Death Comes for the Archbishop

( 28 )

Overview

Willa Cather's best known novel; a narrative that recounts a life lived simply in the silence of the southwestern desert.

A narrative which recounts a life lived simply in the silence of the southwestern desert.

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Death Comes for the Archbishop

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Overview

Willa Cather's best known novel; a narrative that recounts a life lived simply in the silence of the southwestern desert.

A narrative which recounts a life lived simply in the silence of the southwestern desert.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A truly remarkable book . . . Soaked through and through with atmosphere . . . From the riches of her imagination and sympathy Miss Cather has distilled a very rare piece of literature. It stands out, from the very resistance it opposes to classification.”—NEW YORK TIMES“The most sensuous of writers, Willa Cather builds her imagined world as solidly as our five senses build the universe around us.”—Rebecca West“[Cather’s] descriptions of the Indian mesa towns on the rock are as beautiful, as unjudging, as lucid, as her descriptions of the Bishop’s cathedral. It is an art of ‘making,’ of clear depiction—of separate objects, whose whole effect works slowly and mysteriously in the reader, and cannot be summed up . . . Cather’s composed acceptance of mystery is a major, and rare, artistic achievement.”—from the Introduction by A. S. Byatt

From the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679728894
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/28/1990
  • Series: Vintage Classics Series
  • Edition description: REISSUE
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 111,110
  • Lexile: 1150L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.14 (w) x 7.99 (h) x 0.62 (d)

Meet the Author

Willa Cather

Volume editor John J. Murphy is a professor of English at Brigham Young University.
 
Textual editor Charles Mignon is a professor of English at the University of Nebraska.
 
Frederick M. Link is a professor emeritus of English at the University of Nebraska.
 
Kari A. Ronning is assistant editor for the Willa Cather Scholarly Edition.

Biography

Wilella Sibert Cather was born on December 7, 1873, in the small Virginia farming community of Winchester. When she was ten years old, her parents moved the family to the prairies of Nebraska, where her father opened a farm mortgage and insurance business. Home-schooled before enrolling in the local high school, Cather had a mind of her own, changing her given name to Willa and adopting a variation of her grandmother's maiden name, Seibert, as her middle name.

During Cather's studies at the University of Nebraska, she worked as a drama critic to support herself and published her first piece of short fiction, "Peter," in a Boston magazine. After graduation, her love of music and intellectual pursuits inspired her to move to Pittsburgh, where she edited the family magazine Home Monthly, wrote theater criticism for the Pittsburgh Daily Leader, and taught English and Latin in local high schools. Cather's big break came with the publication of her first short story collection, The Troll Garden (1905). The following year she moved to New York City to work for McClure's Magazine as a writer and eventually the magazine's managing editor.

Considered one of the great figures of early-twentieth-century American literature, Willa Cather derived much of her inspiration from the American Midwest, which she considered her home. Never married, she cherished her many friendships, some of which she had maintained since childhood. Her intimate coterie of women writers and artists motivated Cather to produce some of her best work. Sarah Orne Jewett, a successful author from Maine whom Cather had met during her McClure's years, inspired her to devote herself full-time to creating literature and to write about her childhood, which she did in several novels of the prairies. She was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1923 for her novel about World War I, called One of Ours.

She won many other awards, including a gold medal from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Prix Femina Americaine. On April 24, 1947, two years after publishing her last novel, Willa Cather died in New York City of a cerebral hemorrhage. Among Cather's other accomplishments were honorary doctorate degrees from Columbia, Princeton, and Yale Universities.

Author biography from the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of O, Pioneers!.

Good To Know

When Cather first arrived at the University of Nebraska, she dressed as William Cather, her opposite sex twin.

Cather was the first woman voted into the Nebraska Hall of Fame, in 1961.

She spent forty years of her life with her companion, Edith Lewis, in New York City.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Wilella Sibert Cather (full name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      December 7, 1873
    2. Place of Birth:
      Winchester, Virginia
    1. Date of Death:
      April 27, 1947
    2. Place of Death:
      New York, New York

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 28 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(7)

4 Star

(9)

3 Star

(4)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(5)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 28 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 29, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    The only reason I give the book three stars is that the prose is only a narrative. She never shows anything, only tells.... There is no action to speak of.

    Death Comes to The Archbishop by Willa Cather, 1927.

    The primary character is Bishop Jean Marie Latour, who travels with his friend and vicar Joseph Vaillant from Sandusky, Ohio to New Mexico to take charge of the newly established diocese of New Mexico, which has only just become a territory of the United States.

    At the time of his departure, Cincinnati is the end of the railway line west, so Latour must travel by riverboat to the Gulf of Mexico, and thence overland to New Mexico, a journey which takes an entire year. He spends the rest of his life establishing the Roman Catholic church in New Mexico, where he dies in old age.

    The novel is notable for its portrayal of two well-meaning and devout French priests who encounter a well-entrenched Spanish-Mexican clergy they are sent to supplant when the United States acquired New Mexico and the Vatican, in turn, remapped its dioceses.

    Several of these entrenched priests are depicted in classic manner as examples of greed, avarice and gluttony, while others live simple, abstemious lives among the Native Americans. Cather portrays the Hopi and Navajo sympathetically, and her characters express the near futility of overlaying their religion on a millennia-old native culture.

