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One of Ours by Willa Cather
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One of Ours

by Willa Cather

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8082911,287 (3.8)203
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Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
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 |
I knew Claude was going to die when I was getting so close to the end and the war was still going on. ( )
  mahallett | Jan 18, 2017 |
Read across America - Nebraska.

Great War read.

#readwomen2014

See blog for review. ( )
  moonlight_reads | Dec 11, 2016 |
My favorite book by Cather - the story of a young midwest farm boy who enlists during WWI and finds himself leading troops in France. Beautiful descriptions of French countryside amidst the horror of war. ( )
1 vote Oodles | Feb 16, 2016 |
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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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Epigraph
Bidding the eagles of the West fly on . . .
Vachel Lindsay
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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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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)

(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)

Legacy Library: Willa Cather

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