Read My Antonia by Willa Cather Free Online
Book Title: My Antonia|
The author of the book: Willa Cather
Edition: Penguin Books
Date of issue: June 1st 1999
ISBN 13: 9780140283273
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 16.21 MB
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Reader ratings: 7.3
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“I’d like to have you for a sweetheart, or a wife, or my mother or my sister-anything that a woman can be to a man. The idea of you is a part of my mind. You influence my likes and dislikes, all my tastes, hundreds of times when I don’t realize it. You really are a part of me.”
--Willa Cather, “My Antonia”
Oh, Jim! She really did a number on you! I guess it couldn’t be helped, because after knowing Antonia Shimerda, I can’t help being enamored with her myself. It is not even easy to say things so illuminating about a human being but somehow, seeing Antonia from the eyes of Jim Burden, I totally understand where he’s coming from. Antonia exudes strength, spirit and determination, and all the while remains gentle, trusting, and kind. What Jim feels for her goes beyond romantic love, though. She is the embodiment of the things he loves most: home, his childhood, and his aspirations. The way I see it, she is what makes him a better man.
Nevertheless, “My Antonia” is not a love story, it hardly focuses on that aspect at all. With Antonia’s story, we get a glimpse on the lives and concerns of early settlers, which includes European immigrants, of the American West. It shows us what these people have to contend with, and struggle for, that goes to the very heart of their lives.
Now most of the pioneer stories I have come across depict rugged and determined male characters out to tame the wilderness with know-how and grit, while their female halves are relegated to supporting or (I dare say) insignificant roles. “My Antonia” breaks from that convention and instead, focused more on the struggles of the women. It’s an invaluable reminder that life was hard for everyone on the frontier, and that the women who made a go of it were every bit as tough-minded and independent as the men were. Antonia faces hardships of scratching out a living on the prairie, while having to do so as a woman, and while dealing with the challenges of being an immigrant as well.
As with the writing, Willa Cather masterfully tells a poignant and beautiful story that is striking in its simplicity. She makes you realize anew how much art is suggestion and not transcription, and her brevity is refreshing. I know of no novel that makes the remote folk of the Western prairies more real than “My Antonia” makes them, and I know of none that makes them seem better worth knowing. Beneath the layers of Mid-Western culture, she reveals human beings embattled against fate and circumstance -- and into her picture of their dull struggles, I was able to appreciate their heroism, and find their tribulations genuinely moving.
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Read information about the authorWilella Sibert Cather was born in Back Creek Valley (Gore), Virginia, in December 7, 1873. Her novels on frontier life brought her to national recognition. In 1923 she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her novel, One of Ours (1922), set during World War I. She grew up in Virginia and Nebraska. She then attended the University of Nebraska, initially planning to become a physician, but after writing an article for the Nebraska State Journal, she became a regular contributor to this journal. Because of this, she changed her major and graduated with a bachelor's degree in English. After graduation in 1894, she worked in Pittsburgh as writer for various publications and as a school teacher for approximately 13 years, thereafter moving to New York City for the remainder of her life. She traveled widely and often spent summers in New Brunswick, Canada. In later life, she experienced much negative criticism for her conservative politics and became reclusive, burning some of her letters and personal papers, including her last manuscript. She was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1943. In 1944, Cather received the gold medal for fiction from the National Institute of Arts and Letters, an award given once a decade for an author's total accomplishments. She died of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 73 in New York City.
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