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3.8 279
by Willa Cather

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LAST summer I happened to be crossing the plains of Iowa in a season
of intense heat, and it was my good fortune to have for a traveling
companion James Quayle Burden--Jim Burden, as we still call him in the
West. He and I are old friends--we grew up together in the same Nebraska
town--and we had much to say to each other. While



LAST summer I happened to be crossing the plains of Iowa in a season
of intense heat, and it was my good fortune to have for a traveling
companion James Quayle Burden--Jim Burden, as we still call him in the
West. He and I are old friends--we grew up together in the same Nebraska
town--and we had much to say to each other. While the train flashed
through never-ending miles of ripe wheat, by country towns and
bright-flowered pastures and oak groves wilting in the sun, we sat in
the observation car, where the woodwork was hot to the touch and red
dust lay deep over everything. The dust and heat, the burning wind,
reminded us of many things. We were talking about what it is like to
spend one's childhood in little towns like these, buried in wheat and
corn, under stimulating extremes of climate: burning summers when the
world lies green and billowy beneath a brilliant sky, when one is fairly
stifled in vegetation, in the color and smell of strong weeds and heavy
harvests; blustery winters with little snow, when the whole country is
stripped bare and gray as sheet-iron. We agreed that no one who had not
grown up in a little prairie town could know anything about it. It was a
kind of freemasonry, we said.

Although Jim Burden and I both live in New York, and are old friends, I
do not see much of him there. He is legal counsel for one of the great
Western railways, and is sometimes away from his New York office for
weeks together. That is one reason why we do not often meet. Another is
that I do not like his wife.

When Jim was still an obscure young lawyer, struggling to make his way
in New York, his career was suddenly advanced by a brilliant marriage.
Genevieve Whitney was the only daughter of a distinguished man. Her
marriage with young Burden was the subject of sharp comment at the time.
It was said she had been brutally jilted by her cousin, Rutland Whitney,
and that she married this unknown man from the West out of bravado. She
was a restless, headstrong girl, even then, who liked to astonish
her friends. Later, when I knew her, she was always doing something
unexpected. She gave one of her town houses for a Suffrage headquarters,
produced one of her own plays at the Princess Theater, was arrested
for picketing during a garment-makers' strike, etc. I am never able to
believe that she has much feeling for the causes to which she lends her
name and her fleeting interest. She is handsome, energetic, executive,
but to me she seems unimpressionable and temperamentally incapable of
enthusiasm. Her husband's quiet tastes irritate her, I think, and she
finds it worth while to play the patroness to a group of young poets and
painters of advanced ideas and mediocre ability. She has her own fortune
and lives her own life. For some reason, she wishes to remain Mrs. James

As for Jim, no disappointments have been severe enough to chill his
naturally romantic and ardent disposition. This disposition, though it
often made him seem very funny when he was a boy, has been one of the
strongest elements in his success. He loves with a personal passion the
great country through which his railway runs and branches. His faith
in it and his knowledge of it have played an important part in its
development. He is always able to raise capital for new enterprises in
Wyoming or Montana, and has helped young men out there to do remarkable
things in mines and timber and oil. If a young man with an idea can once
get Jim Burden's attention, can manage to accompany him when he goes off
into the wilds hunting for lost parks or exploring new canyons, then the
money which means action is usually forthcoming. Jim is still able to
lose himself in those big Western dreams. Though he is over forty now,
he meets new people and new enterprises with the impulsiveness by which
his boyhood friends remember him. He never seems to me to grow older.
His fresh color and sandy hair and quick-changing blue eyes are those
of a young man, and his sympathetic, solicitous interest in women is as
youthful as it is Western and American.

During that burning day when we were crossing Iowa, our talk kept
returning to a central figure, a Bohemian girl whom we had known
long ago and whom both of us admired. More than any other person we
remembered, this girl seemed to mean to us the country, the conditions,
the whole adventure of our childhood. To speak her name was to call
up pictures of people and places, to set a quiet drama going in one's

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Meet the Author

Born in Virginia, Willa Cather (1873-1948) moved with her family to Nebraska before she was ten, which later provided the setting for her best-known novels. The books O Pioneers! and My Antonia, especially, with their focus on immigrant life on the prairie, established Cather as a major American novelist.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
December 7, 1873
Date of Death:
April 27, 1947
Place of Birth:
Winchester, Virginia
Place of Death:
New York, New York
B.A., University of Nebraska, 1895

