Get personalized recommendations and earn points toward a free book!
Check Out
The Bestselling Books of All Time
See the List

Library of America Willa Cather Edition

Willa Cather
 by

Book
$

Library of America Willa Cather Edition : Titles in Order

Book 3
Willa Cather, one of the great American novelists of the 20th century, also wrote some of America’s best short fiction. From her haunting first story, “Peter,” the tale of a Bohemian immigrant who brought his violin to the raw western frontier, to her posthumously published “The Best Years,” the stories included here span the fifty years of Cather’s writing life. In these tales of pioneers and farmers, artists and youthful lovers, immigrants and their striving children, she creates both a new, never-surpassed portrait of the land and people of the American West and a lively and contemporary picture of life in eastern cities.

Many of her finest stories, among them “Coming, Aphrodite!”—a New York tale of passion and ambition—and the subtly constructed “Old Mrs. Harris,” are unfamiliar to most readers. Her earliest, uncollected stories are steeped in memories of prairie childhood.  Her earliest, uncollected stories are steeped in memories of prairie childhood. “On the Divide,” “The Enchanted Bluff,” “Eric Hermannson’s Soul,” and others contain many of the themes of her later work, evoking the loneliness and hardship as well as the beauty and challenge of pioneer life ”on the bright edges of the world.”

In the stories of Youth and the Bright Medusa (1920), which includes “The Sculptor’s Funeral,” “The Diamond Mine,” and the well-known “Paul’s Case,” artists and other sensitive spirits struggle to preserve their integrity in a society ruled by convention and routine. Obscure Destinies (1932) presents three moving tales set in the western landscapes Cather loved. Her characters are endowed with some of the meditative solidity found in the portraits of Rembrandt, like the old farmer in “Neighbour Rosicky” who has only “one tap root that goes down deep.” The Old Beauty and Others (1948), published shortly after Cather’s death, includes “The Best Years,” a Nebraska story that has a mournful charm unlike anything else she wrote.

Cather’s distinctive, lyrical prose can be found not only in her fiction but also in her “occasional” pieces—an appreciation of Sarah Orne Jewett, luminous reminiscences of Mrs. James Fields and her house in Boston, an account of meeting Flaubert’s niece in Aix-les-Bains. Her critical essays, such as “The Novel Démeublé” and “On the Art of Fiction,” which appear in Not Under Forty (1936), and her reviews of authors from Mark Twain to Frank Norris, as well as her appraisals of her own work, cast a discerning light on the creative role of the artist.

This volume also contains Cather’s first novella, Alexander’s Bridge (1912), My Mortal Enemy (1926), a powerful novella in which a strong-willed woman brings about her own ruin, and Cather’s only book of poetry, April Twilights and Other Poems (1933).

LIBRARY OF AMERICA is an independent nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1979 to preserve our nation’s literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, America’s best and most significant writing. The Library of America series includes more than 300 volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1,000 pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.
Book 2
This Library of America volume collects six novels by Willa Cather, who is among the most accomplished American writers of the twentieth century. Their formal perfection and expansiveness of feeling are an expression of Cather’s dedication both to art and to the open spaces of America.

A Lost Lady (1923) exemplifies her principle of conciseness. It concerns a woman of uncommon loveliness and grace who lends an aura of sophistication to a frontier town, and explores the hidden passions and desires that confine those who idealize her. The recurrent conflict in Cather’s work between frontier culture and an encroaching commercialism is nowhere more powerfully articulated.

The Professor’s House (1925) encapsulates a story within a story. In the framing narrative, Professor St. Peter, a prizewinning historian of the early Spanish explorers, finds himself disillusioned with family, career, even the house that reflects his success. Within this story is another, of St. Peter’s friend Tom Outland, whose brief but adventurous life still shadows those he loved.

Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927) tells the story of the first bishop of New Mexico in a series of tableaux modeled on the medieval lives of the saints. Cather affectionately portrays the refined French Bishop Latour and his more earthy assistant within the harsh and beautiful landscape of the Southwest and among the Mexicans, Indians, and settlers they were sent to serve.