    Cather's vivid landscape descriptions are also memorable. A scene where a priest and his Native American guide take cover in an ancient cave during a blizzard is especially memorable for its superb portrayal of the combined forces of nature and culture.

    The only reason I give the book three stars is that the prose is only a narrative. She never shows anything, only tells.... There is no action to speak of. Ms. Cather sometimes covers years in one sentence, and other times writes paragraphs for one minute. The book reads easy and since I've traveled the areas described, I found it interesting.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    If you like "My Antonia" or "O Pioneers" you should read this one, too

    I have come to love (and expect) the beautiful nature descriptions in Willa Cather's books and "Death Comes for the Archbishop" is no exception. Cather captures both the wonder and desolation of nineteenth-century southwestern US/northwestern Mexico borderlands in a book that also explores the life choices of a man devoted to serving God. The only stumbling point I encountered was that I expected more plot than was given (the novel is entirely character-driven) but once I adjusted my expectations I had no futher issues with the novel.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2004

    What just happened?

    Wow, when I picked this book out to read for my English book report I had no idea it was going to be this boring! I had it for a few weeks and only go to about page 65.. I had trouble remembering things i had just read. It was so painfully boring.. I had to read it and I know i had to, so i forced myself to do it. I thought it was a mystery (thats what i was told) i thought someone was gonna kill the archbishop and the rest was figuring out who dun it.. NOt! wow i will never read this book again.. yes it was a 'good book' in the way she wrote it.. but yuck i hated it!

    4 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2004

    Its a wonderful book deserving to be read by all

    I picked up this book by accident, thankfully so; it has become one of my favorites. This book gives us a glimpse of the goodness that can be found in humanity, it expresses our desire to strive for something higher than ourselves.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2007

    A reviewer

    I loved the story, the imagery, and the characters. I found myself going back and rereading pages just to savor the descriptions. Cather is truly a poet. I'm a better human for having read this book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2014

    Our Book Club liked this a lot. It ranked sixth out of 40+ book

    Our Book Club liked this a lot. It ranked sixth out of 40+ books we've read in the past three years.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2013

    Nexus

    A purple tom with red tipped tail and ears pads in, he has scarled covered eyes that are dark with malice. He wears a red coallar with black spikes on it. (Not bloodclan)

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2013

    Attack ashclan

    Fire first res

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2004

    Decent

    It truly wasn't that bad of a book to read, it wasn't boring at all. It wasn't an adventurous book but it was a book that was well written and had some deep underlying themes.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2004

    a wonderful story

    This book helped me understand other peoples way of living. It describes dignity and , kindness of people, beauty of nature and landscapes, and the enourmos diccipline it takes to be a good missionar in a remote country like New Mexico. It was an adventure to read this book!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2004

    Deeper than plot

    Cather's outstanding use of imagery and setting propel the story to something that is beautiful. Most books today are action-packed plot-centered novels that are reminiscent of the books turned out in the fiction department of the Ministry of Truth in Orwell's 1984. This book is not meant to be centered around plot, but rather it is a series of snapshots in the life of a man stuck in an uncomfortable position as he rises above his circumstances. Moreover, Death Comes for the Archbishop, is a classic because of its timeless themes. I recommend this book to anyone who can think beyond a plot line.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2003

    couldn't Pick It Up a second time

    I got to page 66 and fell asleep, its a good book for insomniacs. the title Death comes for the Archbishop, i was hoping he would have ben murdered and the other priest had to solve the murder, no such luck. to say it was boring is an understatement!!! highly not recommended.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2003

    Death didn't come quick enough

    Easily the most boring book I have ever read. One word to describe it, painful. You can only describe peach trees for so long until you want to kill yourself from boredom. No real story line/plot, no character development, no excitement. The book is impossible to follow, one minute Latuor is Albuquerque, the next paragraph she is talking about Indians, then they priests are in another completely different city with a completely different story. Characters pop out of nowhere only to vanish just as quickly with no reference made ever again to them. This book was a complete waste of my time; I don't understand how anyone could find this book interesting/exiting or a masterpiece of literature.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2003

    Death came for me after I read this book

    This is by far the most boring book I've ever read. I admit it was a bit, A BIT, exciting, but it was difficult to get through the book. I couldn't help putting down the book just 5 minutes after picking it up. I don't recommend reading this book just to kill time because the book will just kill you.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2003

    An Assignment

    I had to read this book for an assignment, but even then, it was not bad. The psycological complexities and relationships between the characters and the nature around them is truly fascinating....if you can derive it from the text. Most do not look upon books like this in such a way, but if you do, it will truly heighten your enjoyment of the novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2003

    Exciting but not

    I enjoyed the book but it was very hard to get into to. I do not recommend to read for leisure purposes.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2002

    Teenage Perspective

    Great review. I loved the book, and could hardly put it down. It got slow in a few places but other than that its wonderful. Pretty good considering the teenage attention span is so small.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2000

    The Mild West

    Charming tale of a priest and his life in the American West in the 1800's. I'm sure that if I knew more about the life of Ms. Cather, the book would get 5 stars. Epic in a television mini-series way, but proof that books are indeed superior.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 28 Customer Reviews

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