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My Antonia 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 279 reviews.
JSAlex000 More than 1 year ago
Since contemporary novels seldom draw me in and retain my interest past the first 60 pages, I sometimes pursue the bookstore for quality classic literature that I have yet to read. Thanks B&N for including Willa Cather's My Antonia in your Classic Series. Although relatively well-educated and well-read, I discovered this novel when browsing in-store. Cather's story-telling style and vivid descriptions transported me to a different time and place while her character development prompted me to continue reading. The quality of the story made it a page-turner and one of the two novels I have enjoyed reading most in the last 10 years.
Emilsay More than 1 year ago
This dynamic novel does what too many contemporary novels fail to do- it portrays heartbreakingly authentic characters without drowning the reader in nonessential details. This style of writing allows the story to become personal to the reader as he or she subconsciously fills the unexpressed components with his or her own unique thought process. As the principal character discovers his own personal "patria" {home, or rather, home of the heart} the reader cannot help but to reflect upon their own "patria". Perhaps this, out of many other contributing factors, was the most essential element in creating this American masterpiece. With a flawlessly imperfect setting and ruggedly realist situations, Miss Cather's writing simply jumps off the page and captures the very mind, heart, and soul of the reader.
book-a-holick More than 1 year ago
I will read this book over and over, every 5 years or so. The writing style (may I please call it lyrical?) is beautiful, separate and apart from the story-line. And the story-line complements the style. I was never bored. I never felt hurried reading this. I was sorry when I got to the end of the book. It is an experience, a journey, with a satisfactory ending, totally unexpected, but 'just right'. I learned a lot about this time period, but mostly, I fell in love with the characters and the story. And I keep musing about what might come next if the author had kept writing...
Guest More than 1 year ago
Willa Cather¿s My Antonia is a timeless masterpiece in literature. The coming of age story of Jim Burden is told in a way that allows the book to withstand the ages of time. The setting, plot, and theme of the story along with other elements give the story a depth, and realness, that few novels achieve. My Antonia tells the story of Jim Burden as he grows up on his grandparents¿ farm in Nebraska around the turn of the century. Embedded in the story line of this novel are many literary themes. The coming of age story with Jim shows how he grows from a boy to a teenager, and finally becomes an adult. The trials that Jims goes through and the lessons he learns in his life show how people have to work hard at life and try their best to become the person they want to be. Another theme of this book is to appreciate the people around you and what you are surrounded by. At times in the novel Jim and Antonia don¿t get along and they dislikes each other. But in the end, Jim realizes that despite their disagreements and differences Jim still needs and values her (as she does him) and wants to stay friends with Antonia. The themes of this novel surround the fact of how the people around individuals shape who they are and who they are going to become in their life. Another part of this book that makes it so amazing is the characters. The characters of this book are so believable and their problems make them easier for you to relate to despite the 100-year time difference in setting. In the beginning, the title character Antonia has just immigrated to Nebraska with her family from Bohemia. Throughout the book, all the hard work Antonia has to do to help support her family after her father¿s death, and the way she almost loses herself in the town life but the finds herself again in the end, gives her a realness and a sense of strength to all readers. Jim Burden, the protagonist of the book, gives the story depth as he struggles with inner conflicts. As Jim is growing up he wants to please his grandparents but he also wants to live life and get away from the small town he has grown up in and their image of him as a little boy. The supporting characters such as Mr. and Mrs. Shimerda (Antonia¿s parents), Jim¿s grandfather, and Lena Lingard, also add to and complete the story by creating conflict and helping the two main characters. The lessons characters learn and the way they grow as people also gives the story a realistic feel because the struggles of Jim and Antonia are problems that people could face in real life. The literary element of setting has given My Antonia a very fitting world. Although it is not obvious exactly when the story takes place it is obvious that the novel is set in Black Hawk, Nebraska, sometime around the beginning of the twentieth century. The fact that this book is set in the country as opposed to the city gives it a much more laid back feel and causes you to focus more on the people and their stories without the distracting hustle and bustle of the city. The lack of great importance or activity in the setting, gives the story over completely to plot and character development. Without having to focus on keeping track of an ever-changing setting it is possible for the reader to focus more on aspects of the story such as Antonia and her family, Jim and his family, and the relationship between the two. Two final literary elements in My Antonia are the point of view and plot. Told in 1st person by Jim Burden, the point of view of this story gives Jim a deepness as you get to look at all of his thought and feelings. This point of view also allows you to look at one of the major conflicts of the plot, Jim vs. his inner self. Jim is trying to find and become the kind of person he wants to be beyond high school and find his own identity. There are other plots of the story as well but this plot wouldn¿t be possible if the book were told from a different point of view. Other plots of the story include the ups and dow
