Liberal Arts Blog — Who Was Willa Cather? Is She Still Assigned In Schools? Should She Be?
Liberal Arts Blog — Tuesday is the Joy of Literature, Language, Religion, and Culture Day
Today’s Topic: Who Was Willa Cather (1873–1947)? Is She Still Assigned In Schools? Should She Be?
Last week comments by Vali (Tamm) and John (Baylor) praising Willa Cather intrigued me. I had only a foggy recollection of who she was. So I decided to refresh my memory and share the results. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
THE OLD AND THE YOUNG, OTHER PEOPLE, HISTORY
1. “The dead might as well try to speak to the living as the old to the young.”
2. “The heart of another is like a dark forest no matter how close it has been to one’s own.”
3. “The history of every country begins in the heart of a man or a woman.”
NB: Photo above: Cather in 1912.
LARKS AND HUMANS, HAPPINESS, LEARNING
1. “There are only two or three human stories and they go on repeating themselves as if they had never happened before, like the larks in this country, they have been singing the same five notes over thousands of years.”
2. “This is happiness — to be dissolved into something complete and great.”
3. “There are some things you can learn best in calm, and some in storm.”
NB: Photo is of Edith Lewis, Cather’s partner for 39 years.
HER LIFE, HER BOOKS, HER LEGACY
1. Life: born in Virginia she moved to Nebraska when she was nine then moved back east when she 23 — first to Pittsburgh for 10 years and then to New York City.
2. Work: best known for her portrait of the life of immigrants on the Great Plains — specifically the trilogy: O Pioneers (1913), The Song of the Lark (1915), and My Antonia (1918).
3, Above is the painting by Jules Breton (1823–1906) that inspired “The Song of the Lark” and many years later helped comedian Bill Murray “turn away from suicidal thoughts.” Its power spoke to me too and seemed to capture the spirit of the author and explain her appeal to a broad audience over many generations.
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Please share the coolest thing you learned this week related to words, language, literature, religion, culture. Or, even better, the coolest or most important thing you learned in your life related to Words, Language, Literature (eg. quotes, poetry, vocabulary) that you have not yet shared.
This is your chance to make someone else’s day. Or to cement in your own mind something that you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than otherwise about something dear to your heart. Continuity is key to depth of thought.