A Lost Lady

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Overview

First published in 1923, A Lost Lady is one of Willa Cather’s classic novels about life on the Great Plains. It harks back to Nebraska’s early history and contrasts those days with an unsentimental portrait of the materialistic world that supplanted the frontier. In her subtle portrait of Marian Forrester, whose life unfolds in the midst of this disquieting transition, Cather created one of her most memorable and finely drawn characters.

 

This Willa Cather Scholarly Edition of A Lost Lady is edited according to standards set by the Committee for Scholarly Editions of the Modern Language Association. The historical essay describes the origin, writing, and reception of the novel as well as motion pictures that were later based on it; and a selection of archival photographs illuminates the connection between the novel and the people and places from Cather’s formative years in Nebraska. Explanatory notes identify locations, literary references, persons, events, and specialized terminology. The textual essays describe the production and subsequent revisions of the text.

A portrait of a lady who reflects the conventions of her age even as she defies them and whose transformations embody the decline of the American frontier.

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Editorial Reviews

Choice
"This 1923 novel is among the best examples of Cather’s experiment with minimalism and one of her finest works overall. As such, it deserves an edition produced to the highest standards of textual scholarship. It has found one here."—Choice
Choice

"This 1923 novel is among the best examples of Cather’s experiment with minimalism and one of her finest works overall. As such, it deserves an edition produced to the highest standards of textual scholarship. It has found one here."—Choice

From the Publisher

"This classic has the striking economy of Hemingway, and is as poignant an elegy for the pioneer West as I have read."  —The Times

"A poised and perfectly shaped novel."  —Daily Mail

"Her finest novel...Unforgettable...This wonderful performance displays Cather's narrative technique at its sharpest, as well as her understanding of the eloquence of the slightest gesture, the simplest statement...A masterpiece."  —Irish Times

"She is undoubtedly one of the greatest American writers."  —The Observer

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803214279
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/1997
  • Series: Willa Cather Scholarly Edition Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 371
  • Product dimensions: 6.29 (w) x 9.26 (h) x 1.37 (d)

Meet the Author

Willa Cather

Susan J. Rosowski (1942-2004).

 

Kari A. Ronning is assistant editor of the Cather Scholarly Edition.

 

Charles W. Mignon and Frederick M. Link are professors emeritus of English at the University of Nebraska.

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

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