Shadows on the Rock (1931), though its setting and subject are unusual for Cather, expresses her fascination with the “curious endurance of a kind of culture, narrow but definite.” It is a re-creation of seventeenth-century Québec as it appears to the apothecary Auclaire and his daughter Cécile: the town’s narrow streets, the supply ships on its great river, its merchants, profligates, explorers, missionaries, and towering personalities like Frontenac and Laval, all parts of a colony struggling to survive.

Lucy Gayheart (1935) returns to the themes of Cather’s earlier writings, in a more somber key. Talented, spontaneous, and eager to explore the possibilities of life, Lucy leaves her prairie home to pursue a career in music. After a happy interval, her life takes an increasingly disastrous turn.

Sapphira and the Slave Girl (1940) marks a triumphant conclusion to Cather’s career as a novelist. Set in Virginia five years before the Civil War, the story shows the effects of slaveholding on Sapphira Colbert, a woman of spirit and common sense who is frighteningly capricious in dealing with people she “owns,” and on her husband, who hates slavery even while he conforms to the social order that permits it. When through kindness he refuses to sell a slave, Sapphira’s jealous reaction precipitates a sequence of events that registers a conflict of cultural as well as personal values.

LIBRARY OF AMERICA is an independent nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1979 to preserve our nation’s literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, America’s best and most significant writing. The Library of America series includes more than 300 volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1,000 pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.
Book 1
“Let your fiction grow out of the land beneath your feet.” Willa Cather’s remark describes her own reasons for re-creating in her works the Nebraska frontier of her youth. Set on the vast northern Great Plains, where the earth has only recently come beneath the plow, the stories and novels in this Library of America volume partake of an impressive physical space and a uniquely American ethnic. Panoramas of lonely prairie and open sky reflect the heroic aspirations and stoicism of her characters and the rebelliousness of their spirit.

The Troll Garden (1905) was Cather’s first book of fiction. It contains seven stories, including the justly famous “Paul’s Case,” a study of a young man who escapes the world of the ordinary and briefly tastes the life of romance. Also included is “The Sculptor’s Funeral,” about a world-famous young artist who remains without honor in his native town.

O Pioneers! (1913) is the story of a young Swedish-American girl, Alexandra Bergson, who is left to manage the homestead farm when her father dies. Although she must contend with the shiftlessness of two brothers and the brutal murder of a third, her instinctive identification with the forces of nature helps bring the land to abundant fruition, and she finds her own happiness in a kindred spirit—an engraver, gold prospector, and fellow dreamer.

In her lyrical novel The Song of the Lark (1915), Cather’s love of music and theater and her faith in the spiritual influence of the Western landscape find expression in the ardent and talented Thea Kronborg. Moving from Colorado to Chicago to the primitive Southwest, Thea finds her destiny not in romance, but as a great Wagnerian soprano in the Metropolitan Opera. Her success, and that of all Cather’s heroines, derives from what the author calls “the naïve, generous country that gave on its joyous force.”

A masterpiece at once austere and exuberant, historical and mythical, My Ántonia (1918) portrays a family of Bohemian emigrants on the Nebraska frontier. Despite the suicide of her father and the desertion of the father of her child, Ántonia Shimerda retains an unselfish nature that allows her to undergo years of drudgery and still affirm a courageous passion for life and motherhood—a dauntlessness intrinsically rooted in the awesome wonder of the prairie.

One of Ours, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1922, portrays the blighting effects of twentieth-century progress on a free spirit from the American frontier. Claude Wheeler, its hero, is an imaginative, restless young man who leaves his claustrophobic small town to become a soldier in France during World War I. The Old World shows him culture, art, generosity, and appreciation, and also the horror, waste, and tragedy of war.

LIBRARY OF AMERICA is an independent nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1979 to preserve our nation’s literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, America’s best and most significant writing. The Library of America series includes more than 300 volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1,000 pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.

Find other titles in

Back to Top