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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 29 (next | show all)
I love Willa Cather's stories built around the lives of folks on the prairie some century or more ago. This is another of those, mostly. It involves a young man, Claude, who grows up on a farm in western Nebraska. He feels that he doesn't fit in, for some reason he can't really articulate, and keeps searching for something more in life. He goes to college in Lincoln for a while, but his parents stop that nonsense when they realize he has academic aspirations, e.g. history, and their only reason for sending him was in case he might decide to be a preacher. So, he has to go back to make a life for himself on the farm.

His family gets quite interested in the reports of the doings in Europe regarding the beginning of World War I. After a few years, Claude sees a chance to try something different and enlists in the army. The last bit of the book describes his life in the army in France.

It's a good story. Cather doesn't go in for cheap melodrama. She just provides a calm recital of people's lives and explores their thoughts and feelings as they live those lives. She is truly a gem. I have no idea why I was put off by the idea of Cather in high school (probably my older sister's fault), despite never actually having had to read her. It's rather sad that I had to wait until I began bordering on dotage before I discovered this wonderful author. Then again, I also didn't really discover Dickens until I was approaching my dotage (and let's not forget Charlie Chan). I guess better late than never, huh? ( )
  lgpiper | Jun 21, 2019 |
One of Ours, winner of the 1923 Pulitzer Prize, is my third Willa Cather read, the first two being her more well-known stories Death Comes for the Archbishop and My Antonia. Cather’s prose is fabulous, as is her ability to bring to life her portrayal of Midwest Plains life. Her character development is exceptional, as is her vivid descriptions. Reading this one, it was like being exposed to a series of Impressionist agrarian paintings, where time (and technological advancements) move (are accepted) at a slower pace. I feel as though I intimately know both the land and the characters. The story focus is on Claude, an intelligent young man from a Nebraska farming family, who finds that his life does not have any purpose until he decides to enlist in the army to go and fight in the Great War. For Claude, this decision provides him with a way to fight for a higher purpose and contribute to the common good. Cather approach to war fiction (the second half of the story) is the same contemplative, introspective approach she takes when writing about hardscrabble Plains living. She does not sugar coat or exclude anything but she also does not dwell on graphic war details or focus on military strategy. Cather’s writing takes on a more holistic approach to the war, although the parts of the story set in France do not come across with the same graceful flow of the earlier sections of the story. Cather captures all of this through a slightly dreamy lens that may frustrate fans of war fiction like Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms (apparently, Hemingway was a vocal critic of One of Ours when it was published).

Overall, another wonderful story communicated through Cather’s simple, straightforward, descriptive prose. ( )
5 vote lkernagh | Jun 7, 2019 |
Cather's 1923 Pulitzer prize winning novel about Claude Wheeler, a Nebraska farm boy who never quite figures out what he wants to do with his life until he finally enlists in the Army to go fight in World War I. Where Hemingway provides a more stark account of life on and off the battlefield, Cather has a much more gentle and rolling prose that easily conveys the mystique of prairies as well as the wounded features of a war-torn France. Cather's characters are real, imperfect, and at times tortured by many of the selfsame questions that transcend generations: who am I, where do I belong, why am I here? Only the last third of the book really covers Claude's experience in Europe, but Cather does a superb job of capturing the experiences of young men going off to war, the waiting, the peril of a sea voyage, and the toils of combat. She must have read a great deal and spoken to a lot of veterans to have been able to retell it in her own way. One of my top five reads and an excellent supplement to a study in the Great War. ( )
1 vote traumleben | Apr 12, 2018 |
This is a splendid novel, well deserving of the Pulitzer Prize it received in 1923.

Claude Wheeler is a, idealistic, restless young farmer, pulled from a small religious college to be put in charge of his father's Nebraska farmlands. He feels he has no purpose in life, hemmed in by a narrow education and an American materialism that he finds meaningless.

It is only when he enlists in the Army as the US is pulled into WWI that he feels he find a purpose and sense of the wider world. He is sent to France and as a lieutenant leads his men into the horrors of trench warfare.

The novel has been criticized, most notably by Hemingway, as idealizing war, but I didn't see it that way at all. Certainly Cather is sympathetic to a young man's idealism that leads him to enlist to fight such a war, but her descriptions of the trenches and war-ravaged France leave no such impression.

The prose is gorgeous, and her characterizations are subtle and multi-faceted, even of minor characters. At times I was reminded of DH Lawrence's layers in a novel such as [Women in Love].

One of Ours, The Song of the Lark, and My Antonia are certainly Cather's best novels.

When Ernest left, Claude walked as far as the Yoeder's place with him, and came back across the snow-drifted field, under the frosty brilliance of the winter stars. As he looked up at them, he felt more than ever that they must have something to do with the fate of nations, and with the incomprehensible things that were happening in the world. In the ordered universe there must be some mind that read the riddle of this one unhappy planet, that knew what was forming in the dark eclipse of this hour. A question hung in the air; over all this quiet land about him, over him, over his mother, even. He was afraid for his country, as he had been that night on the State House steps in Denver, when this war was undreamed of, hidden in the womb of time. ( )
  janeajones | May 15, 2017 |
Most of us felt that One of Ours was not Cather's best work but liked the gentle telling of the story and the War. WWI was such a brutal war and could have been handled in a raw and ripping manner, much as Hemingway felt Cather should have done. We felt like we knew Claude but were frustrated by his malaise and lack of backbone until he entered the war. We really felt the ending appropriate. We also noted the strong female characters that Cather uses, with the male characters with smaller supporting roles. The description of place and tone of the story matches Cather's other works. Wonderful storytelling. ( )
  Bibliofemmes | Apr 23, 2017 |
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Willa Catherprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lee, HermioneIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Bidding the eagles of the West fly on . . .
Vachel Lindsay
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For my mother
VIRGINIA CATHER
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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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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:15 -0400)

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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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