Title: My Ántonia
Author: Willa Cather
It was a great joy to read My Ántonia for Willa Cather Reading Week. What a wonderful pleasure!
Given that I have only read this and O Pioneers!, I would not claim to be a Cather expert; nonetheless, for this post I will gladly boast what an exceptional author she is.
For example, if you admire human stories, beautiful or tragic, and if you appreciate intricately woven settings that appeal to your senses, then this story - and O Pioneers! - are perfect suggestions. You can get lost in her words. (Well, I did. Sometimes I forgot I was reading a book.)
By the way, the prairie, the setting for both novels, is real. It still exists. This summer, my family drove through Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri, and of course I took a few pictures. It is miles and miles and miles of immense sky, wide open spaces, waving grasses, and rolling hills, with an occasional tree. I added the photos to this post, and I suppose that is why I like this particular book cover. It reminds me of the scenes I saw.
Anyway, back to the human stories: so far I have found that Cather develops memorable characters, often with extremely formidable and outstanding personality traits. Throughout this story, I clung to particular characters and hoped for the story to turn a specific way; but like O Pioneers!, it was not what Cather had in mind. Well, at least there was not as much heartbreak. (I won't tell you what happened in O Pioneers! because you'll have to read it yourself to find out.)
In My Ántonia, there was some disappointment. However, as in real human stories, not everything concludes the way you expect or want it to. Life can be super messy, and often times there is disappointment and even tragedy. I suppose I could say that Cather writes closely to real life. Maybe that is why I really enjoyed these two stories because I tend to seek out reality.
|Kansas, or somewhere in the Mid-West|
Also, a theme that I found repeating itself in My Ántonia involved memories of people and places from our past and how important they are to us. Cather used the Latin phrase "Optima dies...prima fugit," which means, "in the lives of mortals, the best days are the first to flee," as the main character recalled the carefree days of his youth. He dreamed about his past and the people who touched his life. He even had to move away because it was a distraction to him. When he returned to where he grew up and to see his childhood friend, Ántonia, he hoped she did not change. I get the feeling he wished things could remain the same for always. Of course, that was not possible. He said, as he returned to visit Ántonia after twenty years,
I did not want to find her aged and broken; I really dreaded it. In the course of twenty crowded years one parts with many illusions. I did not wish to lose the early ones. Some memories are realities, and are better than anything that can ever happen to one again.
|Meadowlark singing his little heart out|