Death Comes for the Archbishop
Cather teased me with the stuff that I wanted to know much more about -- the relocation and slaughter of the Navajos and th...more
If books were buildings, this would be a cathedral
I first encountered Willa Cather back in college with her most anthologized short story, Paul’s Case. It’s about a young man’s frustration for people’s failure to understand him. Aside from that, I don’t remember much of the story, but I do recall how beautiful and dainty the writing is.
So when I read this novel, I was not tremendously shocked with its delicate beauty. I already have good expectations so there’s...more
Death Comes For The Archbishop is a book I chose because it is a classic. Willa Catha's name was mentioned somewhere, and I gritted my te...more
How does one write a western about missionaries in New Mexico? I think it's foolish to assume that the conventions of the western narrative would be applied in such a story. But if you were to mix some of the familiar tropes of the western (The purifier comes to settle the land and the wild lawless society, a narrative much like Shane... or High Planes Drifter) with a biblical theme, in this case the problem presented at the Pentecost...more
This is my first Willa Cather and I have high praise for her story-telling ability. This novel was odd - I did not have a strong liking for the characters but I was compelled to keep reading. This compulsion did not come from any great suspensful plot, instead the plot (if you could even call it that) was nothing more than the string of completely unrelated events that happen to a person during...more
"Death Comes for the Archbishop" takes place in the mid-19th Century, but hundreds of years'-worth of prior events are brought to life in the famed scribe's limped prose.
The short novel recounts the life of Father Jean Marie LaTour, a fictional (?) French Jesuit, woven into the fabric of New Mexican lore as he rubs soldiers with scout and Indian killer Kit Carson, jousts with the Cathol...more
The novel addresses the lives of two French missionary priests in the American southwest. They travel, establish churches, get a little older, part, meet, part again, and talk through the nuances of their faith and expanding roles in the Catholic church among Mexicans and Native Americans with wildly different perspectives of faith but respect for good men. I like how Cather avoids what can...more
November's Book Club Read
"Where there is great love there are always miracles. One might almost say that an apparition is human vision corrected by divine love. I do not see you as you really are, Joseph; I see you through my affection for you. The Miracles of the Church seem to me to rest not so much upon faces or voices or healing power coming suddenly near to us from afar off, but upon our perceptions being made finer, so that for a mom...more
The book is more a compilation of short stories than...more
I often compare _Death Comes for the Archbishop_ to a very "Eastern" novel like _The Great Gatsby_, which occurs within a short span of time and among people whose major characteristic is their complete lack of adult values. It's amazingly rare to write concretely about a lifetime of patient striving towards some accretive goal -- where the greatest "incidents" might be moments of inner doubt, minor misunderstandings within long enduring relat...more
Being from there, I craved reading about the beautiful places as I remember them from pre-casino days. Cather captures the land and people unspoiled by the church and other greedy white guys.
It's written in shortish episodes, which are of cours...more
The good part of this book is the language. Willa Cather is a masterful writer. I lived in Arizona for seven years and she describes the landscape so accurately. I could feel the sights and smells. It was also refreshing to have a genuinely loving and humble priest character for once. The only other one I can think of is Father McCallahan from MASH.
The bad par...more
Death Comes for the Archbishop sprang from Willa Cather’s love for the land and cultures of the American Southwest. Published in 1927 to both praise and perplexity, it has since claimed for itself a major place in twentieth-century literature.
When Cather first visited the American Southwest in 1912, she found a new world to imagine and soon came to feel that "the story of the Catholic Church in [the Southwest] was the most interesting of all its stories." The narrative follows Bishop Jean Lato
December 8, 2012
What a simply delightful book. So easy to read and understand, yet so packed full of passion, flavor and intense character development. I had no idea what this book was about and while the subject of missionaries in the southwest could have been a snoozer, Cather turns it into pure magic. The descriptions of landscape make you feel not only like you are there, but leave a residual aching beauty in your mind. For instance:
On 12/6/12, I posted the following at my GR book group:
Nina wrote: "Speaking of reading older books; I am re-reading, "Death Comes to the Archbishop," for the third or fourth time. I have lost count but it's been a while now since I've once again delved into one of my all time favorite books. Joy, have you read it?"
Nina, I don't remember reading Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927) by Willa Cather, but I think I remember reading some of Cather's book...more
It doesn't require an interest in religion to appreciate;
It isn't necessary to want to explore the early Southwest through the author's eyes;
It is enough to simply read and let Cather's simple, beautiful prose wash over you and transport you---wherever it takes you, personally.
I really do believe this book has something in it that can appeal to any reader who seeks something in a book other than diversion. It is hard...more
This is not a novel of plot - which one finds out along the dusty way - it's more a chronicle of various events of two french catholic missionaries - which Willa Cather have based on two real life characters.
The story covers several decades beginning in 1851 when Father Latour reaches Santa Fe to become Vicar Apostolic of New Mexico. The task is daunting - trying to recover and rebuild their french version of the...more
The story deals with two French Catholic missionary priests sent to an unknown diocese spreading out around Santa Fe, and with the Mexicans and Native Americans among whom they work. But interestingly, the m...more
“It was both intense and soft, with a ruddiness as of much-multiplied candlelight, an aura of red in its flames. It bored into the ilex trees, illuminating their mahogany trunks and blurring their dark foliage; it warmed the bright green of the orange trees and the rose of the oleander bloom to gold; sent congested spiral patterns quivering ov...more
The episodes tell of their hardships and joys, of the people they meet, such as Kit Carson and Manue...more