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My Ántonia (Great Plains Trilogy #3)

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  86,181 ratings  ·  4,961 reviews
Through Jim Burden's endearing, smitten voice, we revisit the remarkable vicissitudes of immigrant life in the Nebraska heartland, with all its insistent bonds. Guiding the way are some of literature's most beguiling characters: the Russian brothers plagued by memories of a fateful sleigh ride, Antonia's desperately homesick father and self-indulgent mother, and the coy Le ...more
Paperback, 232 pages
Published February 20th 2000 by New Millennium Library (first published 1918)
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Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) It was in my highschool library in the 1970s so I guess so, since back in those days in the Midwest they were not above banning anything they thought…moreIt was in my highschool library in the 1970s so I guess so, since back in those days in the Midwest they were not above banning anything they thought was not "qwait naice". I remember reading the first half in middleschool and then getting bored and never finishing it.(less)
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Steve Sckenda
Mar 04, 2015 Steve Sckenda rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of Authentic People and Spartan Land
They came to the prairie because they wished to live deliberately. The flat and treeless land looked empty and unremarkable to those who could not see, but others envisioned a harvest of waving corn ready to burst forth from the sweat of their brow. Prairies teem with burrowing life and with blue dreams. The endless land absorbs those dreams, and the sheltering sky embraces the dreamers with its wide blue arms. Brave immigrants from Scandinavia and Central Europe who were searching for freedom a ...more
i read this book the same day i found out that sparkling ice had introduced two new flavors, pineapple coconut and lemonade.

what does this have to do with anything, you ask??

well, sparkling ice is sort of a religion with me, and this book was wonderful, so it was kind of a great day, is all. i don't have a lot of those.

why have i never read willa cather before? i'm not sure. i think i just always associated her with old ladies, and i figured i would read her on my deathbed or something. maybe it
I would have called 'My Ántonia' an immigrant novel. But then I realized that dubious distinction is reserved only for the creations of writers of colour - Jhumpa Lahiri, Zadie Smith, Xiaolu Guo, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Sunjeev Sahota, Yiyun Li, Lee Chang Rae and so on and so forth. Especially now when the word 'immigrant', hurled at us ad nauseam from the airwaves and the domains of heated social media discussions, invokes images of gaunt, exhausted but solemnly hopeful faces of Syrians knock ...more
Mar 10, 2011 Sparrow rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hemingway fans, good people
Recommended to Sparrow by: nobody, and why?!
Maybe what I love about Willa Cather is all the kinds of love and belonging she writes. Her unhappy marriages and her comfortable ones; her volatile love and her unconsummated longing; and her lone, happy people, are all so different, but so how I see the world. I think the way she writes them is wise. Unreliable narrators are delightful to read because, in the sense that the author has shown me their unreliability, she has also shown me their uniqueness and humanity. I think Jim Burden, the nar ...more
Jul 16, 2015 Rowena rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rowena by: Cheryl
Shelves: american-lit
"There seemed to be nothing to see; no fences, no creeks or trees, no hills or fields. If there was a road, I could not make it out in the faint starlight. There was nothing but land: not a country at all, but the material out of which countries are made."- Willa Cather, My Ántonia

For someone who grew up watching "Little House on the Prairie", this was an interesting and nostalgic look at my childhood fancies and romanticized images of frontier life. Making a new life, taming the land, and c
Jason Koivu
Here lie glorious character sketches. Be sure to pay your respects.

I dragged my feet. I came late to the party. I regret it.

This is one of those books I've known about for ages, but was ignorant and flat out mistaken about its subject matter. A friend in college wrote a poem based off of it and my impression from that experience was that My Antonia was about a man describing a woman for the length of an entire novel. That would be a gross oversimplification of the book. It's so much more than t
Apr 14, 2014 Dolors rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those wanting to get hold of an elusive past
Shelves: read-in-2014
“Some memories are realities, and are better than anything that can ever happen to one again.” (p.259)

More than a Wild West story about the adventurous frontier life in the Nebraska plains, I thought My Ántonia was a novel about red seas of prairie grass and hard blue skies and black ploughs outlined against crimson suns and adults chasing the casted shadows of their pasts. Prior to the comforting embrace of the Nebraskan landscape there was only the most profound homesickness. Homesickness for

… more than anything else I felt motion in the landscape; in the fresh, easy-blowing morning wind, and in the earth itself, as if the shaggy grass were a sort of loose hide, and underneath it herds of wild buffalo were galloping, galloping …

High Plains mixed-grass prairie during springtime. Near Harrison, Nebraska.
From Flickr, by

Willa Cather

Willa Cather – born 1873 near Winchester Virginia. Her family moved to Nebraska in 1883 when she was nine, joining h
Henry Avila
James Quayle Burden, loses both his parents, at the tender age of ten in Virginia, by the Blue Ridge Mountains, sent by relatives to his grandparents (Josiah and Emmaline Burden), by train, in the custody of a trusted employee, that worked for his late father , teenager Jake Marpole, reaching the farm, safely, in the still wild prairie state of Nebraska, newly settled, by Americans, the Indians have been scattered, and are no longer a threat , but the harsh frontier land remains untamed. Colorfu ...more
She makes me revel in the beauty of four seasons: burning summers when the world lies green and billowy beneath a brilliant sky...the color and smell of strong weeds and heavy harvests; blustery winters with little snow, when the whole country is stripped bare and gray as sheet-iron. I read her and I forsake all others, for she tells me that no one can give the sensation of place through narrative, and also deliver such soul-stirring and wistful storytelling quite like she can.

