Guy's Reviews > My Antonia

My Antonia by Willa Cather
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's review
Dec 26, 11

bookshelves: classic-literature-modern-classics, romance, history, old-west
Read from November 28 to December 26, 2011

I've put off reading this for many years, mostly because anything set in Nebraska (or Wyoming, Montana, Utah, Colorado ... basically the entire country North of California and West of Illinois) is usually so depressing to me. When I can break out of that prejudice, I have managed to find some remarkable stories and this is one of them.

Cather's writing is delicious. She tells a story as if she is weaving cloth or molding it from clay; there is substance in her writing that goes beyond print, so you experience texture, taste and smell as well as the sound of the narrator and scenes he reveals. I described this novel as history and romance, though the story is not nearly as limited as either, and not a romance in the finite sense of boy meets girl. We know, from the prologue that Antonia is not Jim's wife, so Cather lets us enjoy her tale without making us hope everything turns out "right." This is a romance, because our first love is always where we keep our tenderness, and it doesn't matter if that love is the one we wind up sharing a mortgage and toothbrush with, or if they were simply the one that brought the colors into our world.

"My Antonia" uses method to deliver message, so we come to understand that it is in the experience of living (and of reading) that we are alive and the framework of time is only necessary in translating the experience for another. This story did not end for me when I turned the last page of the book, so in the sense that a great artist creates a space for one to live within a painting, Cather has made a place for her reader to engage their own imagination.

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