Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Working closely and tirelessly with a host of Cather’s personal friends and co-workers, Marion Marsh Brown and Ruth Crone capture the true spirit of American author Willa Cather in Willa Cather: The Woman and Her Works. They follow her life—both spiritually and geographically—from a small town in Virginia to Red Cloud, Nebraska, and back east to the city desks of Pittsburgh and New York City. Each chapter covers an important physical, spiritual, or ethical transition in her life. For the child Cather, the important change was her move from Virginia to Nebraska. As she grew, the milestones in her life changed from road markers to career moves. In addition, the latter chapters are punctuated by plot summaries of Cather’s major works, deftly woven in, to show the external influences that created her novels.

Brown and Crone also note the public reaction to Cather and her works, using quotations when appropriate; they gently try to explain others’ hostile attitude to this abrupt young woman. Although Cather the child charmed her neighbors with her ingenuous curiosity, Cather the woman put off many with her lack of concern for social mores. Willa Cather follows an unusual woman from her first introduction into society through her entrance into journalistic and literary circles to her eventual withdrawal from all but her closest friends.

Shortly after Cather was graduated from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, she took a position as an editor with The Home Monthly in Pittsburgh. She began to make friends, especially among the literate and artistic—unusual friends for an am-bitious, outspoken...

(The entire section is 676 words.)