She gives me quiet

That's how her name is pronounced, and not like An'-tow-niya which is how I always thought it was. I found this clarification, at the very start of the book, remarkable(for me) because it changed the way I read about her, till the very last page. At every mention of her name, my mind tried to pronounce it the Bohemian way, thus, never letting me forget the eccentricity and congeniality of this unforgettable character.

I have somehow spent almost a month reading this little book and
Nidhi Singh
To speak her name was to call up pictures of peoples and places, to set a quiet drama going in one’s brain.

‘My Antonia’ is a story of home and homesickness. Of the memories of a lost home that persist in the mindscape as the warm gusts of wind and the singing of the larks. The home of that golden sunshine and yellow leaves, red shaggy grass and blue skies. The images which make me think of home as the quietest, friendliest corner of a crowded and uncaring street, of that kind touch in midst of
The Book Maven
When I first arrived in Indiana in August 2004, I didn't know what I was expecting. My ancestors had first arrived in that Midwestern state in 1820, when it was still comparatively wild and unsettled. They were the true pioneers, but nonetheless, as I got out of my little Corolla to stretch my legs, I felt like I was a trailblazer, too.

We had stopped at a little gas station and truck stop just beyond the Indiana state line. I took a moment to call the relatives, let them know I was two hours aw
Perhaps an example of the danger of reading something before being intellectually or critically able to handle it. I wasn't "forced" to read this in high school but it was on a list of books an English teacher asked us to choose from and report on.

The experience was so awful that I've never cracked another Cather novel since.

Added 12/29/08: Apparently I was not the only young man "traumatized" by an early experience with Cather. In a completely serendipitous convergence I came across this paragr
Nov 27, 2011 John rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: who care about American literature
Recommended to John by: read it to teach it
My latest encounter with a masterwork -- a novel I just completed in order to teach, and one that seduced me wonderfully and quite unexpectedly. Cather's Nebraska story goes over ground that's never much mattered to me, Midwestern farm country. Yet she made made the experience ache and thrill marvelously, via her poetic command of landscape and season, her exactitude when it comes to tools and foods and skin texture, and above all her penetrating sympathy for every figure, from the venal to the ...more
Glenn Sumi

My rating for My Ántonia? 5 stars shining brightly in the cloudless Nebraska sky, so vividly and lovingly evoked by Willa Cather in this elegiac novel about farmers and immigrant settlers making lives for themselves in the harsh, beautiful, bountiful prairies.

(Sorry about that graceless run-on incomplete sentence. Cather, with her clear, descriptive, unpretentious prose, would never commit such a sin.)

Some people and places are forever etched in our memories. Can you recall the landscapes of you
Ben Winch
I'm not sure I can tell you what's so great about My Antonia, except that you can't read it without loving its subject, or at least I couldn't. And that it's transparent - miraculously so - as without flash or ego as anything I've read in a long time. But ironically, this rare attribute may help conceal Cather's artistry. In her earlier O Pioneers!, from the first line her virtuosity was evident, but perhaps if I hadn't been so impressed by it there I wouldn't so instinctively have grasped it he ...more
Like many kids, the first “real” books I loved were Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series. Their great and continuing popularity makes perfect sense. Kids crave security and a sense of protection; Little House on the Prairie hammered on that theme repeatedly, while only giving the reader a frisson of the actual dangers and hardships of frontier life. There was never any explicit threat in any of the books, with the exception of the near fatal cold in The Long Winter (the one ...more
"The trouble with you, Jim, is that you're romantic."
(p 138)
And for me this may have been the crux of my problem with this novel in spite of Cather's usual wonderful writing. Having read the books of The Great Plains Trilogy in the order they were written, My Antonia has to compete for attention in my mind with O Pioneers! and The Song of the Lark, neither of which has a narrator who would be termed a romantic in their view of life.

Jim's memoir of life on the prairie begins when he is a child
Cather's beloved work is an nostalgic paean to her past, the prose even more assured than in her previous two novels. But whether it's because this one lacks the straightforwardness of O Pioneers! or the character arc in The Song of the Lark, its episodic structure failed to pull me in.

