A ruined beauty whose dignity has survived a lifetime of loss and disenchantment. A Czech immigrant who finds a paradoxical contentment on the harsh expanse of the Nebraska prairie. A solitary young painter spying raptly and guiltily on his exquisite neighbor. These are some of the lives that Willa Cather renders, with a fine balance of compassion and detachment, in these nineteen stories. Here are the landscapes that have awed readers of novels like O Pioneers! and Death Comes for the Archbishop, from frontier farms to the red rock canyons of the Southwest.
Here are the great themes that Cather staked out like tracts of land: the plight of people hungry for beauty in a country that has no room for it; the mysterious arc of human lives; the ways in which the American frontier transformed the strangers who came to it, turning them imperceptibly into Americans. In these fictions, Cather displays her vast moral vision, her unerring sense of place, and her ability to find the one detail or episode that makes a closed life open wide in a single exhilarating moment.
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