Of Ántonia, the passionate and majestic central character in Willa Cather’s greatest novel, the narrator, Jim Burden, says that she left “images in the mind that did not fade–that grew stronger with time.” The same is true of the book in which Cather enshrines her heroine. On one level, My Ántonia is a straight forward narrative, written in limpid prose of uncanny descriptive accuracy, about the struggles endured by a family of immigrant pioneers and the small community that surrounds them on the unsettled Nebraska plains. On another, it is a novel that represents a perfect marriage of form and feeling.
In its magnificent tableaux of human beings caught in the toils of an abundant and overpowering natural world, and in the quiet, understated sympathy it displays for life of every sort, My Ántonia is a novel that effortlessly encompasses history and wilderness and the destiny of the individual–even as it lovingly and unsentimentally portrays a woman whose robust spirit and enduring warmth make her emblematic of what Cather most admired in the American people.
WILLA CATHER was born in Virginia in 1873, and was about nine years old when her family moved to Red Cloud, Nebraska. After graduating from the University of Nebraska, she worked for a Lincoln, Nebraska, newspaper, then moved to Pittsburgh and… More about Willa Cather