The most important element for me is the historical one that Cather has left us, the focus on the hard-working immigrant women who made a life for their families on the prairie despite extreme hardships, including
A couple of years ago, Motion City Soundtrack came out with an album called Even if it Kills Me. One of the tracks on that album was called My Antonia. The song isn’t their best, but it has qualities that make it special to me. The song describes the unique characteristics of a person that make her interesting. I’d be willing to say that the vast majority of “love” songs I’ve heard (from male artists, anyway) focus on how the object of affection looks. The gents seem to be able to go on and on a ...more
“Winter lies too long in country towns; hangs on until it is stale and shabby, old and sullen.”
― Willa Cather, My Ántonia-

My first perception about Willa Cather as a writer herself upon reading her Death Comes For the Archbishop was that she could have been as “ impartial a writer “ as Graham Greene ; I admire writers who have never been abandoned to their deep-seated beliefs beyond logic. Although her former book did not placate my taste , it proved me that she was an exceptional writer who wa
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
***3.5 Stars*** Vignettes of the Nebraska prairie, illustrated with lyrical prose. It is written as a memoir of the narrator, Jim Burden as he reflects on his early childhood when he was an orphan living with his grandparents on a farm near Black Hawk Nebraska (around the 1880s). Above all, he reminisces about a Bohemian immigrant girl named Antonia Shimerda.

Her novel has been dissected and analyzed by far more talented reviewers and critics than I’ll ever be so there is no need for me to be rep
Apr 06, 2012 Werner rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of serious, clean mainstream fiction; fans of historical fiction
Shelves: classics
Since about 1980, I've tended to read much more speculative and "genre" than descriptive, mainstream fiction; but that's partly a result of quirks of circumstance, and in my younger days that proportion was very much the reverse. This novel is one I read during my high school days (but on my own, not for a class) and remains an enduring favorite; it's a monument of the Realist tradition that exemplifies what "mainstream" or "general" (what I like to call "everyday" fiction, in no snide sense) ca ...more
I was expecting this book to be a hard classic to read. But I quite enjoyed it. I think it offers one a lot to consider and discuss....immigration, schooling, farm life, change of life, friendships, the list goes on. I enjoyed the painting that I felt Willa Cather painted as I was reading. It was peaceful to read and almost made me wish I had lived back in the day when life was somewhat simpler.
Words like "elegiac" make this novel sound profoundly cliched when the reality is that it's anything but. However, it's a novel about the past, about memory, loss and love and all those things you think you know perfectly well about until you approach them again in a fresh way in a novel as profoundly original and uniquely engaging as this one.

On the surface, My Antonia is a deceptively simple book. The narrator, Jim Burden, writes down (in deceptively simple, but completely evocative prose) his
i've been rating a lot of books with "it was ok" lately - that phrase seems to cover a wide range for me. for this book i considered giving it a third star ("liked it").

i enjoyed reading about country life and then life in town. while i didn't necessarily feel the same love for Antonia that the narrator felt she was certainly key to the story & an enjoyable character. i certainly enjoyed the interesting mix of characters on the sideline of the story - in fact i think they are what kept me re
Some beautiful writing about early farmers in Nebraska, but for me, this novel pales in comparison to "O Pioneers," which I loved. My main complaint about "My Antonia" is that the narrator, Jim, isn't very interesting. He is sharing his memories and stories about an immigrant girl, Antonia, who grew up on a neighboring farm. But Jim is a lifeless narrator; I think the novel would have been more compelling if it had been told from Antonia's point of view.

For instance, Antonia told two of the most
No one describes the American West better than Willa Cather. "The grass was the country," she says, "As the water is the sea. The red of the grass made all the great prairie the colour of winestains, or of certain seaweeds when they are first washed up. and And there was so much motion in it; the whole country seemed, somehow, to be running."

There's a lot of running in this beautiful book - running towards or away from that country as its characters try to escape its toil and monotony. That's th
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  • Giants in the Earth
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  • The Virginian: A Horseman of the Plains
  • The Awakening and Selected Stories
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  • The Bridge of San Luis Rey
  • One Lonely Night
Wilella Sibert Cather was born in Back Creek Valley, Virgina (Gore) in December 7, 1873. Her novels on frontier life brought her to national recognition. In 1923 she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her novel, One of Ours (1922), set during World War I. She grew up in Virginia and Nebraska. She then attended the University of Nebraska, initially planning to become a physician, but after writing ...more
More about Willa Cather...

Other Books in the Series

Great Plains Trilogy (3 books)
  • O Pioneers! (Great Plains Trilogy, #1)
  • The Song of the Lark

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“Whatever we had missed, we possessed together the precious, the incommunicable past.” 845 likes
“I was something that lay under the sun and felt it, like the pumpkins, and I did not want to be anything more. I was entirely happy. Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become a part of something entire, whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge. At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep.” 197 likes
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