land. Since the novel is told anecdotally by Jim's memories, it is inevitable that his innate sexism such as, his annoyance that despite being a girl, Ántonia treats him like she is somehow older than him... which she is occasionally rears its ugly head. However, the bittersweet memories of prairie life and the stoic Ántonia's evident passion for the land make this an unforgettable read. ( )
  kitzyl | Mar 6, 2016 |
Date noted is when my F2F book club discussed this classic work. I had read it first back when I was in junior high. The first "adult" book I ever read. ( )
  BookConcierge | Feb 8, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (36 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Willa Catherprimary authorall 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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:51 -0400)

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

(summary from another edition)

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