Death Comes for the Archbishop

by Willa Cather

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Bloom, Edward A., and Lillian D. Bloom. Willa Cather’s Gift of Sympathy. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1962. Includes a discussion of the sources of Death Comes for the Archbishop.

Daiches, David. Willa Cather: A Critical Introduction. New York: Collier Books, 1951. A sophisticated survey, with a book-by-book treatment of Death Comes for the Archbishop.

Fryer, Judith. Felicitous Space: The Imaginative Structures of Edith Wharton and Willa Cather. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1986. An important inquiry into the meaning of actual and imagined spaces in the works of the two writers. Explores Cather’s unfurnished rooms and landscapes and gives particular attention to her use of color and light in Death Comes for the Archbishop.

Gerber, Philip. Willa Cather. Boston: Twayne, 1975. A brief but solid introduction to Cather’s life and literary career. Death Comes for the Archbishop is seen as a retreat into the past and as an implicit comparison to an inferior present, which accounts for its elegiac tone. Contains a select annotated bibliography of criticism.

Gilbert, Sandra M., and Susan Gubar. Sexchanges. Vol. 2 in No Man’s Land: The Place of the Woman Writer in the Twentieth Century. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1989.

Lee, Hermione. Willa Cather: A Life Saved Up. London: Virago, 1989. A feminist analysis of Cather as a writer of split identities, sexual conflicts, and stoical fatalism.

Lewis, Edith. Willa Cather Living: A Personal Record. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1953. Personal reminiscences by Cather’s friend and companion for more than forty years.

March, John. A Reader’s Companion to the Fiction of Willa Cather. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1993. An excellent source for any reader of Cather. Contains, alphabetically listed, often lengthy explanations of place names, proper names, and other objects of importance in Cather’s fiction.

Murphy, John J. “Willa Cather’s Archbishop: A Western and Classical Perspective.” Western American Literature 13 (Summer, 1978): 141-150. Argues that the novel reflects Cather’s cyclical view of history and her belief that American experience repeats the European. In this reading, Latour becomes a variation of the Western hero.

Nelson, Robert J. Willa Cather and France: In Search of the Lost Language. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988. Places aspects of Death Comes for the Archbishop in the tradition of French Catholicism.

O’Brien, Sharon. Willa Cather: The Emerging Voice. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987. A feminist reinterpretation of Cather’s life, relationships with family and female friends, and works.

Skaggs, Merrill Maguire. After the World Broke in Two: The Later Novels of Willa Cather. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1990. Provides an intellectual history that focuses on the works of Cather’s artistic maturity. Sees Death Comes for the Archbishop as Cather’s greatest achievement because of its ability to ask and provide answers to questions of faith, art, and the continuity of life.

Slote, Bernice. “Willa Cather.” In Sixteen Modern American Authors: A Survey of Research of Criticism, edited by Jackson R. Bryer. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1974. Succinctly summarizes major and minor criticism of Cather through 1973.

Wagenkneckt, Edward. Willa Cather. New York: Continuum, 1994. A deep and wide-ranging survey of Cather’s entire production, including an excellent critical analysis of Death Comes for the Archbishop.

Woodress, James. Willa Cather: A Literary Life. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1987. A superb general treatment of Cather’s life and literary production.

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Critical Evaluation