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just graduated with a BA in English and throughout my time at college I have read My Antonia three times because it is by FAR my favorite book of all time. (I suppose it helps when your favorite professor is a Willa Cather expert). Originally it was a book I stumbled upon my senior year of high school and every time I read it, it offers me something new and I can't help but get sucked into the atmosphere Cather creates.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After reading this book, I was simply amazed at how timeless it is. There are far too many people who become concerned with "page turners". While a reader should not expect to find that in this book, they should expect to find a character who moves their soul. This book truly captures the essence of what it meant to be an early american settler, and what it still means to be a woman. Cather makes it very easy to relate to Antonia. The only complaint that I have (and I admit it is superficial) is the ending. I would have liked to see it work out differently, but I understand why it ended the way it did. This is one of the few "classics" that celebrates the heritage of America.
readingissexy23 More than 1 year ago
This book is absolutely stunning. Setting is the protagonist of this novel, Willa Cather did not disappoint!
Guest More than 1 year ago
A young Jim Burden is sent west in the early 1900's to live with his grandparents. On the train to his new house meets a young girl a couple of years older than he is. Although he doesn't know it, this is the beginning of a long-lasting friendship. After settling into his house on the plains of Nebraska, he ventures out to greet his new neighbor. Antonia Shimerda is her name and her family had immigrated from Bohemia. As Jim grows up he has many experiences with Antonia. When Jim is twelve, he and his family move into the nearby town, Black Hawk. Antonia also goes into town to find work. Because they belong to separate 'classes' they start to separate. As Jim settles down and continues his education, Antonia goes wild and goes to every town dance possible. After a failed marriage and an unwanted baby, Antonia moves back into the country to help her family's farm. Jim, meanwhile, transfers from the Lincoln University to Harvard. Forty years later Jim revisits Antonia to find her happily married and living a farm life full of content. Even though Antonia isn't as successful as Jim she seems to get more out of life. My Antonia is a wonderful piece of literature that shows the true meaning of happiness and the life and times of the early 1900's.
JAHNERS More than 1 year ago
Most of the time, I don't like books about immigrants; I have nothing against the immigrants themselves, but the books are usually written in a certain style, like the author is pretending that english is actually their second language. But I have always been a fan of the classics, and living in Nebraska (Willa Cather's Origin), I decided to give this a try. When I began the first page, I was pleasantly surprised that it not only wasn't that style at all, but that I actually couldn't put it down! The characters felt alive in the pages and relateable to anyone, no matter who was reading it. You get a glimpse of the original American Dream, too, which I love. This book is definately worth reading, give it a try.
JordanSkye More than 1 year ago
Upon first reading this book I thought it extremely simple and enjoyable. Although the whole concept wasn't profoundly enlightening it was most definitely an interesting book. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to escape the heavy complex reads often assigned in colleges. You won't be dissapointed.
Anonymous 13 days ago
She walks in wearing a tight camo green long sleeve crop top and black skinny jeans with white kiks and looks around the bar then goes and sits down in the back corner and sighs
Anonymous 14 days ago
She steps in
Anonymous 16 days ago
He threw darts at the dart bourd.
Anonymous 20 days ago
I am 17 jet black hair tan skin 8 inch c.o.c.k if u want to be my gf go to wolf camp res 6
Anonymous 21 days ago
Walks in. He's wearing green jeans, a Minecraft Creeper shirt, and a green jade dragon pendant.
Anonymous 28 days ago
The girl sauntered into the bar, her face looking rather dull in a badas<_>s kinda way. Blake slipped behind the bar and tossed on her tiny apron, also tucking a strand of her long, blonde hair behind her ear.
Anonymous 29 days ago
He walks in taking a look around. Brushing his light brown medium length hair out of his piercing green eyes. "Nice place" he says to no one in particular.
Anonymous 29 days ago
Sighs "I need a drink."
Anonymous 3 months ago
Talks to piper
Anonymous 3 months ago
Looked around the bar a gloom expression on his face he was drinking jack daniels(i love jack daniels)
Anonymous 3 months ago
She walks in wearing a black and gold Adidas shirt (Adidas letters are gold). She's also wearing black leggings and glld and white Adidas. She's wearing make-up that makes her look stunning. She also has cute nerd glasses, her hair is in 2 french braids. "Ugh I really need someone to talk to." She said sighing.
Anonymous 4 months ago
a beautiful girl walked in with a pink flowy dress and a pale ribbon in her long, wavy hair. She had the cutest face, that of an anime charachter. She sat down and ordered a scotch and smiled at Blair
Anonymous 5 months ago
*the pale white man that looked like he was somewhere in his twenties, walked in and nervously sat down at a booth*
Anonymous 5 months ago
Walks in
Anonymous 5 months ago
Walks in