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My Antonia by Willa Cather

My Antonia (original 1918; edition 2011)

by Willa Cather

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10,717244394 (3.91)885
Title:My Antonia
Authors:Willa Cather
Info:Simon & Brown (2011), Paperback, 154 pages
Collections:To read

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My Ántonia by Willa Cather (1918)

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English (238)  German (2)  Italian (2)  Piratical (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (244)
Showing 1-5 of 238 (next | show all)
I managed to get through high school without reading Willa Cather. Someone recommended My Ántonia when I was looking for undramatic material suitable for reading before bedtime, and onto the wish list it went.

Undramatic is an interesting label to apply to this book, which witnesses a suicide, an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, several amputations and a murder-suicide. The tone is what makes the story drowsy and golden-hued — romantic doesn't even begin to cover it. It was indeed pleasant to read before falling asleep.

This novel is a good counterpoint to House of Mirth because the two novels have some shared structure — you can sense Ántonia's "downfall" approaching her as soon as she moves to town, and the narrator is occasionally exasperatingly useless (both of which remind me of House of Mirth). Cather doesn't write straight-up tragedies, however — her characters have a remarkable amount of self-determination. What could have been a fatal flaw (e.g. Lena's warmheartedness to married men) becomes a colorful personality detail. I love that the entire farming community gossips about Ole Benson following Lena around and years later Lena casually dismisses their gossip with a description of her generosity of spirit ('There was never any harm in Ole,' she said once. 'People needn't have troubled themselves. He just liked to come over and sit on the draw-side and forget about his bad luck.' [p. 226]). ( )
  bexaplex | May 11, 2019 |
The title of this book has never really appealed to me: it seemed so possessive. But the narrative inside is not—Antonia isn't Jim's, but this is the story of his memories of her and how they grew up together in Nebraska. It is clear that she has left a mark on his memories like no one else. I found this book very easy to read and it constantly kept me eager to pick it up again. ( )
  mari_reads | May 11, 2019 |
It is a daunting task to find anything fresh to say about a book that is justifiably regarded as a classic, so I will keep this one fairly short.

Willa Cather moved with her family from New England to rural Nebraska as a child, at a time when new farmland there was still being pioneered, so this tale of the state's development and specifically the experiences of the first generation immigrant farming families from Eastern Europe and Scandinavia that settled it, is inevitably coloured by her own experiences. She distances herself cleverly by making her narrator Jim Burden a man of her own age who for quite a large part of the book retains some distance from its heroine Ántonia, but who was also her childhood friend and neighbour.

The story is beautifully paced and contains nothing superfluous. Cather's Nebraska is vividly realised and her attitudes to her characters and particularly those who fall foul of conventional moral judgments seem very modern for a book first published in 1918. For the most part she avoids sentimentality too, except perhaps a little in the final chapter, which seems forgiveable. It was also interesting to read a story that is so positive about immigration at a time when there is so much paranoia about it in popular political culture. ( )
  bodachliath | Apr 3, 2019 |
Wow. My first Willa Cather and I can't believe It's taken me so long. This was astonishing. Beautifully written with every open sky and blade of wind-blown grass innocently transcribed. The story feels familiar as Jim Burden is a prototypical Nick Carraway, condemned to observe, unable to effect change. I'm not the first to make the comparison and it appears that Fitzgerald judged his own work to be an inferior homage in some ways. Antonia is a tragic heroine, overflowing with life. are we supposed to be disappointed in her lack of success relative to Lena and Tiny, or, as I did, are we supposed to feel thrilled that she is married to a man who loves her and with whom she is bringing up 10 fabulous children? It doesn't matter much, I guess, but I am as captivated by Antonia as Jim.

I look forward to reading more of Ms Cather. ( )
1 vote asxz | Mar 13, 2019 |
My Antonia by Willa Cather was well recommended to me a number of times. The last book of Cather’s Prairie Trilogy, I read the first 2 books in order to make sense of the last. So it’s taken me a number of years to finally read this book about growing up on the farms and in a small Nebraska town during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

The writing is simple and beautiful. The author’s love of the wide open spaces peopled by hardy Europeans shines in her every word. She has a wonderful ability to tell the stories of her characters in a comical yet compassionate way.

We are in for more enjoyable adventures once Jim and his grandparents leave the farm and move to the city of Black Hawk. We quickly pass through his education and learn third hand what becomes of Antonia and others. It winds up rather quickly with a bit of sentimentality. ( )
  Zumbanista | Mar 11, 2019 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Willa Catherprimary authorall editionscalculated
Benda, W. T.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Byatt, A.S.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Colacci, DavidNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Norris, KathleenForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tapper, GordonIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Optima dies . . . prima fugit
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)
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
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Wikipedia in English (3)

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.
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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. A novel set in Nebraska about pioneering Bohemian farmers & of the courageous heroine, Antonia. First published in 1918. In Willa Cather's own estimation, My Antonia, first published in 1918, was "the best thing I've ever done." An enduring paperback bestseller on Houghton Mifflin's literary list, this hauntingly eloquent classic now boasts a new foreword by Kathleen Norris, Cather's soulmate of the plains. Infused with a gracious passion for the land, My Antonia embraces its uncommon subject - the hardscrabble life of the pioneer woman on the prairie - with poetic certitude, rendering a deeply moving portrait of an entire community. Through Jim Burden's endearing, smitten voice, we revisit the remarkable vicissitudes of immigrant life in the Nebraska heartland with all its insistent bonds. Guiding the way are some of literature's most beguiling characters: the Russian brothers plagued by memories of a fateful sleigh ride, Antonia's desperately homesick father and self-indulgent mother, and the coy Lena Lingard. Holding the pastoral society's heart, of course, is the bewitching, free-spirited Antonia Shimerda.… (more)

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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Tantor Media

2 editions of this book were published by Tantor Media.

Editions: 1400100747, 1400108454

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